Nanoparticle Flotation Collectors II: The Role of Nanoparticle Hydrophobicity
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The ability of polystyrene nanoparticles to facilitate the froth flotation of glass beads was correlated to the hydrophobicity of the nanoparticles. Contact angle measurements were used to probe the hydrophobicity of hydrophilic glass surfaces decorated with hydrophobic nanoparticles. Both sessile water drop advancing angles, θ(a), and attached air bubble receding angle measurements, θ(r), were performed. For glass surfaces saturated with adsorbed nanoparticles, flotation recovery, a measure of flotation efficiency, increased with increasing values of each type of contact angle. As expected, the advancing water contact angle on nanoparticle-decorated, dry glass surfaces increased with surface coverage, the area fraction of glass covered with nanoparticles. However, the nanoparticles were far more effective at raising the contact angle than the Cassie-Baxter prediction, suggesting that with higher nanoparticle coverages the water did not completely wet the glass surfaces between the nanoparticles. A series of polystyrene nanoparticles was prepared to cover a range of surface energies. Water contact angle measurements, θ(np), on smooth polymer films formed from organic solutions of dissolved nanoparticles were used to rank the nanoparticles in terms of hydrophobicity. Glass spheres were saturated with adsorbed nanoparticles and were isolated by flotation. The minimum nanoparticle water contact angle to give high flotation recovery was in the range of 51° < θ(np(min)) ≤ 85°.
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