STTR Phase II: Chemical Sensors for In Situ Monitoring of Collector Chemicals in Complex Copper Mine Effluents

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase II
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Phase II
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
United Science LLC
15911 Furuby Rd, Center City, MN, 55012-0000
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Jon Thompson
(651) 329-9998
Business Contact:
Jon Thompson
(651) 329-9998
Research Institution:
United Science LLC

15911 Furuby Rd
Center City, MN, 55012-0000
(651) 213-6185
Domestic nonprofit research organization
This Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase II project addresses unmet analysis needs of froth flotation, a separations process widely used in the mining industry to separate worthless gangue from desired mineral particles. Phase I work has demonstrated the preparation of sensor membranes that permit the measurement of collector chemicals used in flotation suspensions. These sensors have been shown to be ideally suited for these measurements since they are not affected by turbidity, have high selectivity for collectors, and require no off-stream sample handling. The project will take advantage of the highly selective and fouling-resistant fluorous perfluoropolymer membranes introduced by the academic partner Phil Buhlmann. The Phase II project will optimize the sensing membrane characteristics to improve ion conduction and robustness. It will also assess the factors that affect sensor lifetime and engineer several prototypes to test at mining operations. The broader impacts of this research are significant as it will enable the mining industry to be 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 U.S. copper industry more competitive by reducing wasted collector while simultaneously improving mining sustainability by eliminating an estimated 24 tons of unnecessary chemical discharges. In addition to these benefits, the multidisciplinary aspects of this project will train students in synthetic and analytical techniques, involving concepts from chemistry, materials science, and engineering.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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