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Effect of nanobubbles on the flotation of different sizes of coal particle

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2013, Vol. 30, No. 3, pp. 157-161

Fan, Maoming; Tao, D.; Zhao, Yuemin; Honaker, R.


Froth flotation is the most widely used method of separating fine coal, especially coal with coking properties. However, froth flotation is not efficient for treating ultrafine coal and coarse coal particles. Our previous fundamental test results demonstrated that cavitation-generated nanobubbles around 700 nm in diameter can significantly improve coal and phosphate flotation performance over a wide particle size range. In this study, the effect of nanobubbles on the flotation performance of different particle size fractions of coal was investigated using a bank of 10-L flotation cells, a specially designed 50-mm inside diameter column and a 152-mm inside diameter column. It was found that nanobubbles that were either directly formed on or subsequently attached to the surface of coal particles during the froth flotation process improved flotation efficiency. The use of nanobubbles in a bank of mechanical cells flotation and column flotation significantly increased the flotation recovery at a given product grade. Nanobubbles increased the flotation rate constants of different coal particle sizes. The presence of nanobubbles in flotation slurry could extend the lower and the upper particle size limits for effective coal flotation.