Responsive flocculation and improved solid-liquid separations
High-tech polymers which respond to changes in pH, temperature and UV light can be used to enable efficient solid-liquid separations. The key is to use the stimulus to switch between attraction (during settling) and repulsion (during consolidation). Rapid sedimentation in a continuous thickener as well as high density and low viscosity underflow has been demonstrated.
Responsive polymers which can be triggered to become hydrophobic are useful as flotation reagents because they both aggregate fine particles into size suitable for flotation and act as a collector by making the aggregate hydrophobic. Novel reagents for collection of iron and copper ores have been developed.
Dry mineral processing
In collaboration with Prof Jun Oshitani (Okayama Univ. of Science), we have developed a dry sand air fluidised bed dense medium float sink separation process for coal, iron ore and copper ores. The process has performance similar to conventional wet separation processes, but can save water and energy.
Aggregate-sediment rheological relationships
Our group studies the relationship between inter-particle forces, aggregate size and structure and the resulting sediment (or thickened underflow) flow and consolidation properties.