Flotation has been used for mineral beneficiation and coal cleaning for more than 100 years. Bubble-stabilising reagents (“frothers”) are widely used to control bubble sizes to optimise the separation efficiency.
However, excess frother concentrations leave residual froth that can interfere with downstream processes, while frother concentrations that are too low will limit yields and revenue. Current analytical processes to measure frother concentration have too slow a turnaround time to allow for real time adjustment of frother concentration.
A novel in-line system providing real-time measurement of frother concentration has been developed in the School of Chemical Engineering at The University of Queensland. The interaction of the OH group of frothers with a formulated liquid is determined using an optical scanner which provides an accurate and rapid measurement of frother concentration.
Laboratory studies have shown high measuring sensitivity and reproducibility in less than a minute with little interference from salts or other flotation reagents such as flocculants and collectors.
These features make this technology practical to use in-line and in real time in any mineral flotation plant to improve flotation operations and increase efficiency, yield and revenue.