Continuous column flotation of ultrafine coal using microbubbles

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


A flotation column has been developed Incorporating the use of fine air bubbles (less than 100 microns) to remove ash-forming minerals from micronized coal. The microbubble generator used In this work has been characterized and found to yield a very narrow size distribution. Microbubble column flotation tests have been conducted to study a series of operating variables such as time, bubble size, feed rate, feed point, feed percent solids, column height, bubble number concentration, make-up water addition and countercurrent wash water addition. The results show that i) fine air bubbles are Inherently better suited for floating small particles; ii) both ash and recovery rates Increase with Increasing feed rate, distance of the feed point from the tailings port, feed percent solids and bubble number concentration; iii) taller columns result In Improved recovery and ash rejection; and iv) the countercurrent wash water addition minimizes the entrainment of mineral matter to the froth product. Proper control of these parameters makes It possible to produce super clean coal (< 2% ash).