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Original Title: Flotation Fine Particles

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5, 1998

Practical experience in flotation and many special studies have demonstrated that the flotability of materials depends

on the particle size. Serious difficulties are encountered in the extraction of particles smaller than 0.02 mm, and even more

so with particles smaller than 0.01 mm. Such fine particles account for almost all of the metal that is lost to the tailings dump;

also, these particles raise the level of contamination of the concentrates with associated materials.

The low efficiency of flotation of such particles is due primarily to the low probability of their collision with air

bubbles; another factor is the disruption of the balance of hydrodynamic and surface forces acting on fine particles, lowering

the selectivity of the process.

In a number of studies, relationships have been obtained between the flotability of fine and ultrafine particles and the

size of the air bubbles [1-3]. It has been found that the extraction of particles is increased significantly as the air bubble

diameter is reduced. Hence it is of interest to obtain some sort of mathematical model for the process of flotation of ultrafine

particles by air bubbles no larger than 0.08 mm.

N. N. Kolmogorov [4] obtained equations for the radius of a bubble formed in a turbulent flow and for a bubble formed

at the wall.

where L is the dimension of the large-scale pulsations of the turbulent flow; Kf is a numerical coefficient; V is the flow

velocity; cr is the surface tension; % is the magnitude of the boundary layer; p and Pl are the respective densities of the air

and the liquid.

It can be seen from (1) and (2) that an effective dispersion process requires a high-velocity turbulent flow with strongly

developed small-scale pulsations.

In an actual flotation process, the air consumption Qa ~ Qp, the bubble dispersion must be sequential in turbulent flows

with a varying form, in which the velocities and the pulsation dimension are variables.

A method and a dispersing device for obtaining air bubbles smaller than 0.08 mm were described in [5]. The method

is based on successive breakup of bubbles in turbulent flows: a) In a pipe; b) in a pipe with flow around a cylinder; c) in a

plane turbulent jet successively striking a solid wall. In this last case, the jet velocity is increased in each successive impact.

Mining Institute, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk. Translated from Fiziko-

Tekhnicheskie Problemy Razrabotki Poleznykh Iskopaemykh, No. 5, pp. 114-119, September-October, 1998. Original article

submitted May 12, 1998.

2. Coagulation of Ultrafine Particles with Air Bubbles in a Turbulent Flow in the Course of Flotation

It is fully evident that the probability of collision of ultrafine particles and intergrowths with 1.0-2.0 mm bubbles is

negligibly small. Moreover, air bubbles of this size are unaffected by small-scale pulsations of the flow; and in relation to

ultrafine particles, the bubbles as an immobile solid body. A different mechanism is necessary for coagulation of the bubbles

with the particles.

According to [6], air bubbles smaller than 0.08 mm have the property of being involved with pulsations smaller than

the bubble dimension, these pulsations playing a primary role in the mechanism of particle/bubble encounter. Then, the process

of particle coagulation with a bubble is described by the equation of turbulent diffusion [7, 6]:

0C

0t + V(grad C) = div(D grad C) - N. C, (3)

N R.v. Re 3/2

,~3 . Co~ (4)

Pulsating motion of the particles and bubbles can be described by a certain turbulence coefficient Dturb characterizing

the transport of mass by a chaotic turbulent motion D = v0,/~) 2, where ~, is the dimension of the small-scale flow pulsation;

r/is the distance between particles; v is the liquid viscosity; R is the bubble dimension.

Let us examine the simplest form of turbulent flow of a liquid in a pipe with circular or rectangular cross section.

Assuming that the particle/bubble coagulation process is steady-state with respect to time, and as a consequence of the small

concentration gradient with respect to y, we fred that the equation describing the particle/bubble coagulation process in a flow

with a rectangular cross section and constant velocity will assume the form

C=C o at x = 0 .

(6)

C---~0 at x.---~oo.

We will take the turbulent diffusion coefficient in the form of the function D x = a/(x + 1)D0, where DO is the

coefficient of turbulent diffusion in the initial section of the channel; c~ is a coefficient accounting for particle shape and

properties and the reagent quantity and quality.

The general solution of Eq. (5) with boundary conditions (6) is

(7)

l u R3vRe 3/2 )

~(x)= + xj/3_ u x,;2,

ado L2 aDo

where L is the dimension of the flow pulsations. It can be seen from Eq. (7) that with increasing flow velocity and increasing

coordinate x, the particle concentration decreases exponentially.

3. Determination of Detachment Forces Acting on a Particle Adhering to an Air Bubble in a Liquid Flow

Let us examine a bubble and attached particles in a turbulent liquid flow. Stability of the bubble/particle aggregate,

the same as in any thermodynamic system, corresponds to the maximum of its potential energy. The probability of existence

of an aggregate is determined by the ratio of forces acting upon it (2):

467

TABLE 1

Product iYield, %1 Content, % Recovery, % Degree of Selectivity

[ [ Pb I Zn [ Cu Pb [ Zn [ Cu enrichment ,index

First series of experiments

Feed 100,0 1.6 4,5 25,9 100 100 100

Concentrate 4,9 5,7 8.4 2 4 , 0 19,7 9,3 4,6 3,5 2,26

Chamber

product 95.1 1,2 4,3 2 6 , 0 80,3 9 0 , 7 95,4

Second series of experiments

Feed 100.0 3,4 3,6 25,6 100 100 100

Concentrate 5.4 17,8 8,6 16,7 28,1 13,0 3,5

Chamber:

product 94,6 2,6 3,3 26,1 7 1 , 9 8 7 , 0 96,5 5,18 3,26

TABLE 2

MFP-30M Laboratory

Class flotation FMR-10

First series Second series

of expts, of expts. machine

+0,44 18,6 35,2 7,8 6,5

-0,044 + 0,022 14,0 28,4 7,2 6,02

-0,022 + 0,011 12,7 22,3 5,6 3,49

-0,011 + 0,005 6,4 8,1 4,5 3,20

-0,005 3,1 3,6 2,4 2,07

Total 3,5 5,18 2,98 2,12

1.2

2errat_g sinO=rcr3q(po--Po)+rc--ffCrl.g +Fd~t ; (8)

1

Fdet = ~- K/ p U02 So, (9)

where Kf is the drag coefficient; so is the cross-sectional area of a sphere with a radius equal to that of a sphere having a

volume equal to the sum of the bubble and particle volumes; u 0 is the relative velocity of the aggregate; r and R are the

dimensions of the particle and bubble; at_g is the surface tension at the liquid/gas boundary; 0 is the angle formed by the

liquid/gas interface with the horizontal at the contact perimeter.

In [2], on the basis of an analysis of Eqs. (8) and (9), it was shown that air bubbles with a size similar to the particle

size have higher selectivities in comparison with bubbles of the size normally used in flotation.

Thus, for effective flotation of ultrafine particles and intergrowths, it is necessary to obtain a spectrum of air bubbles

in which the overwhelming majority of the bubbles have dimensions in the 0.03-0.05 nun interval. Of course, along with the

bubble size, the flow regime is important.

It is evident that for each type of flotated particles, the form and parameters of the flow must be determined.

The flotation process proceeds in the following manner: "Fine" air bubbles collide with particles, and an aggregate

is formed; if the aggregate is stable, then it is obvious that the coagulation process will proceed very rapidly. Among

themselves, bubble/particle aggregates begin to merge, forming stable floccules. These are captured by the larger bubbles (0.6-

1.0 mm) and carried out into the froth layer.

Thus, we are proposing a mathematical model of the process of flotation of ultraf'me and fine particles and intergrowths

by air bubbles smaller than 0.08 m m . To the system of equations (1)-(3) and (8), equations are added to describe the liquid

flow in a specific flotation chamber.

From the above discussion, it follows that for effective flotation of ultraf'me particles, a completely different type of

flotation machine is required.

Using the proposed model of the process, a single-chamber pneumohydraulic flotation machine has been developed

at the Mining Institute of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences; also, the form of the turbulent flows and

their parameters that are required for effective flotation of fine particles have been determined.

468

TABLE 3

Size class

yi•eld•

1% 1%. %

Concentrate Zn reco- Degree of I Chamber product

ntent, yield, Zncontent;Ivery, % enrichmeni' yield, Zn content,

% % ~o

First series of ex ~eriments

+0,063 14 0,57 29,5 1,91 71,0 3,35 11,5 0,21

-0,063+0,045 8,3 0.21 6,1 0,66 2~,3 3,14 I 1,0 0,16

-0,045+0,032 11.3 0,32 9,0 0,53 26,4 1,66 15,4 0,20

-0,032+0,020 26,5 0,21 32,8 0,48 41,0 2,3 28,1 0,25

-0,020 40 0,40 22,8 0,60 19,0 1,65 34,0 0,36

Total 100,0 0,30 100,0 0,70 31,0 1,9 100,0 0,26

Seconl series of ex: ~eriments

+0,063 14,7 0,59 16,3 3,24 75,5 5,5 12,1 0,21

-0,063+0.045 8.3 0,20 7,8 0,72 58,8 3,6 9,6 0,09

-0,045+0,032 13,0 0,35 12,8 1,82 62,0 5,2 13,3 0,14

-0,032+0,020 15,7 0,19 22,1 0,87 55,0 4,7 29,7 o, 11

-0,020 40,0 0,38 42,1 3,83 66,1 10,1 35.5 0,14

Total 100,0 0,31 100,0 2,1 62,0 6,6 100,0 0,13

An experimental model of the flotation machine MFP-30M with a capacity up to 1 m3/h was installed in an ore-

dressing plant of the Zyryanovskii Lead Combine in a scheme for selection of c o p p e r - l e a d concentrate after the second

control flotation [8]. It should be noted that 91% of the lead was concentrated in the class - 0 . 0 1 1 mm, with 75% of the total

lead in the class - 0 . 0 0 5 mm; it is known that such material is extremely difficult to upgrade.

The flotation experiments were performed in two stages. In the first stage, the operating conditions of the disperser

were such that in the spectrum of air bubbles, the averaged dimension of the small bubbles was 0.12 mm; in the second stage,

this was reduced to 0.08 mm.

It can be seen from Table 1 that the technological indexes of flotation were considerably better in the second series

of experiments than in the first.

In Table 2 we show the relationship between the degree of enrichment and particle size for two series of experiments

in the MFP-30M, a laboratory mechanical machine, and an FMR-10 flotation machine.

It can be seen from Table 2 that the degree of enrichment in flotation in the MFP-30M is almost 30 units greater for

the +0.044 class than in the FMR-10; as the particle size is reduced, this difference decreases, amounting to 1.2 for particles

in the - 0 . 0 0 5 m m class. These data provide firm confirmation of the selectivity of the small bubbles.

There is great interest in the flotation of hatergrowths with a degree of surface exposure greater than 15 %. In order

to test the hypothesis that have been advanced, we performed experiments on the flotation of intergrowths. A modernized

pneumatic flotation machine MFP-0.01, equipped with two pneumohydraulic dispersers, was installed in the Berezovskii

Oredressing Plant of the Irtysh Polymetal Combine. The feed came from the tailings dump of a flotation repartitioning process,

as the chamber product from a control zinc flotation. Mineralogical analysis of the feed to the flotation machine showed that

in the - 0 . 0 6 0 + 0 . 0 4 4 m m class, more than 70% of the sphalerite was present in intergrowths, with about 30% in the

- 0 . 0 4 4 + 0 . 0 2 0 m m class. Thus, the zinc in this material is concentrated mainly in the fine classes or in intergrowths. It was

difficult to carry out the finish-flotation of zinc from these classes under the plant conditions in mechanical type flotation

machines.

In the course of testing the experimental flotation machine, two series of experiments were performed. In the first

series, the jet velocities in the preliminary and main dispersers were fairly low, and hence no more than 15-20% of the air

bubbles were smaller than 0.08 mm. As a result, the technological indexes of flotation were comparatively low (Table 3).

In the second series of experiments, the jet velocities were increased in both dispersers, giving a substantial change

in the spectrum of air bubbles; also changed was the hydroaerodynamic regime of the flows moving in the flotation chamber.

The flotation indexes in the second series of experiments were incomparably better than in the first (Table 3). This difference

is particularly evident in the flotation results obtained on the - 0 . 0 2 0 mm class particles. As indicated above, it is precisely

in the +0.020 m m class that all of the intergrowths are concentrated; this provides an explanation for the lower technological

indexes of flotation of these particles in comparison with the - 0 . 0 2 0 mm class.

469

The results from these and subsequent studies performed in experimental-commercial flotation machines of the MFP

type, under actual plant conditions, have repeatedly confirmed the possibility that extremely small bubbles will flotate fine

particles effectively.

Similar results on such a class of particles were obtained in the flotation of tailings dump material from nickel flotation

at the Norilsk Oredressing Plant.

Thus, effective flotation of ultrafine particles and intergrowths depends on having air bubbles with a spectrum in which

the overwhelming majority consists of 0.03-0.05 mm bubbles; it also depends on having hydroaerodynamic flows in the volume

of the flotation chamber such that the probability of particle/bubble collision will be sufficiently high, while at the same time

the force of particle detachment from the bubble is optimal for each material being processed by flotation.

REFERENCES

by flotation with small bubbles," Tsvetn. Met., No. 5 (1994).

2. Yu. M. Filippov, "Selectivity of small bubbles in flotation process," Fiz.-Tekh. Probl. Razrab. Polezn. Iskop., No.

2 (1994).

3. "New flotation process," Austral. Min., 86, No. 11 (1996).

4. A. M. Kolmogorov, "Drop breakup in a turbulent liquid flow," Dokl. Akad. Nauk SSSR, No. 6 (1949).

5. Yu. M. Filippov and S. A. Kondrat'ev, "Dispersion of air bubbles in a turbulent jet with a high exit velocity, upon

impact on a solid surface," Obogashch. Rud, No. 2 (1983).

6. V. G. Levich, Physicochemical Hydrodynamics, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J. (1962).

7. Yu. M. Filippov, "Coagulation of particles by air bubbles in a liquid flow in the process of flotation with Re > > 1,"

in: Intensification of Processes for Concentrating Minerals [in Russian], Mining Institute, Siberian Branch of the

Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Novosibirsk (1982).

. G. R. Bochkarev, Yu. P. Grigor'ev, and Yu. M. Filippov, "Commercial tests on experimental pneumatic machine,"

Tsvetn. Met., No. 8 (1983).

470

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