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A new production route to high-purity magnetite

By Gerald Ondrey |

Last month, Pittsburgh Iron Oxides, LLC (Pirox; New Brighton, Pa.; www.piroxllc.com) was granted U.S. patent No. 7,744,848 for its process of producing high-purity magnetite (Fe3O4). The company produces synthetic magnetite, tradenamed SuperMagnetite, which has greater than 99% purity and exhibits a unique combination of magnetic properties (such as remnance, saturation and, coercivity) that are derived from its purity, particle size (2–3 µm) and shape. The product is used for making pure iron phosphate and in applications such as constructing electrodes, reducing SO2 and Hg emissions and filler for zinc-rich coatings. In the Pirox process (flowsheet) commercial hematite (Fe2O3) is continuously fed into an indirectly fired rotary kiln. A countercurrent flow of natural gas reduces Fe2O3 into Fe3O4, and the gaseous byproducts (H2, CO, CO2 and H2O) are utilized as fuel. Tight control of the temperature profile prevents the overreaction of Fe2O3 into wuestite (FeO) or ferrite (α-Fe), explains Dale L. Nickels, Pirox’s vice president and plant manager. Product magnetite is then fed to a cooling screw under an inert atmosphere, where it is cooled to below 50°C, then bagged. Production costs for Pirox’s process…
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