Outotec Pori Research Center

The capabilities and competencies of our research center in Pori, Finland, cover the entire concept and product development chain, from mineralogical analysis of feed material to the scaled-up process and operating parameters that are the basis for the quality that Outotec is known for.

The research center offers the following capabilities:

  • Laboratory-scale testing. We study feed-material processing options to determine optimal grinding and concentrator conditions and methods. Processing options are then tested, and can include hydro or pyrometallurgical options, or a combination of both.
  • Simulation of potential flowsheet options. Versatile flowsheet simulation, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and thermodynamical modeling facilities makes possible to optimise chemistry, shape and scale up of the reactors, but also performace and sustainability of the whole process or plant.
  • Bench and pilot scale runs. These are used to determine the best approach, and the operating parameters for a scaled-up plant are then defined.

Benefits

  • Predict yield and quality of metallurgical products.
  • Understand chemical and mineralogical limitations, and possibilities for ore beneficiation.
  • Flowsheet development based on in-depth knowledge of mineral kinetics and chemistry in hydro and pyrometallurgical processes.
  • Modeling and simulation that provides a solid basis for basic engineering and supports optimization of process parameters and plant performance.
  • Cost-efficient adaption of smelting technology that takes into account raw material quality, energy, and reductant availability, as well as local conditions.

Rapid response to material-related questions relevant to complex process environments.

Focus areas

  • Product development
    Development of existing and new technologies
  • Process research
    Solutions for production problems
    Process improvements
    Research to support expansion investment planning
    Sales support
  • New innovations
    Innovating new products and essential improvements to existing technologies
    Explorative research
  • Research services
    Environmental measurements, chemical analyses, and other services
  • Research method development
    Development of existing and new experimental research methods and tools

History

The history of the Outotec Research Center (ORC) dates back to 1949, when metallurgical research began in Pori. In its early years, the ORC’s efforts were focused on developing and improving the company’s own production facilities and processes.

The opening of a new laboratory building in 1971 enabled further expansion of the research scope and the introduction of new techniques. Today, ORC employs about 200 people, operates state-of-the-art laboratories, and employs an extensive network of research subcontractors. Our hydrometallurgical and pyrometallurgical pilot plants are used to test new applications for the technologies and processes developed and sold by Outotec.

ORC works closely with universities and other research organizations, as well as with Outotec’s customers, through partnerships and joint development projects.

 

Investigative services to support mining and mineral processing

The Outotec Research Center (ORC) carries out studies in applied mineralogy and mineral processing for mine operators around the world. These studies cover base metal (iron, copper, nickel, zinc, lead), precious metal (gold and platinum group metals), and industrial metal ores.

The center has also conducted concentration tests with secondary raw materials such as slags, leaching residues, and tailings.

The ORC’s capabilities cover the entire chain – from detailed feed characterization and the development of a sustainable flowsheet for recovering valuable minerals, to the treatment of concentrates and tailings.

Benefits

  • Significant improvements in existing processing strategies through flotation control with electrochemical measurements in selective sulfide separation for multimetal sulfide ores and sulfidation control for oxidic ores.
  • Solving of mineralogical problems at the concentration stage by using mineralogical studies, including mineral quantification, to characterize the mode of occurrence of minerals in process products.

Flowsheet development scope

  • Planning and running laboratory and pilot test programs and flowsheet development
  • Optimization of grinding fineness, mineral liberation, and associated activities
  • Selection of reagents and dosages
  • Control of process chemistry with mineral electrodes
  • Chemical and mineral balancing of processes using Outotec© HSC Chemistry software
  • Grade-recovery estimates

Process optimization scope

  • Quantitative process mineralogical characterization of feed materials and main process stream products
  • Liberation analysis and mineralogical grade-recovery modeling based on particle data
  • Estimation of mineralogical factors influencing mineral processing
  • Chemical and mineralogical balancing of the circuit using Outotec© HSC Chemistry software

Outotec Process ef-X

Outotec Process ef-X (Process Efficiency Explorer) is an assessment procedure for solving unsatisfactory metallurgical results, problems with low selectivity or low recoveries, and too high grades of penalty elements in the concentrate. The assessment is used for:

  • Systematic and comprehensive evaluation of concentrator performance
  • Identification of sources of inefficiency and their causes
  • Identification of process bottlenecks
  • Developing solutions to improve process performance

Extensive materials technology knowledge based on decades of experience

Our materials knowledge is based on decades of experience in our own plants as well as laboratory studies, pilot testing, and first-hand experience of a wide range of process environments. Materials technology ensures the integrity of Outotec equipment in challenging environments, while still taking into account lifecycle costs. Our research activity focuses on corrosion, wear, and long-term degradation issues.

Our laboratory is equipped with world-class equipment for materials characterization and determination of properties. Research techniques include scanning electron microscopes for microstructure characterization and potentiostats for electrochemical corrosion property measurements. Our facilities can also be used for quality control and troubleshooting purposes.

We have focused strongly on gaining a deep understanding of corrosion phenomena and developing an extensive database of material corrosion properties to improve the reliability of material selection for new, innovative processes. This knowledge helps us respond more quickly to material-related questions and deal with more complex process environments.

Modeling and simulation

Modeling and simulation are critical tools for developing new processes and improving old ones. Process calculations are the basis for process design, dimensioning, and the sizing of reactors. The economy, energy efficiency, environmental impact, and sustainable effects of the process are defined at the modeling stage.

We separate process modeling development into two groups. The first focuses on process modelling platform and HSC Chemistry© software development, while the second focuses on application development. Both teams offer versatile process modeling services, platforms, and tailor-made process models and applications.

Advanced process control models are required when developing intelligent automation and process advisors for operators. Modeling and simulation gives valuable information in both greenfield and brownfield projects. In greenfield projects it provides a solid background and all the essential data needed for basic engineering. In brownfield projects it is used to diagnose the process, analyze bottlenecks, study scenarios, and optimize parameters to maximize plant performance.

Pyrometallurgy

Pyrometallurgy is the process of producing metals with the use of elevated temperatures. Due to the fast reaction rates involved, small production units with high productivity can be used. Because smelting processes require high temperatures, research and development activities include studies of refractory linings and constructions.

Smelting and modeling

Our entire flash smelting offering, which includes Outotec© Flash Smelting, Kennecott-Outotec© Flash Converting, the Outotec© Direct to Blister Process, and the Outotec© Direct Nickel Flash Smelting Process, have been developed in-house at the Outotec Research Center. The main research areas are:

  • Evaluation and optimization of copper and nickel raw materials
  • Smelting/flash smelting of copper and nickel, and flash converting of copper
  • Copper converting and refining
  • Roasting behavior of various sulfidic concentrates and metallurgical analysis of zinc processes
  • Cleaning of copper and nickel slags
  • Gas cleaning, flue dust treatment, processing of secondary materials
  • Thermodynamic process calculations, simulations, and modelling
  • Process control

Ferroalloys technology

The Outotec© Ferrochrome Process is developed continuously in the field and at the Outotec Research Center on both a laboratory and pilot-plant scale. The production of sintered pellets has moved from sintering in shaft kilns to the Outotec© Steel Belt Sintering (SBS) process, which is more energy-efficient and guarantees stable quality at high capacities. Off-gases and wastewater handling complies with the strictest standards.

The simulation reactor for the SBS process allows smelting technology to be adapted for customers in a cost-efficient way, taking into account the quality of the raw material, the availability of energy and reductants, as well as local conditions.

We also offer research capabilities for manganese alloy production, and the processing of ilmenite and ferronickel.