SBIR Phase I: Selective Chemical Probes for Measurement of Flotation Collector Reagents in Sulfidic Ore Beneficiation
This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will research and develop selective chemical probes for use in froth flotation systems. Sulfide mineral froth flotation is a solid-solid separations process which dominates all other methods used in the mining industry to purify a target mineral from refuse minerals such as clay, wood, , diesel fuel, and other economically worthless substances. Flotation operators typically maximize mineral recovery and knowingly add into the flotation device an excess (10-30%) of mineral selective collector reagents that react with the target mineral and are subsequently removed by flotation. The aim of this project is to accurately control the amount of collector to a small (1-2%) excess. There are no commercially available sensors to do this task primarily because these complex and highly variable matrices strongly interfere with the measurement. It is the goal of this work to research and develop probes that will allow the selective measurement of the collector reagent in the presence of the interfering matrix. The bulk of the work involves synthesis of various types of probe materials for two different collectors. The effectiveness of the probes to separate the target collector chemical from the matrix with real world mining effluents will be tested. The project will have a significant
societal impact by making the mining industry more sustainable in its approach to mineral recovery. Specifically, the research aims to significantly reduce the amount of toxic chemical waste associated with froth flotation and its inevitable environmental impact. The method has the potential of making the US copper industry more competitive by saving over $200 M in wasted collector while simultaneously improving mining sustainability by eliminating an estimated 891,000 kg of unnecessary chemical discharges. This project will make a significant contribution to flotation operating knowledge, as it is well known that recommended conditions based on lab testing rarely match a real operation, and will bring sensors to the operation. This project will be conducted in close collaboration with Professor Peter Carr of the University of Minnesota. This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).
Small Business Information at Submission:
United Science LLC
15911 Furuby Rd Center City, MN 55012
Number of Employees: