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

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
United Science LLC
15911 Furuby Rd, Center City, MN, 55012
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Jon Thompson
(651) 329-9998
Business Contact:
Jon Thompson
(651) 329-9998
Research Institution:
Univ. of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Dasi Hagen
200 Oak Street S.E
450 McNamara Alumni Center
Minneapolis, MN, 55455 2070
(612) 624-1431
Nonprofit college or university
This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5). This Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I 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. The goal of this Phase I is the preparation of sensors that permit the measurement of collector chemicals used in flotation suspensions. Our proposed sensors are expected to be ideally suited for these measurements since they are not affected by turbidity, have a collector selectivity that can be tuned with specific receptors, 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 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, our 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. 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. A graduate student will have the opportunity to mentor an undergraduate students involved in this project through directed research studies and through the NSF-REU programs at the UMN.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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