MSE Research Project Database

Size and structure of aggregates formed through reversible switching of hydrophilic to hydrophobic polymers under different shear regimes

Project Leader: George Franks
Collaborators: Erica Wanless (University of Newcastle)
Sponsors: ARC Centre of Excellence for Enabling Eco-Efficient Beneficiation of Minerals
Primary Contact: George Franks (
Keywords: mineral processing; stimulant responsive polymers
Disciplines: Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

This project will investigate the size and structure of mineral aggregates under various shear conditions. The aggregates will be formed using polymers which can change from hydrophilic (when in solution) to hydrophobic (when adsorbed to minerals surfaces).  The polymers will be developed by our collaborators.  Adsorption isotherms of polymers on mineral surfaces will be investigated.  The influence of the polymers on surface properties of the surfaces (contact angle, adsorption kinetics, surface-surface interaction, etc) will be investigated. The size and structure of the aggregates will be investigated under various shear rate regimes.  The sedimentation rate of the aggregates will be studied. Reagents to treat a range of different types of mineral tailings will be developed including quartz, pyrite and clays. The project will reduce the impact of mineral processing on the environment and significantly reduce the risk of tailings dam failures.  Increasing the recovery of water during thickening and from tailings will also reduce the amount of water required for mineral processing. New concepts in dewatering using switchable polymers will be developed. Prof George Franks is the primary supervisor. The project will involve some travel to the University of Newcastle to work with Prof Erica Wanless.

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