Choosing mineral flotation collectors from large nanoparticle libraries Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Polystyrene nanoparticles can promote froth flotation of mineral particles if the nanoparticles are sufficiently hydrophobic and are colloidally stable in the high ionic strength solutions typical of commercial flotation operations. A library of 80 unique polystyrene nanoparticle types was prepared with click chemistry and used to determine if particles that were sufficiently hydrophilic to be colloidally stable in high ionic strength and high pH solutions, were also capable of promoting flotation. The conflicting requirements of colloidal stability and hydrophobicity can be achieved in 9 mM sodium carbonate, a very challenging environment. Instead of testing all 80 samples with laborious flotation testing, automated assays measuring colloid stability and nanoparticle hydrophobicity were employed. The colloid stability assay measured the critical coagulation concentrations (CCC). Nanoparticle hydrophobicity was characterized by water contact angle, measurements (CA). A smaller cohort of the most promising nanoparticle candidates for detailed flotation testing were identified by mapping nanoparticle properties on the CA versus CCC plain - a "Flotation Domain Diagram". We believe that this work was the first time that combinatorial synthesis and high throughput screening have been used in the development of flotation chemicals. Finally, based on the accumulated evidence, effective nanoparticle flotation collectors are likely to be ∼50 nm in diameter, with a soft hydrophobic polymer shell and with surface functional group densities in the order of magnitude of 0.1 nm-2.

publication date

  • April 2018