Design and development of novel mineral-specific collectors for flotation
Paper in proceedings, 2014
Almost all of the flotation reagents used today were discovered by continued application of empirical methods and/or trial and error experimentation. Moreover, with the metal-ion specific approach used so far, it is difficult to separate the minerals containing the same constituent metal ion. A critical assessment of molecular recognition processes involved in biomineralization suggested the possibility of using reagents which are surface specific. The concept that the molecules consisting of two or more functional groups having appropriate spacing between those so as to achieve structural/stereochemical compatibility during interaction with the mineral surface exhibit structure-specificity is thought to be extended to the design of specific collectors in flotation processes. In the present study, for the first time, a rational design of surface active molecules, and thereby the recognition of crystal faces (of minerals) by these molecules through structural and stereochemical matching is being utilized successfully to selectively float various minerals. For this purpose, carboxylate-based collectors (for mineral specific flotation of calcium minerals) as well as xanthate-based collectors (for mineral specific flotation of sulphide minerals) with a fixed alkyl chain length but having two functional groups with varying geometrical distances (separated by a spacer of one, two and three carbon atoms) between them have been synthesized. In this article, we have discussed the design, synthesis, purification of these novel mineral specific collectors as well as their important solution parameters in relation to flotation processes.