Development and Validation of a Simulator based on a First-Principle Flotation Model
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A first-principle flotation model was derived at Virginia Tech from the basic mechanisms involved in the bubble-particle and bubble-bubble interactions occurring in a flotation cell (Yoon and Mao, 1996; Sherrell and Yoon, 2005; Do, H, 2010). The model consists of a series of analytical equations for bubble generation, bubble-particle collision, attachment, detachment, and froth phase recovery. The process of bubble-particle attachment has been modelled on the premise that bubble-particle attachment occurs when the disjoining pressure of the thin liquid in a wetting films formed between particle and bubble is negative, as was first suggested by Laskowski and Kitchener (1969). These provisions allow for the flotation model to incorporate various chemistry parameters such as zeta-potentials, contact angles, surface tension in addition to the physical and hydrodynamic parameters such as particle size, bubble size, and energy dissipation rate. In the present work, the effects of both hydrodynamic and chemistry parameters have been studied using the model-based computer simulator. A series of laboratory batch flotation experiments carried out on mono-sized glass beads validated the simulation results. The flotation feeds were characterized in terms of particle size, contact angle, and Hamaker constant, and the flotation experiments were conducted at different energy dissipation rates, gas rates, froth heights. The flotation tests were also carried out on mixtures of hydrophobic silica and hydrophilic magnetite particles, so that the grades of the flotation products can be readily determined by magnetic separation. The experimental results are in good agreement with the model predictions both in terms of grade and recovery.
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