University of Birmingham Students Visit Bunting-Redditch

By Paul Fears | 29 March 2023

Second year Chemical Engineering students from the University of Birmingham visited Bunting’s Redditch manufacturing facility to gain a better understanding of the UK’s strong engineering and manufacturing sector.

The BEng Chemical Engineering course at the University of Birmingham aims to develop the theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed for a successful career in chemical engineering.  Understanding material processing forms an important part of the course, and students visited Bunting’s Customer Experience Centre to see the latest magnetic separation technology.

World-leading Mineral Processing Technology

During the visit, the students had a lecture on physical separation presented by Professor Neil Rowson, Bunting’s Laboratory Manager, followed by equipment demonstrations.

Prof Neil Rowson demonstrating the Magnetic Disc Separator
Prof Neil Rowson demonstrating the Magnetic Disc Separator

In Bunting’s testing laboratory, Neil demonstrated the value of the handheld X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyser.  The XRF delivers exceptionally quick results which enables laboratory staff to understand the behaviour of materials when testing on magnetic separation.  Adjustments to operating parameters such as belt speed, splitter position and capacity are assessed using the XRF, leading to selection and recommendation of the optimum separator and performance criteria.

The training then moved to laboratory-scale high intensity magnetic separators used in the processing of minerals.  The students were shown how a Magnetic Disc Separator, with discs of varying magnetic strength, preferentially separates minerals of differing magnetic susceptibility.  A second high-intensity magnetic separator, the permanent Rare Earth Roll Separator, showed the ability to separate biotite mica from non-magnetic minerals originating in crushed granite.  The final mineral processing demonstrations showed the ability to remove very fine magnetics from a calcite slurry using a Wet High Intensity Magnetic Separator.

Technology Vital for Recycling

Neil highlighted the importance of developing technology to enable successful recycling with demonstrations showing the separation of magnetics in a battery recycling application.  In this project, Bunting is working with other organisations in developing processes to enable optimum recovery of valuable materials.

Phil Tree demonstrating the Eddy Current Separator
Phil Tree demonstrating the Eddy Current Separator

The students also witnessed the recovery of copper wire from e-waste (WEEE) using an eddy current separator and the separation of very weakly magnetic materials, such as fragmented stainless steel, on the SSSC and HISC Magnetic Separators.

The visit concluded with a tour of the manufacturing facility and a discussion on pursuing a career in engineering.

“Engineering is one of the most exciting and dynamic professions to pursue,” explained Neil Rowson.  “We wanted to show the University of Birmingham students world-leading separation technology that is critical to both the mineral processing and recycling industry.  Technology that is designed and built at the Redditch facility in the UK.”

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