Copper Smelter project

Multiphysics computer simulations project of the industrial copper smelter and it’s engineering optimization for liquid phase bubbling of slags and fume exhaust system. The results were integrated in plant modernisation and dramatically reduced the smelter down-time.



Project duration:

5 months

Multiphysical computer simulations project of the industrial copper furnace (Vanyukov type) and it’s engineering optimization for liquid phase bubbling of slags and fume exhaust system. The results were the foundation for further plant modernisation. Our research and calculations allowed to reduce dramatically the furnace down-time and maintanance.


A large copper smelter plant from Asia was undergoing laborious 30-day maintenance, lead by a prominent metallurgy consultancy company NORD Engineering. To take advantage of the furnace down time replacing in-wall bricks, it was planned to make major smelter upgrades, optimize the process and increase overall plant efficiency. The plant operated advanced ‘Vanyukov’ type furnace, which had enough room for optimization.

EnCata engaged the project together with metallurgy consultancy company, which lead the reconstruction process. The optimisation strategy relied on in-depth multiphysics process simulations delivered by EnCata.

Due to great dimension variability of the essential features and the furnace (21 meters long and 9 meters height smelter) and tuyeres (~0.04 m diameter) blowing gas mixture at transonic speeds, the CDF / FEA non-stationary simulations and mesh building proved to be an extremely resource-demanding task. Thus, for most of the simulation runs we employed a research supercomputer.

Here are some (not all) samples of the simulation sub-projects and tasks addressed by EnCata:

  • Three-phase (slag – matte – gas) interaction physics, fluid dynamics with heat transfer simulations.
  • Smelter bath depth and dimensions optimisation.
    Simulation of heat transfer and design of the enclosing structures of the furnace and heat exchanger.
  • Fume design and simulations to resolve a potential issue of “stalactite” uptake building-up, involved aerodynamic simulations of both the furnace and the heat exchanger.
  • Tuyere location and design optimisation for the introduction of the transonic gas mixture in the liquid phase with following turbulent mixing.
  • Gas mixture and dust distribution within smelter.
  • Furnace temperature 3D-profile and optimisation.

Overall, a parametric validated simulation model was constructed, which describes the thermal, hydro, and aerodynamic processes that occur during the processing of copper concentrates in the Vanyukov furnace. The results of EnCata’s tremendous research work were passed further to equipment manufacturers, building machinery for smelter modernisation. The plant is successfully implemented our research results which helped – as part of modernisation efforts – to significantly increase process efficiency.

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