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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 0038-223X


GOVENDER, D; LELINSKI, D  and  TRACZYK, F. Hybrid Energy FlotationTM - on the optimization of fine and coarse particle kinetics in a single ro. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2013, vol.113, n.3, pp.00-00. ISSN 2411-9717.

Theoretical flotation models suggest that there is a positive relationship between bubble-particle collision rates and turbulent kinetic energy dissipation. Fine particle flotation performance is generally enhanced by increased collision frequency and hence higher energy dissipation. Contrarily, increased turbulence in the rotor-stator region is related to higher detachment frequency of the coarser size range. Therefore, the optimal modes of recovery for the 'fine' and 'coarse' size classes appear to be diametrically opposed. Industrial applications have previously confirmed that applying greater power to flotation slurries yields significant improvements in fine particle recovery. However, recovery of the coarser size class favours a different flotation environment. An improvement in the flotation kinetics of the fine and coarse size classes, provided there is no adverse metallurgical influence on the intermediate size ranges, is obviously beneficial to the overall recovery response. Managing the local turbulent kinetic energy dissipation, and hence the power imparted to the slurry, offers the benefit of targeting the particle size ranges exhibiting slower kinetics. FLSmidth recently introduced the practical implementation of this concept. In principle, it decouples flotation regimes where fine and coarse particles exhibit preferentially recovery. In the case of naturally aspirated machines (Wemco®), it is referred to as Hybrid Energy FlotationTM and incorporates at least three phases: ► Standard flotation machines (standard energy input, rotor speed (r/min), rotor size/type) at the beginning of the row, where flotation is typically froth-phase limited and operational and set-up parameters have a limited influence on the recovery ► Higher-powered flotation machines (high rotor speed, high-power rotor size/type) at the end of the row to improve fine particle recovery ► Lower-powered flotation machines (low rotor speed, low power rotor size/type) to enhance coarse particle recovery. A CFD-based flotation model is used to highlight the effect of turbulent dissipation energy on attachment and detachment rates. Preferential collection zones for 'fine' and 'coarse' particles are predicted for both forced-air and naturally aspirated machines. The greater predominance of UG2 ore types, coupled with the skewed feed distribution of platinum group metals (PGMs) to the finer size fractions, suggests that PGM flotation circuits are not designed for optimal recovery across the size distribution. The application of the hybrid energy concept to PGM flotation offers a possible shift towards a more efficient flotation circuit solution through a managed distribution of energy.

Keywords : CFD-based model; attachment; detachment; energy dissipation; Hybrid Energy FlotationTM; forced air; naturally aspirated.

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