Frother controlled interfacial phenomena in dynamic systems - a holistic approach

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School of Chemical Technology | Doctoral thesis (article-based) | Defence date: 2014-11-26
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88 + app. 61
Aalto University publication series DOCTORAL DISSERTATIONS, 161/2014
The development of froth flotation has revolutionized the mining industry and greatly increased the mineral production. Flotation reagents are widely applied to control the properties of minerals and bubbles in order to enhance the efficiency of froth flotation. Frothers are one of the flotation reagents employed to improve the performance of the process. The presence of frother molecules aids to reduce bubble size and rise velocity, and enhance froth stability. Although the effect of flotation frothers on bubble size is well known, the mechanism leading to the decrease in bubble size is not clearly understood. In the present work, the effects of flotation frothers on bubble properties were examined in turbulent conditions. A new experimental framework was developed in order to understand the dynamic macro (> 10exp-2 m)-, meso (10exp-5 to 10exp-2 m)- and micro/nano (< 10exp-5 m)- scale phenomena affecting the bubble size in turbulent conditions. The new approach was aimed to explore the chain reaction triggered by the adsorption of surface-active agents, acting along the different size-scales and eventuating in decrease in bubble size. To accomplish the aim, each and every size-scale was investigated in great detail and the results were correlated to each other. The micro/nano-scale phenomena affecting the bubble properties were investigated applying extensive dynamic surface property study such as dynamic surface tension, dynamic surface elasticity and adsorption/desorption rates. The meso-scale properties of bubbles (e.g. bubble rising velocity, bubble coalescence and breakup) were examined using newly designed experimental set-ups. The industrial or macro-scale properties of air bubbles were studied employing McGill Bubble Viewer. A series of common commercial frothers (DF200, NF240 and DF250) and two reagent grades (Pentanol and Polypropylene Glycol) were used during the study. The main result of this work is a comprehensive, so far unavailable picture of the dynamics of surface-active molecules affecting bubble size in the presence of random momentum transfer. The adsorbed molecules diminish the tension at the air/liquid interface and increase its surface elasticity leading to a lower bubble rise velocity and modified coalescence and breakup properties that eventuate in smaller bubble size. The adsorption of weakly surface-active DF200 and Pentanol cause a different change in the properties of the air/liquid interface compared to the strongly surface-active DF250 and Polypropylene Glycol, leading to differences in size-scale properties and eventually in bubble size. The results help to understand the mechanism of flotation frothers and can provide information on possibilities to achieve better performance in mineral flotation by finding the most suitable surfactants for the particular process.
Supervising professor
Heiskanen, Kari, Prof. Dr., Aalto University, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Finland
Thesis advisor
Schreithofer, Nóra, Dr., Aalto University, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Finland
flotation frothers, turbulent condition, bubble size, dynamic surface properties
Other note
  • [Publication 1]: Jávor, Z., Schreithofer, N., Heiskanen, K. (2010) Fast adsorption phenomena at air/liquid interfaces. XXV International Mineral Processing Congress, Brisbane, Australia, pp. 2015-2023.
  • [Publication 2]: Jávor, Z., Schreithofer, N., Heiskanen, K. (2012) The effect of bubble release techniques on their behaviour at the initial stages of rise. Minerals Engineering 36-38, pp. 254-261.
    DOI: 10.1016/j.mineng.2012.04.010. View at publisher
  • [Publication 3]: Jávor, Z., Schreithofer, N., Heiskanen, K. (2014) Validity of critical coalescence concentration in dynamic conditions. International Journal of Mineral Processing 127, pp. 16-22.
    DOI: 10.1016/j.minpro.2013.12.005. View at publisher
  • [Publication 4]: Jávor, Z., Schreithofer, N., Heiskanen, K. (2015) Micro- and nano-scale phenomena effect on bubble size in mechanical flotation cell. Minerals Engineering 70, pp. 109-118.
    DOI: 10.1016/j.mineng.2014.09.010. View at publisher
  • [Publication 5]: Jávor, Z., Schreithofer, N., Gomez, C.O., Finch, J.A., Heiskanen, K. (2014) Bubble breakup as a factor determining the bubble size. Submitted in International Journal of Mineral Processing.