Bubble size, coalescence and particle motion in flowing foams

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Title: Bubble size, coalescence and particle motion in flowing foams
Authors: Cole, Kathryn Elizabeth
Item Type: Thesis or dissertation
Abstract: In minerals processing, froth flotation is used to separate valuable metal minerals from ore. The efficiency of a froth to recover these valuable minerals is closely related to the bubble size distribution through the depth of the froth. Measurement of the bubble size entering the froth and at the froth surface has been achieved previously; however measurement of the bubble size within the froth is extremely difficult as the mineral laden bubble surfaces are opaque and fragile. This work developed a flowing foam column to enable new measurement techniques, in particular visual measurement of the bubble size distribution and velocity profile throughout the depth of the foam. Two phase foam systems share their structure with three phase froth flotation systems, but are transparent in a thin layer. A foam column was constructed to contain a monolayer of overflowing and coalescing foam. This enabled direct measurement of the dynamic bubble size and coalescence through image analysis. The results showed a strong link between column geometry and the foam behaviour. In addition, the measured bubble streamlines closely matched simulated results from a foam velocity model. Positron Emission Particle Tracking (PEPT) is the only existing technique to measure particle behaviour inside froths. In this work, tracer particles with different size and hydrophobicity were tracked in a foam flowing column with PEPT. The particle trajectories were verified with image analysis, thereby increasing confidence in PEPT measurements of opaque flotation systems. The results showed that as hydrophilic tracer particles passed through the foam, their trajectory was determined by the local structure and changes of the foam, such as coalescence events. A hydrophobic tracer particle was involved in drop–off and reattachment events, however in the majority of cases still overflowed with the foam. The tracer particle did not always follow the bubble streamlines of the flowing foam, taking instead the shortest path to overflow which cut across streamlines. This work has developed an experimental methodology to validate flowing foam and coalescence models and has developed the necessary techniques to interpret PEPT trajectories in froth flotation.
Issue Date: 2010
Date Awarded: Feb-2011
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/6325
Supervisor: Cilliers, Jan
Author: Cole, Kathryn Elizabeth
Department: Earth Science and Engineering
Publisher: Imperial College London
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Qualification Name: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Appears in Collections:Earth Science and Engineering PhD theses

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