MSE Research Project Database

Modelling aggregate size and structure

Project Leader: George Franks
Collaborators: Eirini Goudeli (Chemical Engineering)
Sponsors: ARC Centre of Excellence for Enabling Eco-Efficient Beneficiation of Minerals
Primary Contact: George Franks (
Keywords: computational fluid dynamics; mineral processing
Disciplines: Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

This project will investigate the role of shear on the formation and break up of aggregates with specific application to shear environments in different types of flotation cells and in tailings dewatering. The project will use particle-based DEM (discrete element modelling) coupled with CFD (computational fluid dynamics) to predict aggregate properties and behaviour.  The model will be developed and validated with existing results such as those recently published.1-2 The model will then be used to predict the aggregate size distribution in different mineral processing environments to guide experimental studies. The influence of different shear environments in different type of flotation cells, (columns, mechanical cells, reflux classifier) will be studied in order to understand if the aggregates can survive the shear in the flotation cell. The influence of shear during aggregation processes such as in thickeners will be studies in order to improve dewatering of tailings. The results of the project will reduce the impact of mineral processing on the environment. The project will help improve the recovery of valuable mineral resources. Increasing the recovery of water from tailings will reduce the amount of water used in mineral processing and significantly reduce the risk of tailings dam failures.

1. W. S. Ng, L. A. Connal, E. Forbes, K. Mohanarangam and G. V. Franks, “In situ study of aggregate sizes formed in chalcopyrite-quartz mixture using temperature-responsive polymers”, Advanced Powder Technology, 29, 1940-1949 (2018). 

2. W. S. Ng, L. A. Connal, E. Forbes, K. Mohanarangam and G. V. Franks, “In situ investigation of aggregate sizes formed using thermos-responsive polymers: Effect of temperature and shear”, Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 494, 139-152 (2017).

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