FEIT Research Project Database

Dewatering small hydrophobic flocs

Project Leader: Anthony Stickland
Collaborators: Karen Hapgood (Deakin University)
Sponsors: ARC Centre of Excellence for Enabling Eco-Efficient Beneficiation of Minerals
Primary Contact: Anthony Stickland (stad@unimelb.edu.au)
Keywords: aggregation; fluid structure interactions; mineral processing; solid-liquid systems; suspension rheology
Disciplines: Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Improved water recovery and the production of tailings with minimal water content requires consideration of new methodologies to aggregate particles. The addition of oil to a mineral suspension will cause hydrophobic particles to agglomerate and reject water. The microstructure of these agglomerates is a function of:

  • the particle size, morphology and hydrophobicity
  • the type of oil (viscosity and surface tension)
  • the relative amounts of the oil, water and solid phases
  • the shear environment.

This study seeks to explore the relationships between the structure of hydrophobic flocs and their processing during dewatering, and to provide an optimised process for industrial implementation. Material characterisation will include shear rheology, solid–liquid separation and microstructural analysis (eg, cryo-SEM). The separation properties will be used in models of thickening and filtration to predict the performance of these operations. Based on the modelling results, a lab-scale process will be developed to demonstrate the effectiveness of the aggregation technique.

Further information: https://coeminerals.org.au/