Parametric study and simulation of microbubble column flotation

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Virginia Tech


A study based on a statistically designed set of experiments (Box-Behnken design) has been conducted to determine the optimum conditions for advanced physical fine coal cleaning using microbubble column flotation. The dependent variables in these experiments were mass yield and product quality (ash, sulfur and btu), while the independent variables were feed solids content, collector dosage, frother dosage, feed rate, aeration rate, and wash water rate. The most important operating parameters in order of significant were found to be aeration rate, feed rate, frother dosage and wash water rate. The test data were found to fall along a single grade-recovery curve and just below the ideal separation curve predicted by release analysis, provided that a sufficient bias flow was maintained. The test results also demonstrated that various combinations of operating conditions can be utilized to achieve the same level of metallurgical performance.

In order to develop an improved understanding of the behavior of column flotation cells, a simulation package was developed by incorporating guidelines developed from the parametric test data. Simulations were carried out by examining the effects of key parameters on the performance of a column flotation cell. The parameters that were found to have the most significant influence included column length/diameter ratio, aeration rate, feed rate, feed solids content, and pulp bubble size. It was also found that limitations arising from the carrying capacity of the froth phase can greatly impact the performance of large-scale flotation columns. It is believed that this simulator will be useful for the design, control, optimization and scale-up of column flotation.