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flotation cells

flotation cells

More ores are treated using froth flotation cells than by any other single machines or process. Non-metallics as well as metallics now being commercially recovered include gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, iron, manganese, nickel, cobalt, molybdenum, graphite, phosphate, fluorspar, barite, feldspar and coal. Recent flotation research indicates that any two substances physically different, but associated, can be separated by flotation under proper conditions and with the correct machine and reagents. The DRflotation machine competes with Wemco and Outotec (post-outokumpu) flotation cells but are all similar is design. How do flotation cells and machinework for themineral processing industry will be better understood after you read on.

While many types of agitators and aerators will make a flotation froth and cause some separation, it is necessary to have flotation cells with the correct fundamental principles to attain high recoveries and produce a high grade concentrate. The Sub-A (Fahrenwald) Flotation Machines have continuously demonstrated their superiority through successful performance. The reliability and adaptations to all types of flotation problems account for the thousands of Sub-A Cells in plants treating many different materials in all parts of the world.

The design of Denver Sub-A flotation cells incorporates all of the basic principles and requirements of the art, in addition to those of the ideal flotation cell. Its design and construction are proved by universal acceptance and its supremacy is acknowledged by world-wide recognition and use.

1) Mixing and Aeration Zone:The pulp flows into the cell by gravity through the feed pipe, dropping directly on top of the rotating impeller below the stationary hood. As the pulp cascades over the impeller blades it is thrown outward and upward by the centrifugal force of the impeller. The space between the rotating blades of the impeller and the stationary hood permits part of the pulp to cascade over the impeller blades. This creates a positive suction through the ejector principle, drawing large and controlled quantities of air down the standpipe into the heart of the cell. This action thoroughly mixes the pulp and air, producing a live pulp thoroughly aerated with very small air bubbles. These exceedingly small, intimately diffused air bubbles support the largest number of mineral particles.

This thorough mixing of air, pulp and reagents accounts for the high metallurgical efficiency of the Sub-A (Fahrenwald) Flotation Machine, and its correct design, with precision manufacture, brings low horsepower and high capacity. Blowers are not needed, for sufficient air is introduced and controlled by the rotating impeller of the Denver Sub-A. In locating impeller below the stationary hood at the bottom of the cell, agitating and mixing is confined to this zone.

2) Separation Zone:In the central or separation zone the action is quite and cross currents are eliminated, thus preventing the dropping or knocking of the mineral load from the supporting air bubble, which is very important. In this zone, the mineral-laden air bubbles separate from the worthless gangue, and the middling product finds its way back into the agitation zone through the recirculation holes in the top of the stationary hood.

3) Concentrate Zone:In the concentrate or top zone, the material being enriched is partially separated by a baffle from the spitz or concentrate discharge side of the machine. The cell action at this point is very quiet and the mineral-laden concentrate moves forward and is quickly removed by the paddle shaft (note direct path of mineral). The final result is an unusually high grade concentrate, distinctive of the Sub-A Cell.

A flotation machine must not only float out the mineral value in a mixture of ground ore and water, but also must keep the pulp in circulation continuously from the feed end to the discharge end for the removal of the froth, and must give the maximum treatment positively to each particle.

It is an established fact that the mechanical method of circulating material is the most positive and economical, particularly where the impeller is below the pulp. A flotation machine must not only be able to circulate coarse material (encountered in every mill circuit), but also must recirculate and retreat the difficult middling products.

In the Denver Sub-A due to the distinctive gravity flow method of circulation, the rotating impeller thoroughly agitates and aerates the pulp and at the same time circulates this pulp upward in a straight line, removing the mineral froth and sending the remaining portion to the next cell in series. No short circuiting through the machine can thus occur, and this is most important, for the more treatments a particle gets, the greater the chances of its recovery. The gravity flow principle of circulation of Denver Sub-A Flotation Cell is clearly shown in the illustration below.

There are three distinctive advantages of theSub-A Fahrenwald Flotation Machines are found in no other machines. All of these advantages are needed to obtain successful flotation results, and these are:

Coarse Material Handled:Positive circulation from cell to cell is assured by the distinctive gravity flow principle of the Denver Sub-A. No short circuiting can occur. Even though the ore is ground fine to free the minerals, coarse materials occasionally gets into the circuit, and if the flotation machine does not have a positive gravity flow, choke-ups will occur.

In instances where successful metallurgy demands the handling of a dense pulp containing an unusually large amount of coarse material, a sand relief opening aids in the operation by removing from the lower part of the cell the coarser functions, directing these into the feed pipe and through the impeller of the flowing cell. The finer fraction pass over the weir overflow and thus receive a greater treatment time. In this manner short-circuiting is eliminated as the material which is bled through the sand relief opening again receives the positive action of the impeller and is subjected to the intense aeration and optimum flotation condition of each successive cell, floating out both fine and coarse mineral.

No Choke-Ups or Lost Time:A Sub-A flotation cell will not choke-up, even when material as coarse as is circulated, due to the feed and pulp always being on top of the impeller. After the shutdown it is not necessary to drain the machine. The stationary hood and the air standpipe during a shutdown protects the impeller from sanding-up and this keeps the feed and air pipes always open. Denver Sub-A flotation operators value its 24-hour per day service and its freedom from shutdowns.

This gravity flow principle of circulation has made possible the widespread phenomenal success of a flotation cell between the ball mill and classifier. The recovery of the mineral as coarse and as soon as possible in a high grade concentrate is now highly proclaimed and considered essential by all flotation operators.

Middlings Returned Without Pumps:Middling products can be returned by gravity from any cell to any other cell. This flexibility is possible without the aid of pumps or elevators. The pulp flows through a return feed pipe into any cell and falls directly on top of the impeller, assuring positive treatment and aeration of the middling product without impairing the action of the cell. The initial feed can also enter into the front or back of any cell through the return feed pipe.

Results : It is a positive fact that the application of these three exclusive Denver Sub-A advantages has increased profits from milling plants for many years by increasing recoveries, reducing reagent costs, making a higher grade concentrate, lowering tailings, increasing filter capacities, lowering moisture of filtered concentrate and giving the smelter a better product to handle.

Changes in mineralized ore bodies and in types of minerals quickly demonstrate the need of these distinctive and flexible Denver Sub-A advantages. They enable the treatment of either a fine or a coarse feed. The flowsheet can be changed so that any cell can be used as a rougher, cleaner, or recleaner cell, making a simplified flowsheet with the best extraction of mineral values.

The world-wide use of the Denver Sub-A (Fahrenwald) Flotation Machine and the constant repeat orders are the best testimonial of Denver Sub-A acceptance. There are now over 20,000 Denver Sub-A Cells in operation throughout the world.

There is no unit so rugged, nor so well built to meet the demands of the process, as the Denver Sub-A (Fahrenwald) Flotation Machine. The ruggedness of each cell is necessary to give long life and to meet the requirements of the process. Numerous competitive tests all over the world have conclusively proved the real worth of these cells to many mining operators who demand maximum result at the lower cost.

The location of the feed pipe and the stationary hood over the rotating impeller account for the simplicity of the Denver Sub-A cell construction. These parts eliminates swirling around the shaft and top of the impeller, reduce power load, and improve metallurgical results.

TheSub-A Operates in three zones: in bottom zone, impeller thoroughly mixes and aerates the pulp, the central zone separates the mineral laden particles from the worthless gangue, and in top zone the mineral laden concentrate high in grade, is quickly removed by the paddle of a Denver Sub-A Cell.

A Positive Cell Circulation is always present in theSub-A (Fahrenwald) Flotation Machine, the gravity flour method of circulating pulp is distinctive. There is no short circulating through the machine. Every Cell must give maximum treatment, as pulp falls on top of impeller and is aerated in each cell repeatedly. Note gravity flow from cell to cell.

Choke-Ups Are Eliminated in theSub-A Cell, even when material as coarse as is handled, due to the gravity flow principle of circulation. After shutdown it is not necessary to drain the machine, as the stationary hood protects impeller from sanding up. See illustration at left showing cell when shut down.

No Bowlers, noair under pressure is required as sufficient air is drawn down the standpipe. The expense and complication of blowers, air pipes and valves are thus eliminated. The standpipe is a vertical air to the heart of the Cell, the impeller. Blower air can be added if desired.

The Sub-A Flexibility allows it tobe used as a rougher, cleaner or recleaner. Rougher or middling product can be returned to the front or back of any cell by gravity without the use of pumps or elevators. Cells can be easily added when required. This flexibility is most important in operating flotation MILLS.

Pulp Level Is Controlled in each Sub-A Flotation Cell as it has an individual machine with its own pulp level control. Correct flotation requires this positive pulp level control to give best results in these Cells weir blocks are used, but handwheel controls can be furnished at a slight increase in cost. Note the weir control in each cell.

High Grade Concentrate caused by thequick removal of the mineral forth in the form of a concentrate increases the recovery. By having an adjustment paddle for each Sub-A Cell, quick removal of concentrate is assured, Note unit bearing housing for the impeller Shaft and Speed reducer drive which operates the paddle for each cell

Has Fewer Wearing Parts because Sub-A Cells are built for long, hard service, and parts subject to wear are easily replaced at low cost. Molded rubber wearing plates and impellers are light in weight give extra long life, and lower horsepower. These parts are made under exact Specifications and patented by Denver Equipment Co.

TheRugged Construction of theSub-A tank is made of heavy steel, and joints are welded both inside and out. The shaft assemblies are bolted to a heavy steel beam which is securely connected to the tank. Partition plates can be changed in the field for right or left hand machine. Right hand machine is standard.

The Minerals Separation or M.S. Sub-aeration cells, a section of which is shown in Fig. 32, consists essentially of a series of square cells with an impeller rotating on a vertical shaft in the bottom of each. In some machines the impeller is cruciform with the blades inclined at 45, the top being covered with a flat circular plate which is an integral part of the casting, but frequently an enclosed pump impeller is used with curved blades set at an angle of 45 and with a central intake on the underside ; both patterns are rotated so as to throw the pulp upwards. Two baffles are placed diagonally in each cell above the impeller to break up the swirl of the pulp and to confine the agitation to the lower zone. Sometimes the baffles are covered with a grid consisting of two or three layers each composed of narrow wood or iron strips spaced about an inch apart. The sides and bottom of the cells in the lower or agitation zone are protected from wear by liners, which are usually made of hard wood, but which can, if desired, consist of plates of cast-iron or hard rubber. The section directly under the impeller is covered with a circular cast-iron plate with a hole in the middle for the admission of pulp and air. The hole communicates with a horizontal transfer passage under the bottom liner, through which the pulp reaches the cell. Air is introduced into each cell through a pipe passing through the bottom and delivering its supply directly under the impeller. A low-pressure blower is provided with all machines except the smallest, of which the impeller speed is fast enough to draw in sufficient air by suction for normal requirements.

The pulp is fed to the first cell through a feed opening communicating with the transfer passage, along which it passes, until, at the far end, it is drawn up through the hole in the bottom liner by the suction of the impeller and is thrown outwards by its rotation into the lower zone. The square shape of the cell in conjunction with the baffles converts the swirl into a movement of intense agitation, which breaks up the air entering at the same time into a cloud of small bubbles, disseminating them through the pulp. The amount of aeration can be accurately regulated to suit the requirements of each cell by adjustment of the valve on its air pipe.

Contact between the bubbles and the mineral particles probably takes place chiefly in the lower zone. The pumping action of the impeller forces the aerated pulp continuously past the baffles into the upper and quieter part of the cell. Here the bubbles, loaded with mineral, rise more or less undisturbed, dropping out gangue particles mechanically entangled between them and catching on the way up a certain amount of mineral that has previously escaped contact. The recovery of the mineral in this way can be increased at the expense of the elimination of the gangue by increasing the amount of aeration. The froth collects at the top of the cell and is scraped by a revolving paddle over the lipat the side into the concentrate launder. The pulp, containing the gangue and any mineral particles not yet attached to bubbles, circulates to some extent through the zone of agitation, but eventually passes out through a slot situated at the back of the cell above the baffles and flows thence over the discharge weir. The height of the latter is regulated by strips of wood or iron and governs the level of the pulp in the cell. The discharge of each weir falls by gravity into the transfer passage under the next cell and is drawn up as before by the impeller. The pulp passes in this way through the whole machine until it is finally discharged as a tailing, the froth from each cell being drawn off into the appropriate concentrate launder.

No pipes are normally fitted for the transference of froth or other middling product back to the head of the machine or to any intermediate point. Should this be necessary, however, the material can be taken by gravity to the required cell through a pipe, which is bent at its lower end to pass under the bottom liner and project into the transfer passage, thus delivering its product into the stream of pulp that is being drawn up by the impeller

Particulars of the various sizes of M.S. Machines are given in Table 21. It should be noted that the size of a machine is usually defined by the diameter of its impeller ; for instance, the largest one would be described as a 24-inch machine.

The Sub-A Machine, invented by A. W. Fahrenwald and developed in many respects as an improvement in the Minerals Separation Machine, from which it differs considerably in detail, particularly in the method of aerating the pulp, although the principle of its action is essentially the same. Its construction can be seen from Figs. 33 and 34.

In common with the M.S. type of machine, it consists of a series of square cells fitted with rotating impellers. Each cell, however, is of unit construction, a complete machine being built up by mounting the required number of units on a common foundation and connecting up the pipes which transfer the pulp from one cell to the next. The cells are constructed of welded steel. The impeller, which can be rubber-lined,if required, carries six blades set upright on a circular dished disc, and is securely fixed to the lower end of the vertical driving shaft. It is covered with a stationary hood, to which are attached a stand-pipe, a feed pipe, and the middling return pipes. The underside of the hood is fitted with a renewable liner of rubber or cast-iron. The pulp, entering the first cell through the feed pipe and sometimes through the middling pipes, falls on to the impeller, the rotation of which throws it outwards into the bottom zone of agitation. The suction effect due to the rotationof the impeller draws enough air down the standpipe to supply the aeration necessary for normal operation. A portion of the pulp, cascading over the open tops of the impeller blades, entraps and breaks up the entrained air, the resulting spray-like mixture being then thrown out into the lower zone of agitation, where it is disseminated through the pulp as a cloud of fine bubbles. Should this amount of aeration be insufficient, air can be blown in under slight pressure through a hole near the top of the stand-pipe, in which case a rubber bonnet is fastenedto the lower bearing and clamped round the top of the stand-pipe so as to seal the supply from the atmosphere.

The bottom part of the cell is protected from wear by renewable cast-iron or rubber liners. Four vertical baffles, placed diagonally on the top of the hood, break up the swirl of the pulp and intensify theagitation in the lower zone. The pumping action of the impeller combined with the rising current of air bubbles carries the pulp to the quieter upper zone, where the bubbles, already coated with mineral, travel upwards, drop out many of the gangue particles which may have become entangled with them, and finally collect on the surface of the pulp as a mineralizedfroth. One side of the cell is sloped outwards so as to form, in conjunction with a vertical baffle, a spitzkasten-shaped zone of quiet settlement, where any remaining particles of gangue that have been caught and held between the bubbles are shaken out of the froth as it flows to the overflow lip at the front of the cell. The baffle prevents rising bubbles from entering the outer zone, thus enabling the gangue material released from the froth to drop down unhindered into the lower zone. A revolving paddle scrapes the froth past the overflow lip into the concentrate launder.

Should the machine be required to handle more than the normal volume of froth, it is built with a spitzkasten zone on both sides of the cell. For the flotation of ores containing very little mineral the spitzkasten is omitted so as to crowd the froth into the smallest possible space, the front of the cell being made vertical for the purpose.

Circulation of the pulp through the lower zone of agitation is maintained by means of extra holes at the base of the stand-pipe on a level with the middling return pipes. An adjustable weir provides for the discharge of the pulp to the next cell, which it enters through a feed-pipe as before. Below the weir on a level with the hood is a small sand holeand pipe through which coarse material can pass direct to the next cell without having to be forced up over the weir. The same process is repeated in each cell of the series, the froth being scraped over the lip of the machine, while the pulp passes from cell to cell until it is finally discharged as a tailing from the last one. The middling pipes make it an easy matter for froth from any section of the machine to be returned if necessary to any cell without the use of pumps.

Table 22 gives particulars of the sizes and power requirements of Denver Sub-A Machines and Table 23 is an approximate guide to their capacities under different conditions. The number of cells needed

Onemethod of driving the vertical impeller shafts of M.S. Subaeration or Denver Sub-A Machines is by quarter-twist belts from a horizontal lineshaft at the back of the machine, the lineshaft being driven in turn by a belt from a motor on the ground. This method is not very satisfactory according to modern standards, firstly, because the belts are liable to stretch and slip off, and, secondly, because adequate protection againstaccidents due to the belts breaking is difficult to provide without making the belts themselves inaccessible. A more satisfactory drive, with which most M.S. Machines are equipped, consists of a lineshaft over the top of the cells from which each impeller is driven through bevel gears. The lineshaft can be driven by a belt from a motor on the ground, by Tex- ropes from one mounted on the frame work of the machine, or by direct coupling to a slow-speed motor. This overhead gear drive needs careful adjustment and maintenance. Although it may run satisfactorily for years, trouble has been experienced at times, generally in plants where skilled mechanics have not been available. The demand for something more easily adjusted led to the development of a special form of Tex-rope drive which is shown in Fig. 35. Every impeller shaft is fitted at the top with a grooved pulley, which is driven by Tex-ropes from a vertical motor. This method is standard on Denver Sub-A Machines, and M.S. Machines are frequently equipped with it as well, but the former type are not made with the overhead gear drive except to special order.

The great advantage of mechanically agitated machines is that every cell can be regulated separately, and that reagents can be added when necessary at any one of them. Since, as a general rule, the most highly flocculated mineral will become attached to a bubble in preference to a less floatable particle, in normal operation the aeration in the first few cells of a machine should not be excessive ; theoretically there should be no more bubbles in the pulp than are needed to bring up the valuable minerals. By careful control of aeration it should be possible for the bulk of the minerals to be taken off the first few cells at the feed end of the machine in a concentrate rich enough to be easily cleaned, and sometimes of high enough grade to be sent straight to the filtering section as a finished product. The level of the pulp in these cells is usually kept comparatively low in order to provide a layer of froth deep enough to give entangled particles of gangue every chance of dropping out, but it must not be so low that the paddles are prevented from skimming off the whole of the top layer of rich mineral. Towards the end of the machine a scavenging action is necessary to make certain that the least possible amount of valuable mineral escapes in the tailing, for which purpose the gates of the discharge weirs are raised higher than at the feed end, and the amountof aeration may have to be increased. The froth from the scavenging cells is usually returned to the head of the machine, the middling pipes of the Denver Sub-A Machine being specially designed for such a purpose. The regulation of the cleaning cells is much the same as that of the first few cells of the primary or roughing machine, to the head of which the tailing from the last of the cleaning cells is usually returned.

A blower is sometimes required with the M.S. Subaeration Machine. Since each cell is fitted with an air pipe and valve, accurate regulation of aeration is a simple matter. The Denver Sub-A, Kraut, and Fagergren Machines, however, are run without blowers, enough air being drawn into the machines by suction.

In the Geco New-Cell Flotation Cellthe pneumatic principle is utilized in conjunction with an agitating device. The machine, which is illustrated in Fig. 44, consists of a trough or cell made of steel or wood, whichever is more convenient, through the bottom of which projects a series of air pipes fitted with circular mats of perforated rubber. The method of securing the mat to the air pipe can be seen from Fig. 45. Over each mat rotates a moulded rubber disc of slightlylarger diameter at a peripheral speed of 2,500 ft. per minute. It is mounted on a driving spindle as shown in Fig. 46. Each spindle is supported and aligned by ball-bearings contained in a single dust- and dirt-proof casting, and each pair is driven from a vertical motor through Tex-ropes and grooved pulleys, a rigid steel structure supporting the whole series of spindles with their driving mechanism. The machine can be supplied, if required, however, with a quarter-twist drive from a lineshaft over flat pulleys.

The air inlet pipes are connected to a main through a valve by which the amount of air admitted to each mat can be accurately controlled. The air is supplied by a low-pressure blower working at about 2 lb. per square inch. It enters the cell through the perforations in the rubber mat and is split up into a stream of minute bubbles, which are distributed evenly throughout the pulp by the action of the revolving disc. By this means a large volume of finely-dispersed air is introduced withoutexcessive agitation. There is sufficient agitation, however, to produce a proper circulation in the cell, but not enough to cause any tendency to surge or to disturb the froth on the surface of the pulp. All swirling movement is checked by the liner-baffles with which the sides of the cell are lined ; their construction can be seen in Fig. 44. They are constructed of white cast iron and are designed to last the life of the machine, the absence of violent agitation making this possible.The pulp must be properly conditioned before entering the machine. It is admitted through a feed box at one end at a point above the first disc, and passes along the length of the cell to the discharge weir without being made to pass over intermediate weirs between the discs. The height of the weir at the discharge end thus controls the level of the pulp in the machine. The froth that forms on the surface overflows the froth lip in a continuous stream without the aid of scrapers, its depth being controlled at any point by means of adjustable lip strips combined with regulation of the air.The Geco New-Cell is made in four sizesviz., 18-, 24-, 36-, and 48-in. machines, the figure representing the length of the side of the squarecell. Particulars of the three smallest sizes are given in Table 27. Figures are not available for the largest size.

flotation feed - an overview | sciencedirect topics

flotation feed - an overview | sciencedirect topics

In suspension, it is essential that the impeller or air jet of the machine is capable of keeping the solids in the pulp in suspension. If the degree of agitation is inadequate then solids, particularly the largest particles, will tend to settle out. Some settling out, for example in the corners of the cell, is not serious but significant sanding of the cell floor will upset pulp flow patterns within the cell and prevent proper contact between suspended particles and air bubbles. Particles not in suspension cannot make effective contact with air bubbles.

Effective aeration requires that the bubbles be finely disseminated, and that the air rate is sufficiently high, not only to provide sufficient bubbles to make contact with the particles but also to provide a stable froth of reasonable depth. Usually, the type and amount of frother will be able to influence the froth layer, but the frother and air rate can both be used as variables.

The difficulty facing the flotation designer is that the cell performance is a strong function of the size of the particles to be floated, and that flotation feeds contain a wide range of particle sizes. For any given particle size, the effects of impeller speed and bubble diameter can be summarised as follows [1]:

If the bubble size is too large, the fewer will be the number of bubbles created for a constant air flowrate. Since the overall rate of flotation depends on the number as well as on the size of the bubbles, the recovery will drop.

This sets the boundaries for the optimum conditions of impeller speed and bubble size for flotation of any feed. If the feed size range is broad, then the optimum conditions for flotation of the coarse particles may be considerably different to the optimum conditions for the flotation recovery of the fine particles.

The pressure near the centre of the rotating impeller is lower than the ambient pressure at the same point if the rotating impeller were not present. This is due to the centrifugal pressure gradients induced by the rotation. The pressure near the impeller may be so low as to be less than the hydrostatic pressure in the pulp so that a pipe placed near the impeller and open to the atmosphere may suck air into the impeller region. This is known as induced air and the practice of introducing air into the impeller region is called sub-aeration. Common practice in coal flotation is to use this induced air as the only aeration mechanism. In mineral flotation it is common to supercharge the air to provide a slight excess pressure to give a greater amount of air per unit volume of pulp.

Flotation impellers would be expected to follow a similar equation, although a slightly different constant may be found. The circulation rates are very high. For example, a 14.2 m3 cell with an impeller of diameter 0.84m, rotating at 114rpm, would have an internal circulation of 51 m3 per minute, thus circulating the cell contents between three and four times a minute. The interaction of the liquid circulating in the cell due to the impeller and the air introduced into the impeller generates the size and distribution of bubbles found in the cell.

At very low rates (QVA/D3<0.02), the air enters the core of the vortices formed behind the tips of the blades, with a strong outwards velocity component due to the pumping action. The bubble size and number are small.

At higher rates (0.02

As the air rate continually increases, the power consumption decreases, because an increasing proportion of the space in the impeller is occupied by air. Increasing the air rate leads to a lower liquid circulation rate to the extent that the suspended particles may settle out. The general behaviour of the power ratio (the ratio of power consumed in the cell to the power consumed with no air flow) versus the air-flow number is shown in Figure18.5.

The onset of flooding coincides with a sudden drop in the power consumption, and is influenced somewhat by impeller design. For best operation a cell should operate well below the flooding gas velocity. Flooding results in very large bubbles, which are of little value for flotation. For example, it is found that a reduction in air flow to an induced air flotation cell by closing off part of the air intake can substantially improve the recovery.

This chapter is concerned with the processing of the coarse and small (also called intermediate) feed size fractions, larger than about 1.0mm, up to typically 50mm or even as large as 300mm. Standard practice in Australia is to break the feed to pass 50mm before using DMCs. The lower particle size set for the DMC is often about 1.0mm. However, a finer size might be used, e.g. 0.5mm, if flotation is the only other separation method employed.

There appears, however, to be a growing realisation that fines classification at 0.5mm wedge wire to generate a flotation feed is in many instances not the best choice. The wedge wire permits elongated particles larger than 0.5mm through and, given screen wear, relatively large particles~1mm are sent to flotation cells. The flotation recovery of these relatively large particles is often very poor; hence vast quantities of fine coal are lost in flotation tailings.

Thus there is an argument that 0.5mm is too coarse for efficient flotation, which means that a fine stream becomes applicable, say between 0.20 and 1.0mm. With parallel circuits, the goal is to run them all at constant incremental ash in order to maximise overall plant yield (Luttrell et al., 2003). There is also new interest in running the classifying screen above 1.0mm. The argument is that less classifying screen area is required, and hence capital investment can be reduced. A further argument is that DMC performance breaks away below 4.0mm, and increasingly below 2.0mm. This effect is believed to be greater in large DMCs, but this issue is contested (see Section10.3.3). This again increases the need for an intermediate stream, now perhaps between 0.25 and 2.0mm.

Particle agglomeration by coagulation and flocculation is used for thickeners and filters to assist in dewatering. Coagulation through salts reduces the surface potential of the solids, and thus enables agglomeration through van der Waals forces. Coagulation results in micro-flocs. It is particularly important for coal tailings containing high clay content. Flocculation utilising synthetic polymeric chemicals as bridging flocculation is used for flotation coal dewatering in vacuum filters, and also introduced into screen bowl centrifuges to assist the separation within them. Sufficient floc conditioning (Bickert and Vince, 2010) by appropriate mixing energy and mixing time after adding the flocculant is important. Modern simple plants, which gravity feed flotation concentrate directly from the flotation cell launder onto filters, usually do not provide sufficient shear for floc mixing, or residence time for floc formation. This is believed to lead to over-flocculation.

Coal beneficiation requires the fractioning of the ROM coal, and these different size fractions are effectively dewatered by different equipment. Most SLS equipment is maximally effective for a particular (narrow) size fraction. While this is the case for coarse and fine coal centrifuges, the addition of coarse aids ultrafines filtration, in particular when the packing density is maximised and a homogeneous isotropic cake structure can be achieved (Anlauf, 1990).

Thickening flotation concentrate and tailings prior to filtration reduces the amount of water to be removed by filtration, and thus increases the capacity but also dampens fluctuations within the thickener, resulting in a more consistent, stable filter operation. This is particularly beneficial for throughput increase on high capacity vacuum disc filters while the capacity increase for pilot and full-scale filters is as per prediction by filtration theory (Bickert, 2006).

Vibrating screens are used to remove most of the water on coarse coal after wet beneficiation prior to centrifugation. They can be used as final dewatering devices, either for coarse reject or very coarse product such as from jigs and baths. Screens are also used extensively in other duties for sizing and desliming within coal preparation plants.

Operating above the maximum capacity can cause the performance of flotation cells to be poor even when adequate slurry residence time is available (Lynch et al., 1981). For example, Fig. 11.21 shows the impact of increasing volumetric feed flow rate on cell performance (Luttrell et al., 1999). The test data obtained at 2% solids correlates well with the theoretical performance curve predicted using a mixed reactor model (Levenspiel, 1972). Under this loading, coal recovery steadily decreased as feed rate increased due to a reduction in residence time. However, as the solids content was increased to 10% solids, the recovery dropped sharply and deviated substantially from the theoretical curve due to froth overloading. This problem can be particularly severe in coal flotation due to the high concentration of fast floating solids in the flotation feed and the presence of large particles in the flotation froth. Flotation columns are particularly sensitive to froth loading due to the small specific surface area (ratio of cross-sectional area to volume) for these units.

Theoretical studies indicate that loading capacity (i.e., carrying capacity) of the froth, which is normally reported in terms of the rate of dry solids floated per unit cross-sectional area, is strongly dependent on the size of particles in the froth (Sastri, 1996). Studies and extensive test work conducted by Eriez personnel also support this finding. As seen in Fig. 11.22, a direct correlation exists between capacity and both the mean size (d50) and ultrafines content of the flotation feedstock. The true loading capacity may be estimated from laboratory and pilot-scale flotation tests by conducting experiments as a function of feed solids content (Finch and Dobby, 1990). Field surveys indicate that conventional flotation machines can be operated with loading capacities of up to 1.52.0t/h/m2 for finer (0.150mm) feeds and 56t/h/m2 or more for coarser (0.600mm) feeds. Most of the full-scale columns in the coal industry operate at froth loading capacities less than 1.5t/h/m2 for material finer than 0.150mm and as high as 3.0t/h/m2 for flotation feed having a top size of 0.300mm feeds.

Froth handling is a major problem in coal flotation. Concentrates containing large amounts of ultrafine (<0.045mm) coal generally become excessively stable, creating serious problems related to backup in launders and downstream handling. Bethell and Luttrell (2005) demonstrated that coarser deslime froths readily collapsed, but finer froths had the tendency to remain stable for an indefinite period of time. Attempts made to overcome this problem by selecting weaker frothers or reducing frother dosage have not been successful and have generally led to lower circuit recoveries. Therefore, several circuit modifications have been adopted by the coal industry to deal with the froth stability problem. For example, froth launders need to be considerably oversized with steep slopes to reduce backup. Adequate vertical head must also be provided between the launder and downstream dewatering operations. In addition, piping and chute work must be designed such that the air can escape as the froth travels from the flotation circuit to the next unit operation.

Figure 11.23 shows how small changes in piping arrangements can result in better process performance. Shown in Fig. 11.23 is a column whose performance suffered due to the inability to move the froth product from the column launder although a large discharge nozzle (11m) had been provided. In this example, the froth built up in the launder and overflowed when the operators increased air rates. To prevent this problem, the air rates were lowered, which resulted in less than optimum coal recovery. It was determined that the downstream discharge piping was air-locking and preventing the launders from properly draining. The piping was replaced with larger chute work that allowed the froth to flow freely and the air to escape. As a result, higher aeration rates were possible and recoveries were significantly improved.

Some installations have resorted to using defoaming agents or high-pressure launder sprays to deal with froth stability. However, newer column installations eliminate this problem by including large de-aeration tanks to allow time for the froth to collapse (Fig. 11.24a). Special provisions may also be required to ensure that downstream dewatering units can accept the large froth volumes. For example, standard screen-bowl centrifuges equipped with 100mm inlets may need to be retrofitted with 200mm or larger inlets to minimize flow restrictions. In addition, while the use of screen-bowl centrifuges provides low product moistures, there are typically fine coal losses, as a large portion of the float product finer than 0.045mm is lost as main effluent. This material is highly hydrophobic and will typically accumulate on top of the thickener as a very stable froth layer, which increases the probability that the process water quality will become contaminated (i.e., black water).

This phenomenon is more prevalent in by-zero circuits, especially when the screen-bowl screen effluent is recycled back through the flotation circuit, either directly or through convoluted plant circuitry. Reintroducing material that has already been floated to the flotation circuit can result in a circulating load of very fine and highly floatable material. As a result, the capacity of the flotation equipment can be significantly reduced, which results in losses of valuable coal. Most installations will combat this by ensuring that the screen-bowl screen effluent is routed directly back to the screen bowl so that it does not return to the flotation circuit. The accumulation of froth on the thickener, which tends to be especially problematic in by-zero circuitry, is also reduced by utilizing reverse-weirs and taller center wells, as this approach helps to limit the amount of froth that can enter into the process water supply. Froth that does form on top of the clarifier can be eliminated by employing a floating boom that is placed directly in the thickener (Fig. 11.24b) and used in conjunction with water sprays. The floating boom can be constructed out of inexpensive PVC piping, and is typically attached to the rotating rakes. The boom floats on the water interface and drags any froth around to the walkway that extends over the thickener, where it is eliminated by the sprays.

The concept of processing fine coal in spirals is not new. Innovation in design and construction materials has improved the performance of spirals. High levels of processing efficiency can be realised at comparatively low capital and operating cost. Plant capacity can be increased by diverting part of HM cyclones and froth flotation feed in an existing plant to spirals. The efficiency levels can be further improved by rewashing the middlings of primary spirals in secondary units. The drawback of the spiral circuits is their inability to make a low density cut at below 1.5 sp. gr. (Bethel, 1988). Spirals are the largest amongst the fine coal-cleaning technologies due to the following advantages (Honaker et al., 2013):

Spirals are used extensively to process fine (<10.15mm) coal. A spiral consists of a corkscrew-shaped conduit (Fig. 8.13) with a modified semicircular cross-section (Luttrell and Honaker, 2013). The slurry is fed at the top of the spiral, usually from a constant head tank. The design of the device imposes a centrifugal force in addition to the flowing-film separation. The combination of these actions forces the low-density particles outward, while the high-density particles are driven inward. The coal and refuse particles are separated at the bottom of the trough by splitting the flow into clean coal, refuse and usually middling streams (Klima, 2013). Adjustable diverters (called splitters) are used to control the proportion of particles that report to the various products. Conventional spirals have 5.25 turns around the vertical shaft, whereas compound spirals have seven turns. Compound spirals combine a two-stage operation into a single unit.

Since spirals have low unit capacity (24t/h), several units (two or three) are intertwined along a single central axis to increase the capacity for a given floor space. Multiple spirals are usually combined into a bank fed by an overhead common radial distributor each having a separate feed point or start. Spirals have been successfully utilised in combination with water-only cyclones to improve the efficiency of separating fine coal (Honaker et al., 2007), such as:

Lack of uniformity in feeding results in substantial falls in operating efficiency and can lead to severe losses in recovery, this is especially true with coal spirals (Holland-Bat, 1993). This is due to the creation of differences in RD cut-off points between different spiral units.

Control of dry solids tonnage, slurry flow rate, feed solids content, distributer level, oversized particles, sanding/beaching and good operating practices with effective maintenance programmes (Luttrell, 2014).

As in coal flotation, oil agglomeration takes advantage of the difference between the surface properties of low-ash coal and high-ash gangue particles, and can cope with even finer particles than flotation. In this process, coal particles are agglomerated under conditions of intense agitation. The following separation of the agglomerates from the suspension of the hydrophilic gangue is carried out by screening.

The amount of oil that is required is in the range of 510% by weight of solids. Published data indicate that the importance of agitation time increases as oil density and viscosity increase, and that the conditioning time required to form satisfactory coal agglomerates decreases as the agitation is intensified. Because the agitation initially serves to disperse the bridging oil to contact the oil droplets and coal particles, higher shear mixing with a lower viscosity bridging liquid is desirable in the first stage (microagglomeration), and less intense agitation with the addition of higher viscosity oil (macroagglomeration) is desirable in the second stage. Viscous oil may produce larger agglomerates that retain less moisture. With larger oil additions (20% by weight of solids), the moisture content of the agglomerated product can be well below 20% and may be reduced even further if tumbling is used in the second stage instead of agitation.

The National Research Council of Canada developed the spherical agglomeration process in the 1960s. This process takes place in two stages: First, the coal slurry is agitated with light oil in high shear blenders where microagglomerates are formed; then the microagglomerates are subjected to dewatering on screen and additional pelletizing with heavy oil.

Shell developed a novel mixing device to condition oil with suspension. Application of the Shell Pelletizing Separator to coal cleaning yielded very hard, uniform in size, and simple to dewater pellets at high coal recoveries. The German Oilfloc Process was developed to treat the high-clay, 400-mesh fraction of coal, which is the product of flotation feed desliming. In the process developed by the Central Fuel Research Institute of India, coal slurry is treated with diesel oil (2% additions) in mills and then agglomerated with 812% additions of heavy oil.

It is known that low rank and/or oxidized coals are not a suitable feedstock for beneficiation by the oil agglomeration method. The research carried out at the Alberta Research Council has shown, however, that bridging liquids, comprising mainly bitumen and heavy refinery residues are very efficient in agglomeration of thermal bituminous coals. Similar results had earlier been reported in the flotation of low rank coals; the process was much improved when 20% of no. 6 heavy oil was added to 2 fuel oil.

This is another oil agglomeration process that can cope with extremely fine particles. In this process, fine raw coal, crushed below 10cm, is comminuted in hammer crushers to below 250m and mixed with water to make a 50% by weight suspension; this is further ground below 15m and then diluted with water to 15% solids by weight. Such a feed is agglomerated with the use of Freon-113, and the coal agglomerates and dispersed mineral matter are separated over screen. The separated coal-agglomerated product retains 1040% water and is subjected to thermal drying; Freon-113, with its boiling point at 47C, evaporates, and after condensing is returned liquified to the circuit. The product coal may retain 50ppm of Freon and 3040% water.

Various coals cleaned in the Otisca T-Process contained in most cases below 1% ash, with the carbonaceous material recovery claimed to be almost 100%. Such a low ash content in the product indicates that very fine grinding liberates even micromineral matter (the third level of heterogeneity); it also shows Freon-113 to be an exceptionally selective agglomerant.

In some countries, for example in Western Canada, the major obstacles to the development of a coal mining industry are transportation and the beneficiation/utilization of fines. Selective agglomeration during pipelining offers an interesting solution in such cases. Since, according to some assessments, pipelining is the least expensive means for coal transportation over long distances, this ingenious invention combines cheap transportation with very efficient beneficiation and dewatering. The Alberta Research Council experiments showed that selective agglomeration of coal can be accomplished in a pipeline operated under certain conditions. Compared with conventional oil agglomeration in stirred tanks, the long-distance pipeline agglomeration yields a superior product in terms of water and oil content as well as the mechanical properties of the agglomerates. The agglomerated coal can be separated over a 0.7-mm screen from the slurry. The water content in agglomerates was found to be 28% for metallurgical coals, 615% for thermal coals (high-volatile bituminous Alberta), and 723% for subbituminous coal. The ash content of the raw metallurgical coal was 18.939.8%, and the ash content of agglomerates was 815.4%. For thermal coals the agglomeration reduced the ash content from 19.848.0 to 512.8%, which, of course, is accompanied by a drastic increase in coal calorific value. Besides transportation and beneficiation, the agglomeration also facilitates material handling; the experiments showed that the agglomerates can be pipelined over distances of 10002000km.

Flotation has progressed and developed over the years; recent trends to achieve better liberation by fine grinding have intensified the search for more advanced means of improving selectivity. This involves not only more selective flotation agents but also better flotation equipment. Since the froth product in conventional flotation machines contains entrained fine gangue, which is carried into the froth with feed water, the use of froth spraying was suggested in the late 1950s to eliminate this type of froth contamination. The flotation column patented in Canada in the early 1960s and marketed by the Column Flotation Company of Canada, Ltd., combines these ideas in the form of wash water supplied to the froth. The countercurrent wash water introduced at the top of a long column prevents the feed water and the slimes that it carries from entering an upper layer of the froth, thus enhancing selectivity.

The microbubble flotation column (Microcel) developed at Virginia Tech is based on the basic premise that the rate (k) at which fine particles collide with bubbles increases as the inverse cube of the bubble size (Db), i.e., k1/Db3. In the Microcel, small bubbles in the range of 100500m are generated by pumping a slurry through an in-line mixer while introducing air into the slurry at the front end of the mixer. The microbubbles generated as such are injected into the bottom of the column slightly above the section from which the slurry is with drawn for bubble generation. The microbubbles rise along the height of the column, pick up the coal particles along the way, and form a layer of froth at the top section of the column. Like most other columns, it utilizes wash water added to the froth phase to remove the entrained ash-forming minerals. Advantages of the Microcel are that the bubble generators are external to the column, allowing for easy maintenance, and that the bubble generators are nonplugging. An 8-ft diameter column uses four 4-in. in-line mixers to produce 56 tons of clean coal from a cyclone overflow containing 50% finer than 500 mesh.

Another interesting and quite different column was developed at Michigan Tech. It is referred to as a static tube flotation machine, and it incorporates a packed-bed column filled with a stack of corrugated plates. The packing elements arranged in blocks positioned at right angles to each other break bubbles into small sizes and obviate the need for a sparger. Wash water descends through the same flow passages as air (but countercurrently) and removes entrained particles from the froth product. It was shown in both the laboratory and the process demonstration unit that this device handles extremely well fine below 500-mesh material.

Another novel concept is the Air-Sparged Hydrocyclone developed at the University of Utah. In this device, the slurry fed tangentially through the cyclone header into the porous cylinder to develop a swirl flow pattern intersects with air sparged through the jacketed porous cylinder. The froth product is discharged through the overflow stream.

Coal flotation is a separation process performed mainly based on differences in surface hydrophobicity between coal and gangue. The flotation reagent can improve the hydrophobicity of coal, and also the adhesion between coal and air bubbles. Kerosene and light diesel oil are widely used as collectors in coal flotation. However, collectors are not completely dispersing in water due to their chemical stability, hydrophobicity and symmetric structure. Besides, flotation feeds contain massive fine and even ultra-fine clay, resulting in poor selectivity of the reagent toward coal particles and even requirement of higher dosages of reagent. However, the ultrasound can tremendously improve the properties of flotation reagent [5357]. So emulsified collectors by ultrasound are beneficial to improve the adsorption speed of collector over coal surface and selectivity of the collector toward coal particles in coal flotation.

Emulsification, i.e. intimate mixing of two immiscible liquids was one of the first applications of ultrasound, which has begun as early as in the 1927 [58,59]. Ultrasound is a very efficient emulsification technology than others such as mechanical agitation. [22]. As a result of cavitation, the excess energy for creating the new interface decreases the interfacial tension, which breaks the large oil droplets into small droplets [6062]. It is shown that emulsions produced by ultrasound are stable [63] with smaller droplets [64,65], and consumes lower energy [66] than mechanical action for producing emulsions [67,68]. It is beneficial to improve adhesion between reagent and mineral particles as well as flotation efficiency [56,60,69].

The properties of emulsified reagents by ultrasound are affected by many factors, such as surfactants, temperature, pressure, ultrasonic parameters, emulsifier concentration, and viscosity [22]. Bondy and Sllner [70] qualitatively analyzed the ultrasonic emulsification process. They found an optimum in emulsification efficiency occurred at an absolute pressure of about two atmospheres. Li and Fogler [71,72] considered the ultrasonic time as the key parameter in ultrasound emulsification since a very short time (a few seconds) only produce coarse emulsions (e.g. 70m droplets), whereas longer time can produce submicron emulsions. In addition, they also proposed a two-step mechanism of acoustic emulsification, as shown in Fig. 8.

The first step involves a combination of interfacial waves and Rayleigh-Taylor instability, leading to the conversion of dispersed phase droplets into the continuous phase. The second step is the breakup of droplets through cavitation near the interface. Therefore, it can be considered that the intense effects such as disruption and mixing of shock waves are the key for producing very small droplet size.

Generally, the less viscous liquid (e.g. water) undergoes cavitation more easily [73] and becomes the emulsion continuous phase (oil-in-water, O/W, or direct emulsion). The cavitation threshold decreases with liquid viscosity. The cavitation threshold is lower in the less viscous liquid, which can better disperse the oil droplets in the water and form the emulsion continuous phase. A reverse emulsion (water-in-oil, W/O type) can be obtained by changing type of emulsifier, oil-water ratio as well as ultrasonic field conditions [22]. Currently, the W/O preparation by ultrasound has been rarely reported. This is because the W/O emulsions are unstable and their properties such as droplet size are difficult to be directly analyzed compared with the O/W emulsions [74]. In addition, Wood and Loomis [58] proposed that ultrasonic emulsification was the unique phenomenon that one liquid incompletely permeated into other liquid to further form small droplets. The kinetics of ultrasonic emulsification were investigated by Rajagopal based on experimental data and theory analysis [75]. A working model to determine the rate of ultrasonic emulsification was proposed, considering the dispersion at the interface and the coagulations of the emulsion. The results are important to understand the individual contributions of dispersion and coagulation to emulsion formation.

During the process of ultrasonic cavitation, cavitation bubbles rapidly collapse in a short time by high-frequency oscillation, which produce shock waves and microjets in liquid accompanying with local high pressure (>100MPa) and high temperature (5000K) [41,76]. Therefore, collector, such as kerosene and light diesel oil, can be dispersed to form smaller oil droplets with uniform distribution in suspension. Kang et al. [54] investigated flotation performance of bituminous coal using ultrasonic emulsified kerosene. The results showed that the droplet size after ultrasonic emulsification of kerosene gradually increased with a decrease in the ratio of oil-water. However, the relationship of wetting heat of emulsified kerosene and ratio of oil-water showed a positive correlation. The decrease in the ratio of oil-water can weaken the stability of the droplet after ultrasonic emulsification. In addition, the average contact angle of coal slime was improved using emulsified kerosene, leading to the improvement of efficiency and selectivity of coal flotation. Ruan et al. [53] reported that the stability of emulsified diesel was impacted by some factors such as the dosage of emulsifier, ratio of oil-water, ultrasonic time and the dosage of butyl alcohol as shown in Table 1. Table 1 shows the influence of different factors on emulsion stability: dosage of emulsifier>ratio of oil-water>ultrasonic time>dosage of butyl alcohol. Under the same reagent consumption, emulsified diesel can obtain a lower concentrate ash content compared with unemulsified kerosene whereas the concentrate yield had no change.

Sahinolu and Uslu [77] also found that size of the oil droplets decreased with an increase of ultrasonic power and treatment time. At oil agglomeration tests of oxidized coal fines, ash and pyritic sulfur rejections without ultrasonic emulsification were 50.38% and 85.28%, respectively and were increased to maximally 56.89% and 88.69% respectively by using ultrasonic emulsification before agglomeration, as shown in Fig. 9. Increasing ultrasonic power didn't affect ash and pyritic sulfur rejections considerably whereas increasing ultrasonic treatment time at higher power levels had positively affected for them. In addition, Fig. 9 also shows that both ultrasonic power and treatment time affected the combustible recovery adversely, which may be caused by small size of oil droplets limiting growth of agglomerates. Coal particles of 0.5mm size fraction may be too coarse and removed from the agglomerate structure due to effect of gravitational force, resulting in destruction of the stability of the agglomeration. In order to eliminate this adverse effect of ultrasonic emulsification on combustible recovery, they proposed a method for reducing the particle size of coal particles.

Letmathe et al. [78] found that the application of ultrasound during emulsified reagents could achieve an improvement in separation efficiency. Therefore, the purity and ash content of the graphite at a constant solids recovery were improved and decreased, respectively. Sun et al. [79] found that with the aid of emulsifiers, intense high-frequency sound waves were effective in emulsifying any collector in water. The ultrasonic emulsified collectors were more effective in the flotation of bituminous coal than the non-emulsified collectors, particularly for the insoluble and slightly soluble ones.

In addition, the dispersive effects also lead to the formation of an emulsion when ultrasound is applied to a pulp containing stabilizers such as surfactant. The use of ultrasound in this way can improve the efficiency of the reagents and decrease the consumption of reagent [80]. This is resulted from the reagents more uniform distribution in the suspension after ultrasonic treatment and also in enhancement of the activity of the chemicals [81]. Dyatlov [82] reported that ultrasonic conditioning of the reagents promoted the formation of fine dispersed emulsions in the coal flotation. The yield of concentrate and ash content of the tailings were both improved using these ultrasonic emulsified reagents. Though the ultrasonic emulsified reagents had a positive effect in improving concentrate yield, the selectivity of coal particles in flotation seemed to be decreased. Oyama and Tanaka [83] investigated that the frothers, as a flotation reagent (50g/ton), were emulsified in water using ultrasound with a power of 4W/cm2. Even if the reagents were hardly mixing with water, the emulsions produced by ultrasound can be easily intermixed into the pulp. The recovery of galena was improved from 58% to 93% and the recovery of chalco-pyrite was increased from 73.4% to 88.9% using emulsified reagents when duration of flotation was 5min. Using ultrasonic emulsified reagents can significantly improve the selectivity of minerals flotation. In addition, lowest economical consumption of the reagents was achieved using ultrasonic emulsions.

The ultrasonic emulsified reagents may be not stable because of the high energy input in a range of small volume pulp, near the emitting surface of the ultrasonic probe or transducers. The interaction forces involved in physical adsorption of a reagent molecule are weaker than forces involved in chemical adsorption. The physical bond between reagent molecule and mineral surface can be easily broken by hydrodynamic. Hence, the stabilizer or surface-active reagent is added to prevent mergers of collector droplets and improve stability of ultrasonic emulsified reagents. The amount of surfactant required to give a stable ultrasonic emulsion is generally lower than other techniques such as mechanical agitation. Besides, in actual ultrasonic emulsified process, breaking a planar interface requires a large amount of ultrasonic energy, hence it may be more advisable to first prepare a coarse emulsion (e.g. by gentle mechanical stirring) before applying acoustic power. It is also possible to add the second liquid (dispersed phase) to the first liquid (continuous phase) progressively or feed into a continuous reactor with both phases. This way, ultrasonic treatment can make the reagent more homogeneous in suspension, and further improve the activity and stability of the emulsified reagent by adding chemical reagent. The ultrasonic emulsification can also bring substantial cost savings [8487].

flotation '21

flotation '21

The 10th International Flotation Conference (Flotation '21) is organised by MEI in consultation with Prof. Jim Finch and is sponsored by Promet101, Maelgwyn Mineral Services, Magotteaux, Gold Ore, CiDRA Minerals Processing, Hudbay Minerals, Senmin, Clariant, BASF, Eriez, Nouryon, Festo, Newmont,Cancha, Zeiss,FLSmidthand Kemtec-Africa.

flotation process - an overview | sciencedirect topics

flotation process - an overview | sciencedirect topics

Flotation processes are based on the different surface wettability properties of materials (Wang etal., 2015). In principle, flotation works very similarly to a sink and float process, where the density characteristics of the materials, with respect to that of the medium where they are placed are at the base of the separation. Sometimes a centrifugal field is applied to enhance separation. Flotation works in a different way in the sense that in a liquid medium, usually water, a carrier is introduced, air bubbles, responsible to float hydrophobic particles that adhere to the bubbles with respect to the hydrophilic ones that sink. According to surface plastic characteristics, this technique can be profitably applied, in principle, to separate waste polymers (Fraunholcz, 2004). To enhance or reduce plastic surface characteristics (i.e., hydrophobic or hydrophilic) appropriate collectors, conditioners (Singh, 1998; Shen etal., 2002), and flotation cell operative conditions (i.e., air flow rate, agitation) can be utilized. Usually plastic flotation is carried out in alkaline conditions (Takoungsakdakun and Pongstabodee, 2007). Once floated, hydrophobic polymers are recovered as well as the sunk ones (i.e., hydrophilic) at the bottom of the cell. This technique, even if it is well-known (Buchan and Yarar, 1995) and in principle quite powerful is not widely used mainly for three reasons: (1) it is a wet technique, this means that water has to be recovered and processed before reutilization, due to the presence of the reagents and contaminants, (2) polymer surface status (i.e., presence of dirtiness/pollutants and/or of physical/chemical alteration) can strongly affect floatability, and (3) large variation of waste plastics feed in terms of composition. Flotation allows to separate PS, PVC, PET, PC, and mixed polyolefins (MPO).

The flotation process depends on several design and operational variables. We consider a superstructure that includes the following three flotation stages: the rougher, which processes the feed; the cleaner, which generates the final concentrate; and the scavenger, which generates the final tailing, as shown in Fig. (1). This is a simple superstructure but is used here as an example.

The objective is to maximize the total income with respect to the operation conditions and process design. The decision variables to be optimized are divided into design and operating variables. The design variables include equipment dimensions, such as the cell volume and total number of cells for each stage. The operating variables correspond to operating times for each cell at each stage and the directions of tails and concentrate streams. In stochastic problems, the operating variables (second level variables) are able to adapt to each scenario to increase the total income. Moreover, the design variables (first level) are the same for all scenarios.

The flotation process depends on several design and operation variables. We consider a superstructure that includes three flotation stages: rougher, scavenger and cleaner stages, as is shown in figure 1. We allow for the consideration of multiple scenarios. The model consider constraints that enforce the kinetics of flotation and the mass balance on each flotation stage, the behavior at the splitters and mixers, the mass balance at the splitters and mixers, direction choice in the splitters, the penalty the seller must pay for arsenic content in the concentrate, cell volumes, and the costs associated with the flotation cells.

For the deterministic, model we have only a single scenario, and the model then simply maximizes the total income subject to the dynamic and economic constraints. In the stochastic models, we assume we have more than one scenario. Because of this, we need to replace the objective by the maximization of the expected total income. For this, we need the probability of a given scenario. In addition, we know that some of our decision variables can depend on the scenarios. This model corresponds to a stochastic MINLP.

In flotation process, the gas or air bubbles are introduced through culture suspension, and the microalgal biomass get attached to gaseous molecules and accumulated on the liquid surface. This method is particularly effective for thin microalgae suspension that could be simply gravity thickening [38]. The basic variations of this process are dispersed air flotation, dissolved air flotation, electroflotation, and ozone flotation [55,56,57]. The ratio of gaseous molecules to microalgae is one of the most important factors affecting the performance of the flotation efficiency. Several researchers have confirmed that ozone flotation was more effective than other methods [58,59]. Also, ozoflotation could improve lipid recovery yields and modify fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) profiles. The ozone flotation could increase the cell flotation efficiency by modifying the cell wall surface and/or releasing the active agents from microalgal cells [60]. Moreover, the ozone flotation can also improve the quality of water by lowering the turbidity and organic contents of the effluent [58]. Flotation separation efficiency relates to bubble size [61]. Smaller size of gas bubbles has lower rise velocity and higher surface area to volume ratio. This enables their longer retention time and better attachment efficiency with the microalgae cells and leads to the increasing in harvesting efficiency by floatation [64]. Thus, one of the most efficient ways of achieving maximum attachment is by generating as many small bubbles as possible [61,62,63]. Combinations of flocculation with flotation have been also used to increase the harvesting efficiency [64,65,66].

In using these equations, however, one must use parameters with consistent units.(1-3)E=(Ci-Co)/Ci(1-4)E=K/(Qw-K')(1-5)E=(6Kpr2hqg)/(qwdb)whereE = efficiency per cellCi = inlet oil concentrationCo = outlet oil concentrationQw = liquid flow rate, BPDKp = mass transfer coefficientr = radius of mixing zoneh = height of mixing zoneqg = gas flow rateqw = liquid flow through the mixing zonedb = diameter of gas bubble

The froth flotation process is more than a century old and was developed over a long period of time [8]. It takes advantage of the surface chemistry of fine particlesif one particles surface is hydrophobic and another is hydrophilic, upon generation of air bubbles, the hydrophobic particles tend to attach to the air bubbles and float, allowing for a separation between particles in the froth and those in the main body of the liquid.

Typically three different types of chemicals are used in the froth flotation process: collector, frother, and modifier. First, the collector is added to the iron ore slurry to selectively coat the iron oxide particles, making the surface hydrophobic. The slurry then goes to a flotation cell, where air bubbles are generated using an impeller and aerator (Figure 1.2.4). At this step, the frother (for example, fuel oil) is added to the ore slurry to form stable froth and air bubbles. Iron oxide particles stick to the air bubbles and float. Floated and concentrated iron ore slurry is then skimmed from the surface of the bath, and water is removed using a filter press. If the desired iron content is not achieved, the process is repeated. A modifier is added in some cases to enhance the performance of the collector. Frother is the most important chemical that must always be present. Without the generation of stable air bubbles, hydrophobic particles will not have anything to attach to and will not separate from the bulk solution.

Depending on the type of collector, either iron oxide or silica particles can be floated. An anionic collector is added to float the iron oxide particles, a cationic collector for the silica particles [9]. Depending on the situation, the pH of the slurry can be adjusted by adding acid to the solution, which may also enhance the properties of the collector.

The basic objective of a flotation device is to keep the pulp in suspension and provide the air bubbles. The size of air bubbles matters as it controls flotation kinetics as well as the carrying capacity of the bubbles. The design technology determines the characteristics of the machine, resulting in concomitant factors like how the collision and contact between air bubbles and particles takes place. The two resultant products, concentrate and tails, need to be evacuated properly. The most widely used flotation machines can be broadly classified into mechanical and pneumatic depending on various factors. The former use impellers or rotors, which are absent in the latter.

The shape of a mechanical flotation tank is essentially rectangular, U-shaped, conical or cylindrical, according to the cell type and size. It is fitted with an impeller/rotor and stator/diffuser. Air enters into the device through a concentric pipe surrounding the impeller shaft either by self-aspiration or aided by a compressor. The function of the rotating impeller is to keep particles in suspension by thoroughly mixing the slurry and dispersing the injected air into fine bubbles through a diffuser. It also provides conditions for promoting particlebubble collisions.

There is a necessity for the generation of three different hydrodynamic zones for effective flotation. The region near the impeller comprises of a turbulent area required for solids suspension, dispersion of air into bubbles and bubbleparticle interaction. Above the turbulent region lies a quiescent zone where the bubbleparticle aggregates move up in a relatively less turbulent sector. This zone also helps in sinking the amount of gangue minerals that may have been entrained mechanically. The third region overhead the quiescent zone is the froth zone serving as an additional cleaning step, and improves the grade of the concentrate. Particles that do not attach to the bubbles are discharged out from the bottom of the cell (Vazirizadeh, 2015). Fig. 5.33 shows a typical schematic of a mechanical cell.

Mechanical cells are arranged in a series called a bank, having enough cells to assure the required particle residence time for adequate recovery, the subaeration cells are arranged in cell-to-cell flow, while the supercharged machines are placed in an open-flow design.

The strongly hydrophobic and optimised-sized particles are likely to float first in a bank of flotation cells. Sluggish flowing particles float in diminishing order, and so forth, giving rise to total recovery of about 100%. A minimum of four cells is required for coal flotation with a residence time of 5 minutes (Euston et al., 2012). The residence time, pulp volume and flotation kinetics play a vital role in determining the selection of the number of cells required in a flotation circuit. To prevent loss of floatable coal along with tailings, it is advisable to put cells in series. Fig. 5.34 indicates the coal recovery through multiple cells (in series) in a bank. Fig. 5.35 demonstrates arrangement of cells both in series and parallel, the series arrangement gives optimum recovery of combustibles.

The most common examples of pneumatic cells are the column cell and the Jameson cell. As shown in Fig. 5.36, a flotation column is typically a tall vertical cylinder. It is fed with coal pulp at the top third of column. It has no mobile parts or agitators. Air bubbles are injected either through external or internal spargers at the bottom. These bubbles rise up in countercurrent with the descending flow of the pulp. Hydrophobic particles attach to the air bubbles forming bubbleparticle aggregates and move upwards. The zone where this process takes place is called the collection zone. The ascending bubbleparticle aggregates accumulate in the upper part of the column called the cleaning or froth zone, and then overflow into a launder as a concentrate. Wash water is sprinkled at the top of the column to wash off entrained gangue (hydrophilic) particles, which are sent back into the collection zone. The application of wash water helps stabilise the froth and produce high-grade froth concentrates. The hydrophilic particles, along with misplaced hydrophobic particles, are finally released at the bottom of the column.

In spite of improved separation performance, low capital and operational cost, less plant space demand, low maintenance cost, ease of operation, lower energy consumption and adaptability to automatic control (Wills and Napier-Munn, 2006), axial mixing can significantly reduce the overall performance, particularly in larger-diameter columns. Axial mixing can be decreased by different methods (Kawatra and Eisele 1999, 2001):

A Jameson cell is schematically presented in Fig. 5.37. A high-pressure jet, created by pumping feed slurry through the slurry lens orifice, enters a cylindrical device called a downcomer. The downcomer acts as an air entrainment device which sucks air from the atmosphere. The jet of slurry disseminates the entrained air into very fine bubbles after plunging upon the liquid surface. Then, it creates very favourable conditions for collision of bubbles and particles, and their attachment. The particlebubble aggregates move down the downcomer to the cell and float to the top to form the froth. The hydrophilic minerals sink to the bottom and exit as tailings. Tailings recycling is practiced to reduce feed variations to the cell so that the downcomer can operate at a stable feed pressure and flow rate. This helps to ensure steady operation. The downcomer provides an ideal situation for particlebubble contact and minimises the residence time due to rapid kinetics and separate contact zone. Thus, the Jameson cell is of much lower volume compared to equivalent-capacity column or mechanical cells. There is also no requirement for agitators or compressors besides the feed pump.

The dissolved air flotation process takes advantage of the principles described above. Figure 7-104 presents a diagram of a DAF system, complete with chemical coagulation and sludge handling equipment. As shown in Figure 7-104, raw (or pretreated) wastewater receives a dose of a chemical coagulant (metal salt, for instance) and then proceeds to a coagulation-flocculation tank. After coagulation of the target substances, the mixture is conveyed to the flotation tank, where it is released in the presence of recycled effluent that has just been saturated with air under several atmospheres of pressure in the pressurization system shown. An anionic polymer (coagulant aid) is injected into the coagulated wastewater just as it enters the flotation tank.

The recycled effluent is saturated with air under pressure as follows: a suitable centrifugal pump forces a portion of the treated effluent into a pressure holding tank. A valve at the outlet from the pressure holding tank regulates the pressure in the tank, the flow rate through the tank, and the retention time in the tank, simultaneously. An air compressor maintains an appropriate flow of air into the pressure holding tank. Under the pressure in the tank, air from the compressor is diffused into the water to a concentration higher than its saturation value under normal atmospheric pressure. In other words, about 24 ppm of air (nitrogen plus oxygen) can be dissolved in water under normal atmospheric pressure (14.7 psig). At a pressure of six atmospheres, for instance (6 14.7 = about 90 psig), Henry's law would predict that about 6 23, or about 130 ppm, of air can be diffused into the water. In practice, dissolution of air into the water in the pressurized holding tank is less than 100% efficient, and a correction factor, f, which varies between 0.5 and 0.8, is used to calculate the actual concentration.

After being held in the pressure holding tank in the presence of pressurized air, the recycled effluent is released at the bottom of the flotation tank, in close proximity to where the coagulated wastewater is being released. The pressure to which the recycled effluent is subjected has now been reduced to one atmosphere, plus the pressure caused by the depth of water in the flotation tank. Here, the solubility of the air is less, by a factor of slightly less than the number of atmospheres of pressure in the pressurization system, but the quantity of water available for the air to diffuse into has increased by the volume of the recycle stream.

Practically, however, the wastewater will already be saturated with respect to nitrogen, but may have no oxygen, because of biological activity. Therefore, the solubility of air at the bottom of the flotation tank will be about 25 ppm, and the excess air from the pressurized, recycled effluent will precipitate from solution. As this air precipitates in the form of tiny, almost microscopic, bubbles, the bubbles attach to the coagulated solids. The presence of the anionic polymer (coagulant aid), plus the continued action of the coagulant, causes the building of larger solid conglomerates, entrapping many of the adsorbed air bubbles. The net effect is that the solids are floated to the surface of the flotation tank, where they can be collected by some means and thus be removed from the wastewater.

Some DAF systems do not have a pressurized recycle system, but, rather, the entire forward flow on its way to the flotation tank is pressurized. This type of DAF is referred to as direct pressurization and is not widely used for treatment of industrial wastewaters because of undesirable shearing of chemical flocs by the pump and valve.

The behavior of coal in the flotation process is determined not only by a coals natural floatability (hydrophobicity), but also by the acquired floatability resulting from the use of flotation reagents. The general classification of the reagents for coal flotation is shown in Table12.1 (Laskowski, 2001).

The use of liquid hydrocarbons (oils) as collectors in flotation of coal is characteristic for the group of inherently hydrophobic minerals (graphite, sulfur, molybdenite, talc, coals are classified in this group). Since oily collectors are water-insoluble, they must be dispersed in water to form an emulsion. The feature making emulsion flotation different from conventional flotation is the presence of a collector in the form of oil droplets, which must collide with mineral particles in order to enhance the probability of particle- to-bubble attachment. The process is based on selective wetting: the droplets of oil can adhere only to particles that are to some extent hydrophobic. The effect of emulsification on flotation has been studied, and its beneficial effect on flotation is known (Sun et al., 1955).

Coal flotation is commonly carried out with a combination of an oily collector (e.g. fuel oil) and a frother (e.g. MIBC). All coal flotation systems require the addition of a frother to generate small bubbles and to create a stable froth (Table 12.2). Typical addition rates for frothers are in the order of 0.050.3kg of reagent per tonne of coal feed. Depending on the hydrophobic character of the coal particles, an oily collector such as diesel oil or kerosene may or may not be utilized. When required, dosage rates commonly fall in the range of 0.21.0kg of reagent per tonne of coal feed, although dosage levels up to 2kg/t or more have been known to be used for some oxidized coals that are difficult to flotate.

PO stands for propylene oxide (CH2-CH2-CH2-O-), and BO for butylene oxide (CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-O-) Cresylic acids (mixture of cresols and xylenols) that in the past were commonly used in coal flotation are not in use any more because of their toxicity.

PO stands for propylene oxide (CH2-CH2-CH2-O-), and BO for butylene oxide (CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-O-) Cresylic acids (mixture of cresols and xylenols) that in the past were commonly used in coal flotation are not in use any more because of their toxicity.

The beneficial effect of a frother on flotation with an oily collector was demonstrated and explained by Melik-Gaykazian et al. (1967). Frother adsorbs at the oil/water interface, lowers the oil/water interfacial tension and hence improves emulsification. However, frother also adsorbs at the coal/water interface (Frangiskos et al., 1960; Fuerstenau and Pradip, 1982; Miller et al., 1983) and provides anchorage for the oil droplets to the coal surface. Chander et al. (1994), after studying various non-ionic surfactants, concluded that the flotation of coal can be improved in their presence because of the increased number of droplets, which leads to an increase in the number of droplet-to-coal particle collisions. While the use of oily collectors and frothers is the most common, also a group of flotation agents known as promoters have found application in coal flotation. In general, these are strongly surface-active compounds and are mostly used to enhance further emulsification of water-insoluble oily collectors in water.

Because of environmental concerns associated with tailing ponds, the method for disposing of fine refuse from coal preparation plants by underground injection has been gaining wide acceptance. Unfortunately, many common flotation reagents, including diesel oil, are not permitted when fine refuse is injected underground into old mine works. This is the main driving force for finding replacement for the crude-oil based flotation collectors (Skiles, 2003). An alternative to fuel oil may be biodiesel, a product created by the esterification of free fatty acids generally from soy oil, with an alcohol such as methanol, and subsequent transesterification of remaining triglycerides. Water, glycerol and other undesirable by-products are removed, to produce a product that has physical characteristics similar to diesel oil. The use of some vegetable oils was demonstrated to provide equivalent (and even superior) flotation results when compared with diesel fuel (Skiles, 2003). These are the results of commercial scale tests on a circuit that has 4.25m in diameter columns. The product concentrate ash was 13.5%. The consumption of the tested vegetable oil was about two times lower from the consumption of diesel oil in these tests.

It features both proven technology and the latest technical innovations at the same time. This flotation cell is highly efficient when it comes to costs and operation. It can be easily scaled to various production levels without compromising performance. In short, OptiCell Flotation enhances the performance of the deinking line cost efficiently and ensures a reliable flotation process. The heart of the flotation process is the injector. In the OptiCell system, this has beendesigned with special care, using the experiences of earlier flotation technologies, modern computational fluid dynamics calculations, and new image analysis methods. The combination of these approaches results in a unique injector that represents the latest technology. This injector differs from traditional injectors in following respects:

OptiCell flotation by Metso is based on computational fluid dynamics and uses new image analysis methods. It is designed to provide smooth-flow velocities that allow unobstructed transfer of bubbles to the surface of the pulp mixture or froth, which improves the efficiency of ink removal. The aeration injector ensures optimal bubble-size distribution. The injector is designed based on the experiences gained with earlier flotation technologies combined with modern computational fluid dynamics calculations and new image analysis methods.

The linear structure of the flotation cells has a large surface area, which has reject separation and fiber loss. This flotation cell design also contributes to high sludge consistency (less water in the sludge) by ensuring smooth drainage of froth (Aksela,2008). The elliptical shape of the flotation cells in this technology is optimal for internal pulp circulation for improved ink removal. Moreover, the flatness of the cells intensifies the rise of air bubbles within the available volume. The first OptiCell Flotation system started operation in September 2008 at Stora Ensos Maxau mill in Germany, which has an approximately 1000 t/day deinking facility (Metso,2012b). According to Metso, the brightness from the complete flotation system has increased by two units. A brightness gain of 13 units from thick stock to accept was obtained with the OptiCell process. Reject ash content also improved and fiber losses decreased. As a result of the flotation performance and corresponding brightness improvement, peroxide consumption has decreased significantly in bleaching. In addition, the stickies content was reduced significantly. It was the lowest ever measured at the deinking line 1 at Maxau mill. The benefits of OptiCell flotation are summarized in Table11.8 (Aksela,2008; Metso,2012b).

flotation cell - an overview | sciencedirect topics

flotation cell - an overview | sciencedirect topics

The MAC flotation cell was developed by Kadant-Lamort Inc. It can save energy comparedto conventional flotation systems. The MAC flotation cell is mainly used in the flotation section of waste paper deinking pulping, for removal of hydrophobic impurities such as filler, ash,ink particles, etc. It can increase pulp whiteness and meet the requirements of final paper appearance quality. Table11.11 shows the features of MAC flotation cell. Kadants MAC flotation cell deinking system uses air bubbles to float ink particles to the cell surface for removal from the recycled material. The latest generation of the MAC cell deinking system incorporates a patented bubble-washing process to reduce power consumption and also fiber loss. It combines small, new, auto-clean, low-pressure injectors with a flotation cell. The function of injectors is to aerate the stock before it is pumped and sent tangentially to the top of the cell. The air bubbles collect ink particles in the cell and rise up to the top to create a thick foam mat that is evacuated because of the slight pressurization of the cell. The partially deinked stock then goes to a deaeration chamber and is pumped to the next stage. Here, the operation is exactly the same as for the first stage. This stage also has the same number of injectors and same flow (Kadant,2011). This operation is repeated up to five times for a high ink removal rate. Remixing of the air coming from downstream stages of the process helps the upstream stages and improves the overall cell efficiency. Adjustable and selective losses of fiberdepend on the application and technical requirements inks, or inks and fillers. The use of low-pressure injectors in the MAC flotation cell could save about 2530% of the energy used in conventional flotation systems (ECOTARGET,2009). The benefits of the MAC flotation cell are summarized in Table11.12.

Agitated flotation cells are widely used in the mineral processing industry for separating, recovering, and concentrating valuable particulate material from undesired gangue. Their performance is lowered, however, when part of the particulate system consists of fines, with particle diameters typically in the range from 30 to 100m. For example, it was observed difficult to float fine particles because of the reduction of middle particles (of wolframite) as carriers and the poor collision and attachment between fine particles and air bubbles; a new kinetic model was proposed [34].

As an alternative to agitated cells, bubble columnsused in chemical engineering practice as chemical reactorswere proposed for the treatment of fine particle systems. Flotation columns, as they came to be known, were invented back in the 1960s in Canada [35]. The main feature that differentiates the column from the mechanical flotation cell (of Denver type) is wash water, added at the top of the froth. It was thought to be beneficial to overall column performance since it helps clean the froth from any entrained gangue, while at the same time preventing water from the pulp flowing into the concentrate. In this way, it was hoped that certain cleaning flotation stages could be gained.

Let us note that the perhaps insistence here on mineral processing is only due to the fact that most of the available literature on flotation is from this area, where the process was originated and being widely practiced. The effect of particle size on flotation recovery is significant; it was shown that there exists a certain size range in which optimum results may be obtained in mineral processing. This range varies with the mineral properties such as density, liberation, and so on, but was said to be of the order of 10100m [36].

Regulating the oxidation state of pyrite (FeS2) and arsenopyrite (FeAsS), by the addition of an oxidation or reduction chemical agent and due to the application of a short-chain xanthate as collector (such as potassium ethyl xanthate, KEX), was the key to selective separation of the two sulfide minerals, pyrite and arsenopyrite [37]. Strong oxidizing agents can depress previously floated arsenopyrite. Various reagents were examined separately as modifiers and among them were sodium metabisulfite, hydrazinium sulfate, and magnesia mixture. The laboratory experiments were carried out in a modified Hallimond tube, assisted by zeta-potential measurements and, in certain cases, by contact angle measurements.

This conventional bench-scale flotation cell provides a fast, convenient, and low-cost method, based on small samples (around 2g), usually of pure minerals and also artificial mixtures, for determining the general conditions under which minerals may be rendered floatableoften in the absence of a frother (to collect the concentrate in the side tube) [38]. This idea was later further modified in the lab replacing the diaphragm, in order to conduct dissolved air or electroflotation testssee Section 3.

Pyrite concentrates sometimes contain considerable amounts of arsenic. Since they are usually used for the production of sulfuric acid, this is undesirable from the environmental point of view. However, gold is often associated with arsenopyrite, often exhibiting a direct relationship between Au content and As grade. There is, therefore, some scope for concentrating arsenopyrite since the ore itself is otherwise of little value (see Fig.2.2). Note that previous work on pyrites usually concentrated on the problem of floating pyrite [40].

In the aforementioned figure (shown as example), the following conditions were applied: (1) collector [2-coco 2-methyl ammonium chloride] 42mg/L, frother (EtOH) 0.15% (v/v), superficial liquid velocity uL=1.02cm/s, superficial gas velocity uG=0.65cm/s, superficial wash water velocity uw=0.53cm/s; (2) hexadecylamine, 45mg/L; pine oil, 50mg/L; EtOH, 0.025%; uL=0.84cm/s; uG=0.72cm/s; uw=0.66cm/s; (3) Armoflot 43, 50mg/L; pine oil, 50mg/L; EtOH, 0.025%; uL=0.84cm/s; uG=0.71cm/s; uw=0.66cm/s [39]. The pyrite (with a relatively important Au content of 21g/ton) was a xanthate-floated concentrate. The presence of xanthates, however, might cause problems in the subsequent cyanidation of pyrites when recovering their Au value, which perhaps justified the need to find alternative collectors. In general, the amines exhibited a behavior similar to that of the xanthates (O-alkyl dithiocarbonates). The benefit of the amine was in its lower consumption, as compared with the xanthate systems.

The arsenic content of the pyrite was approximately 9% (from an initial 3.5% of the mixed sulfide ore). The material was sieved and the75m fraction was used for the laboratory-scale cylindrical column experiments. The effect on metallurgical characteristics of the flotation concentrate of varying the amount of ferric sulfate added to the pulp was studied; three collectors were used and their performance was compared (in Fig.2.2). Both hexadecylamine and Armoflot 43 (manufactured by Akzo) exhibited an increased recovery but a very low enrichment, whereas 2-coco 2-methyl ammonium chloride (Arquad-2C) showed a considerable enrichment; a compromise had to be made, therefore, between a high-grade and a low recovery.

Electroflotation (electrolytic flotation) is an unconventional separation process owing its name to the bubbles generation method it uses, i.e., electrolysis of the aqueous medium. In the bottom of the microcell, the two horizontal electrodes were made from stainless steel, the upper one being perforated. The current density applied was 300 Am2. It was observed that with lime used to control pH, different behavior was observed (see Fig.2.3). Pyrite, with permanganate (a known depressant) also as modifier, remained activated from pH 5.0 to 8.0at 80% recovery, while it was depressed at the pH range from 9.0 to 12.0. A conditioning of 30min was applied in the presence of modifier alone and further 15min after the addition of xanthate. The pure mineral sample, previously hand collected, crushed, and pulverized in the laboratory, was separated by wet sieving to the45 to+25m particle size range.

Pyrite due to its very heterogeneous surface, consisting of a mosaic of anodic and cathodic areas, presents a strong electrocatalytic activity in the anodic oxidation of xanthate to dixanthogen. It is also possible that the presence of the electric field, during electroflotation, affected the reactions taking place. In order to explain this difference in flotation behavior thermodynamic calculations for the system Fe-EX-H2O have been done [41]. It was concluded that electroflotation was capable of removing fine pyrite particles from a dilute dispersion, under controlled conditions. Nevertheless, dispersed air and electroflotation presented apparent differences for the same application.

The size of the gas bubbles produced was of the order of 50m, in diameter [21]. Similar measurements were later carried out at Newcastle, Australia [42]; where it was also noted that a feature of electroflotation is the ability to create very fine bubbles, which are known to improve flotation performance of fine particles.

In fact, the two electrodes of a horizontal electrodes set, usually applied in electroflotation, could be separated by a cation exchange membrane, as only one of the produced gases is often necessary [43]. In the lower part/separated electrode, an electrolyte was circulated to remove the created gas, and in the meantime, increase the conductivity; hence having power savings (as the electric field is built up between the electrodes through the use of the suspension conductivity). Attention should be paid in this case to anode corrosion, mainly by the chloride ion (i.e., seawater).

Microorganisms have a tremendous influence on their environment through the transfer of energy, charge, and materials across a complex biotic mineralsolution interface; the biomodification of mineral surfaces involves the complex action of microorganism on the mineral surface [44]. Mixed cationic/anionic surfactants are also generating increasing attention as effective collectors during the flotation of valuable minerals (i.e., muscovite, feldspar, and spodumene ores); the depression mechanisms on gangue minerals, such as quartz, were focused [45].

Another design of a flotation cell which applies ultrasound during the flotation process has been developed by Vargas-Hernndez et al. (2002). The design consists of a Denver cell (Koh and Schwarz, 2006) equipped with ultrasonic capabilities of performing ultrasound-assisted flotation experiments. This cell is universally accepted as a standard cell for laboratory flotation experiments. In Figure 35.25, a schematic of the Denver cell equipped with two power transducers is shown operating at 20kHz. The ultrasonic transducers are in acoustic contact with the body of the flotation cell but are not immersed in the same cell. Instead, they are submerged in distilled water and in a thin membrane that separates the radiant head of the transducer from the chamber body. The floatation chamber has a capacity of 2.7l and is also equipped with conventional systems to introduce air and mechanical agitation able to maintain the suspension of metallurgical pulp. In the upper part of the cell there is an area in which the foam is recovered for analysis by a process called skimming. The block diagram of Figure 35.25 further shows that the experimental system was developed to do ultrasonic-assisted flotation experiments. The transducers operate at 20kHz and can handle power up to 400W. In the Denver cell an acoustic probe, calibrated through a nonlinear system and capable of measuring high-intensity acoustic fields, is placed (Gaete-Garretn et al., 1993, 1998). This is done in order to determine the different acoustic field intensities with a spatial scanner during the experimentation. Figure 35.26 shows the distribution of ultrasonic field intensity obtained by a spatial scanner in the central area of the flotation chamber. The Denver cell with ultrasonic capabilities, as described, is shown in Figure 35.27. The obtained results were fairly positive. For example, for fine particle recovery it worked with metallurgical pulp under 325mesh, indicating floating particles of less than 45m, and the recovery curves are almost identical to those of an appropriate size mineral for flotation. This is shown in Figure 35.28, where a comparison between typical copper recovery curves for fine and normal particles is presented. The most interesting part of the flotation curves is the increase in recovery of molybdenum with ultrasonic power, as shown in Figure 35.29. The increase in recovery of iron is not good news for copper mines because the more iron floating the lower grade of recovery. This may be because the iron becomes more hydrophobic with ultrasonic action. According to the experts, this situation could be remedied by looking for specific additives to avoid this effect. Flotation kinetics shown in Figure 35.30 with 5 and 10W of acoustic power applied also show an excellent performance. It should be noted that the acoustic powers used to vary the flotation kinetics have been quite low and could clearly be expanded.

Figure 35.28. Compared recovering percent versus applied power in an ultrasonic-assisted flotation process in a Denver cell: (a) fine and ultrafine particles recovering and (b) normal particles recovering.

These experiments confirm the potential of power ultrasound in flotation. Research on assisted flotation with power ultrasound has been also carried out by Ozkan (2002), who has conducted experiments by pretreating pulp with ultrasound during flotation. Ozkhans objective was to recover magnesite from magnesite silts with particles smaller than 38m. Their results show that under ultrasonic fields the flotation foam bubbles are smaller, improving magnesite recovery rates. When Ozkhan treated magnesite mineral with a conventional treatment the beneficial effect of ultrasound was only manifested for mineral pretreatment. The flotation performed under ultrasonic field did not show improvement. This was because power ultrasound improves the buoyancy of clay iron and this has the effect of lowering the recovery of magnesite.

Kyllnen et al. (2004) employed a cell similar to Jordan to float heavy metals from contaminated soils in a continuous process. In their experiments they obtained a high recovery of heavy metals, improving the soil treatment process. Alp et al. (2004) have employed ultrasonic waves in the flotation of tincal minerals (borax Na O710 B4 H2O), finding the same effects as described above, i.e., that power ultrasound helps in the depression of clay. However, the beneficial effect of ultrasound is weakened when working with pulps with high mineral concentration (high density), probably due to an increase in the attenuation of the ultrasonic field. Safak and Halit (2006) investigated the action mechanisms of ultrasound under different flotation conditions. A cleaning effect on the floating particles was attributed to the ultrasonic energy, making the particles more reactive to the additives put in the metallurgical pulp. Furthermore due to the fact that the solid liquid interface is weaker than the cohesive forces of the metallurgic pulp liquids, it results in a medium favorable to creation of cavitation bubbles. The unstable conditions of a cavitation environment can produce changes in the collectors and even form emulsions when entering the surfactant additives. In general, many good properties are attributed to the application of ultrasound in flotation. For example, there is a more uniform distribution of the additives (reagents) and an increase in their activity. In fact in the case of carbon flotation it has been found that the floating times are shortened by the action of ultrasound, the bubble sizes are more stable, and the consumption of the reagents is drastically lowered.

Abrego Lpez (2006) studied a water recovery process of sludge from industrial plants. For this purpose he employed a flotation cell assisted by power ultrasound. In the first stage he made a flotation to recover heavy metals in the metallurgical pulp, obtaining a high level of recovery. In the second stage he added eucalyptus wood cones to the metallurgical pulp to act as an accumulator of copper, lead, nickel, iron, and aluminum. The author patented the method, claiming that it obtained an excellent recovery of all elements needing to be extracted. zkan and Kuyumcu (2007) showed some design principles for experimental flotation cells, proposing to equip a Denver flotation cell with four power transducers. Tests performed with this equipment consisted of evaluating the possible effects that high-intensity ultrasonic fields generated in the cell may have on the flotation. The author provides three-dimensional curves of ultrasonic cavitation fields in a Denver cell filled with water at frequencies between 25 and 40kHz. A warming effect was found, as expected. However, he states that this effect does not disturb the carbon recovery processes because carbon flotation rarely exceeds 5min. They also found that the pH of tap water increases with the power and time of application of ultrasound, while the pH of the carbonwaterreagentsludge mixture decreases. The conductivity of the metallurgical pulp grows with the power and time of application of ultrasound, but this does not affect flotation. The carbon quality obtained does not fall due to the application of ultrasound and the consumption of lowered reagents. They did not find an influence from the ultrasound frequency used in the process, between 25 and 40kHz. They affirmed that ultrasound is beneficial at all stages of concentration.

Kang et al. (2009) studied the effects of preconditioning of carbon mineral pulp in nature by ultrasound with a lot of sulfur content. They found that the nascent oxygen caused by cavitation produces pyrite over oxidation, lowering its hydrophobicity, with the same effect on the change of pH induced by ultrasonic treatment. Additionally, ultrasound decreases the liquid gas interfacial tension by increasing the number of bubbles. Similar effects occur in carbon particles. The perfect flotation index increases 25% with ultrasonic treatment. Kang et al. (2008) continued their efforts to understand the mechanism that causes effects in ultrasonic flotation, analyzing the floating particles under an ultrasonic field by different techniques like X-ray diffraction, electron microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy techniques. In carbon flotation it is estimated that ultrasonic preconditioning may contribute to desulfurization and ash removal (deashing) in carbon minerals. Zhou et al. (2009) have investigated the role of cavitation bubbles created by hydrodynamic cavitation in a flotation process, finding similar results to those reported for ultrasonic cavitation flotation. Finally, Ozkan (2012) has conducted flotation experiments with the presence of hard carbon sludge cavitation (slimes), encountering many of the effects that have been reported for the case of metallurgical pulp with ultrasound pretreatment. This includes improved flotation, drastic reduction in reagent consumption, and the possible prevention of oxidation of the surface of carbon sludge. A decrease in the ash content in floating carbon was not detected. However, tailings do not seem to contain carbon particles. All these effects can be attributed to acoustic cavitation. However, according to the author, there is a need to examine the contribution of ultrasound to the probability of particlebubble collision and the likelihood of getting the bubbles to connect to the particles. The latter effects have been proposed as causes for improvements in flotation processes in many of the publications reviewed, but there is no systematic study of this aspect.

In summary, power ultrasound assistance with flotation processes shows promising results in all versions of this technique, including conditioning metallurgical pulp before floating it, assisting the continuous flotation process, and improving the yields in conventional flotation cells. The results of ultrasonic floating invariably show a better selectivity and an increase, sometimes considerable, in the recovery of fine particles. Paradoxically, in many experiments an increase has been recorded in recovering particles suitable for normal flotation. These facts show the need for further research in the flotation process in almost all cases, with the exception perhaps of carbon flotation. For this last case, in light of the existing data the research should be directed toward scale-up of the technology.

The concentrate obtained from a batch flotation cell changes in character with time as the particles floating change in size, grade and quantity. In the same way, the concentrate from the last few cells in a continuous bank is different from that removed from the earlier cells. Particles of the same mineral float at different rates due to different particle characteristics and cell conditions.

The recovery of any particular mineral rises to an asymptotic value R which is generally less than 100%. The rate of recovery at time t is given by the slope of the tangent to the curve at t, and the rate of recovery at time t1 is clearly greater than the rate at time t2. There is a direct relationship between the rate of flotation and the amount of floatable material remaining in the cell, that is:

The process is carried out in a flotation cell or tank, of which there are two basic types, mechanical and pneumatic. Within each of these categories, there are two subtypes, those that operate as a single cell, and those that are operated as a series or bank of cells. A bank of cells (Fig. 8) is preferred because this makes the overall residence times more uniform (i.e., more like plug flow), rather than the highly diverse residence times that occur in a single (perfectly mixed) tank.

FIGURE 8. Flotation section of a 80,000t/d concentrating plant, showing the arrangement of the flotation cells into banks. A small part of the grinding section can be seen through the gap in the wall. [Courtesy Joy Manufacturing Co.]

The purpose of the flotation cell is to attach hydrophobic particles to air bubbles, so that they can float to the surface, form a froth, and can be removed. To do this, a flotation machine must maintain the particles in suspension, generate and disperse air bubbles, promote bubbleparticle collision, minimize bypass and dead spaces, minimize mechanical passage of particles to the froth, and have sufficient froth depth to allow nonhydrophobic (hydrophilic) particles to return to the suspension.

Pneumatic cells have no mechanical components in the cell. Agitation is generally by the inflow of air and/or slurry, and air bubbles are usually introduced by an injector. Until comparatively recently, their use was very restricted. However, the development of column flotation has seen a resurgence of this type of cell in a wider, but still restricted, range of applications. While the total volume of cell is still of the same order as that of a conventional mechanical cell, the floor space and energy requirements are substantially reduced. But the main advantage is that the cell provides superior countercurrent flow to that obtained in a traditional circuit (see Fig. 11), and so they are now often used as cleaning units.

Mechanical cells usually consist of long troughs with a series of mechanisms. Although the design details of the mechanisms vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, all consist of an impeller that rotates within baffles. Air is drawn or pumped down a central shaft and is dispersed by the impeller. Cells also vary in profile, degree of baffling, the extent of walling between mechanisms, and the discharge of froth from the top of the cell.

Selection of equipment is based on performance (represented by grade and recovery), capacity (metric tons per hour per cubic meter); costs (including capital, power, maintenance), and subjective factors.

Among all processing industries, only in the ore and mining industries is the accent more on wear resistance than corrosion. In mining industries, the process concerns material handling more than any physical or chemical conversions that take place during the refining operations. For example, in the excavation process of iron ore, conventional conveyer systems and sophisticated fluidized systems are both used [16,17]. In all these industries, cost and safety are the governing factors. In a fluidized system, the particles are transported as slurry using screw pumps through large pipes. These pipes and connected fittings are subjected to constant wear by the slurry containing hard minerals. Sometimes, depending on the accessibility of the mineral source, elaborate piping systems will be laid. As a high-output industry any disruption in the work will result in heavy budgetary deficiency. Antiabrasive rubber linings greatly enhance the life of equipment and reduce the maintenance cost. The scope for antiabrasive rubber lining is tremendous and the demand is ever increasing in these industries.

Different rubber compounds are used in the manufacture of flotation cell rubber components for various corrosion and abrasion duty conditions. Flotation as applied to mineral processing is a process of concentration of finely divided ores in which the valuable and worthless minerals are completely separated from each other. Concentration takes place from the adhesion of some species of solids to air bubbles and wetting of the other series of solids by water. The solids adhering to air bubbles float on the surface of the pulp because of a decrease in effective density caused by such adhesion, whereas those solids that are wetted by water in the pulp remain separated in the pulp. This method is probably the more widely used separation technique in the processing of ores. It is extensively used in the copper, zinc, nickel, cobalt, and molybdenum sections of the mineral treatment industry and is used to a lesser extent in gold and iron production. The various rubber compounds used in the lining of flotation cells and in the manufacture of their components for corrosive and abrasive duties are:

Operating above the maximum capacity can cause the performance of flotation cells to be poor even when adequate slurry residence time is available (Lynch et al., 1981). For example, Fig. 11.21 shows the impact of increasing volumetric feed flow rate on cell performance (Luttrell et al., 1999). The test data obtained at 2% solids correlates well with the theoretical performance curve predicted using a mixed reactor model (Levenspiel, 1972). Under this loading, coal recovery steadily decreased as feed rate increased due to a reduction in residence time. However, as the solids content was increased to 10% solids, the recovery dropped sharply and deviated substantially from the theoretical curve due to froth overloading. This problem can be particularly severe in coal flotation due to the high concentration of fast floating solids in the flotation feed and the presence of large particles in the flotation froth. Flotation columns are particularly sensitive to froth loading due to the small specific surface area (ratio of cross-sectional area to volume) for these units.

Theoretical studies indicate that loading capacity (i.e., carrying capacity) of the froth, which is normally reported in terms of the rate of dry solids floated per unit cross-sectional area, is strongly dependent on the size of particles in the froth (Sastri, 1996). Studies and extensive test work conducted by Eriez personnel also support this finding. As seen in Fig. 11.22, a direct correlation exists between capacity and both the mean size (d50) and ultrafines content of the flotation feedstock. The true loading capacity may be estimated from laboratory and pilot-scale flotation tests by conducting experiments as a function of feed solids content (Finch and Dobby, 1990). Field surveys indicate that conventional flotation machines can be operated with loading capacities of up to 1.52.0t/h/m2 for finer (0.150mm) feeds and 56t/h/m2 or more for coarser (0.600mm) feeds. Most of the full-scale columns in the coal industry operate at froth loading capacities less than 1.5t/h/m2 for material finer than 0.150mm and as high as 3.0t/h/m2 for flotation feed having a top size of 0.300mm feeds.

Froth handling is a major problem in coal flotation. Concentrates containing large amounts of ultrafine (<0.045mm) coal generally become excessively stable, creating serious problems related to backup in launders and downstream handling. Bethell and Luttrell (2005) demonstrated that coarser deslime froths readily collapsed, but finer froths had the tendency to remain stable for an indefinite period of time. Attempts made to overcome this problem by selecting weaker frothers or reducing frother dosage have not been successful and have generally led to lower circuit recoveries. Therefore, several circuit modifications have been adopted by the coal industry to deal with the froth stability problem. For example, froth launders need to be considerably oversized with steep slopes to reduce backup. Adequate vertical head must also be provided between the launder and downstream dewatering operations. In addition, piping and chute work must be designed such that the air can escape as the froth travels from the flotation circuit to the next unit operation.

Figure 11.23 shows how small changes in piping arrangements can result in better process performance. Shown in Fig. 11.23 is a column whose performance suffered due to the inability to move the froth product from the column launder although a large discharge nozzle (11m) had been provided. In this example, the froth built up in the launder and overflowed when the operators increased air rates. To prevent this problem, the air rates were lowered, which resulted in less than optimum coal recovery. It was determined that the downstream discharge piping was air-locking and preventing the launders from properly draining. The piping was replaced with larger chute work that allowed the froth to flow freely and the air to escape. As a result, higher aeration rates were possible and recoveries were significantly improved.

Some installations have resorted to using defoaming agents or high-pressure launder sprays to deal with froth stability. However, newer column installations eliminate this problem by including large de-aeration tanks to allow time for the froth to collapse (Fig. 11.24a). Special provisions may also be required to ensure that downstream dewatering units can accept the large froth volumes. For example, standard screen-bowl centrifuges equipped with 100mm inlets may need to be retrofitted with 200mm or larger inlets to minimize flow restrictions. In addition, while the use of screen-bowl centrifuges provides low product moistures, there are typically fine coal losses, as a large portion of the float product finer than 0.045mm is lost as main effluent. This material is highly hydrophobic and will typically accumulate on top of the thickener as a very stable froth layer, which increases the probability that the process water quality will become contaminated (i.e., black water).

This phenomenon is more prevalent in by-zero circuits, especially when the screen-bowl screen effluent is recycled back through the flotation circuit, either directly or through convoluted plant circuitry. Reintroducing material that has already been floated to the flotation circuit can result in a circulating load of very fine and highly floatable material. As a result, the capacity of the flotation equipment can be significantly reduced, which results in losses of valuable coal. Most installations will combat this by ensuring that the screen-bowl screen effluent is routed directly back to the screen bowl so that it does not return to the flotation circuit. The accumulation of froth on the thickener, which tends to be especially problematic in by-zero circuitry, is also reduced by utilizing reverse-weirs and taller center wells, as this approach helps to limit the amount of froth that can enter into the process water supply. Froth that does form on top of the clarifier can be eliminated by employing a floating boom that is placed directly in the thickener (Fig. 11.24b) and used in conjunction with water sprays. The floating boom can be constructed out of inexpensive PVC piping, and is typically attached to the rotating rakes. The boom floats on the water interface and drags any froth around to the walkway that extends over the thickener, where it is eliminated by the sprays.

Column cells have been developed over the past 30 years as an alternative to mechanically agitated flotation cells. The major operating difference between column and mechanical cells is the lack of agitation in column cells that reduces energy and maintenance costs. Also, it has been reported that the cost of installing a column flotation circuit is approximately 2540% less than an equivalent mechanical flotation circuit (Murdock et al., 1991). Improved metallurgical performance of column cells in iron ore flotation is reported and attributed to froth washing, which reduces the loss of fine iron minerals entrained into the froth phase (Dobby, 2002).

The Brazilian iron ore industry has embraced the use of column flotation cells for reducing the silica content of iron concentrates. Several companies, including Samarco Minerao S.A., Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CRVD), Companhia Siderrgica Nacional (CSN), and Mineraes Brasileiras (MBR), are using column cells at present (Peres et al., 2007). Samarco Minerao, the first Brazilian producer to use column cells, installed column cells as part of a plant expansion program in the early 1990s (Viana et al., 1991). Pilot plant tests showed that utilization of a column recleaner circuit led to a 4% increase in iron recovery in the direct reduction concentrate and an increase in primary mill capacity when compared to a conventional mechanical circuit.

There are also some negative reports of the use of column cells in the literature. According to Dobby (2002), there were several failures in the application of column cells in the iron ore industry primarily due to issues related to scale-up. At CVRD's Samitri concentrator, after three column flotation stages, namely, rougher, cleaner, and recleaner, a secondary circuit of mechanical cells was still required to produce the final concentrate.

Imhof et al. (2005) detailed the use of pneumatic flotation cells to treat a magnetic separation stream of a magnetite ore by reverse flotation to reduce the silica content of the concentrate to below 1.5%. From laboratory testing, they claimed that the pneumatic cells performed better than either conventional mechanical cells or column cells. The pneumatic cells have successfully been implemented at the Compaia Minera Huasco's iron ore pellet plant.

This chapter presents a novel approach to establish the relationship between collector properties and the flotation behavior of goal in various flotation cells. Coal flotation selectivity can be improved if collector selection is primarily based on information obtained from prior contact angle and zeta potential measurements. In a study described in the chapter, this approach was applied to develop specific collectors for particular coals. A good correlation was obtained between laboratory batches and large-scale conventional flotation cells. This is not the case when these results are correlated with pneumatic cell trial data. The study described in the chapter was aimed at identifying reasons for the noncorrelation. Two collectors having different chemical compositions were selected for this investigation. A considerable reduction in coal recovery occurred at lower rotor speeds when comparing results of oxidized and virgin coal. The degree to which a collector enhances flocculation in both medium- and low-shear applications and also the stronger bubble-coal particle adherence required for high-shear cells must, therefore, all be taken into consideration when formulating a collector for coal flotation.

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