Flash smelting
Flash smelting is a smelting
Smelting is a form of extractive metallurgy; its main use is to produce a metal from its ore. This includes iron extraction from iron ore, and copper extraction and other base metals from their ores...

 process for sulfur
Sulfur or sulphur is the chemical element with atomic number 16. In the periodic table it is represented by the symbol S. It is an abundant, multivalent non-metal. Under normal conditions, sulfur atoms form cyclic octatomic molecules with chemical formula S8. Elemental sulfur is a bright yellow...

-containing ores including chalcopyrite
Chalcopyrite is a copper iron sulfide mineral that crystallizes in the tetragonal system. It has the chemical composition CuFeS2. It has a brassy to golden yellow color and a hardness of 3.5 to 4 on the Mohs scale. Its streak is diagnostic as green tinged black.On exposure to air, chalcopyrite...

. The process was developed by Outokumpu
Outokumpu is a group of companies headquartered in Espoo, Finland, aimed at stainless steel. The company has approx. 8 000 employees in about 30 different countries worldwide...

 in Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 and first applied at the Harjavalta
Harjavalta is a town and municipality of Finland.It is located in the province of Western Finland and is part of the Satakunta region. The town has a population of and covers an area of of which is water. The population density is ....

 plant in 1949 for smelting copper ore. It has also been adapted for nickel
Nickel is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Ni and atomic number 28. It is a silvery-white lustrous metal with a slight golden tinge. Nickel belongs to the transition metals and is hard and ductile...

 and lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...


The process uses the autogenic principle by using the energy contained in the sulfur and iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

 for melting the ore. In the process dried and powdered ore is discharged from a nozzle into a fluidized bed reactor
Fluidized bed reactor
A fluidized bed reactor is a type of reactor device that can be used to carry out a variety of multiphase chemical reactions. In this type of reactor, a fluid is passed through a granular solid material at high enough velocities to suspend the solid and cause it to behave as though it were a fluid...

 fed with oxygen. The reduced metal melts, and drops to the bottom of a settling chamber. The flotation produces a large effective surface area of fine-grained concentrate particles. The process makes smelting more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Sulfur is released mainly in its solid form, thus reducing atmospheric pollution. The process is today used for 50% of the world’s primary copper production. The other 50% is mainly produced from oxide ores, where the process cannot be applied.

Outotec Oyj is a Finnish company, headquartered in Espoo, aimed at providing technologies and services for the metal and mineral processing industries...

, formerly the technology division on Outokumpu now holds Outokumpu's patents to the technology and licenses it worldwide.

External links

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