Direct mineral tracer activation in positron emission particle tracking of a flotation cell

Darryel Boucher, Adam Jordens, Joshua Sovechles, Ray Langlois, Thomas W. Leadbeater, Neil A. Rowson, Jan J. Cilliers, Kristian E. Waters*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the complex interplay of physics and chemistry inside a flotation cell is the ultimate goal of most flotation research. Key to the development of a model of flotation is the ability to validate it from measurements of a real flotation system. This work uses positron emission particle tracking (PEPT) to track directly activated mineral particles, hydrophobic and hydrophilic, in a lab-scale flotation cell. In contrast to other particle activation methods the direct activation technique allows mineral particles with their original surface characteristics to be used in PEPT experiments. In this work the flotation separation investigated was the separation of hematite from quartz from a synthetic ore using a combination of an oleic acid collector and sodium silicate depressant. This work represents the first time in which particles of typical flotation size (−106 + 90 μm diameter) with real bulk mineral properties and surface chemistry have been tracked in a flotation cell. The results illustrate small particles flow behaviour in the cell for a hydrophilic particle. The trajectory and velocities of the tracer particle are shown as it is transported inside the flotation cell.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-165
Number of pages11
JournalMinerals Engineering
Early online date5 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Direct activation
  • Hematite
  • Iron ore flotation
  • Positron emission particle tracking
  • Quartz

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Mechanical Engineering


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