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Gas dispersion and de-inking in a otation column

H. Hernaandez
1
, C.O. G oomez, J.A. Finch
*
Department of Mining, Metals & Materials Engineering, McGill University, 3610 University, Montreal, Qc., Canada H3A 2B2
Received 14 March 2003; accepted 2 May 2003
Abstract
The role of four gas dispersion parameters in ink particle collection was investigated in 4
00
and 20
00
otation columns. Gas holdup
(e
g
) and supercial gas velocity (J
g
) were measured on-line and bubble size (d
b
) was estimated using drift ux analysis that enabled
bubble surface area ux (S
b
) to be calculated. Operating with approximately zero froth depth ink recovery as a function of retention
time (controlled by underow rate) was determined. Using a mixing model, the collection zone otation rate constant (k
c
) was
estimated from the recoverytime data. The rate constant was not related to J
g
or d
b
but was linearly dependent on e
g
and S
b
,
similar to ndings in mineral otation studies.
2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Froth otation; Flotation kinetics; Modeling
1. Introduction
Flotation involves contacting particles (typically
<150 lm) in a pulp (slurry) with a dispersion of bubbles
(typically 0.52.5 mm). The properties of this bubble
(gas) dispersion clearly play an important role. Recent
developments have permitted reliable measurement of
some gas dispersion parameters, notably supercial gas
rate (J
g
), gas holdup (e
g
) and bubble size (d
b
). In a series
of papers on mineral otation systems, Gorain et al.
(1995a,b, 1996, 1997, 1998) found the pulp zone ota-
tion rate constant (k
c
) (i.e., excluding the froth) did not
correlate with any of these parameters individually but
was linearly dependent on a derived parameter the
bubble surface area ux (S
b
), the bubble surface area per
unit time per unit cross-sectional area of the otation
cell, given by S
b
6 J
g
=d
b
(Finch and Dobby, 1990).
The relationship, typically expressed k
c
PS
b
, seemed
independent of machine type, S
b
appearing to dene the
key machine contribution to otation with P (o-
atability) lumping all other factors such as particle size
and hydrophobicity eects. The observation has at-
tracted considerable attention, including a critique of
the database (Heiskanen, 2000). We have argued that e
g
can substitute for S
b
, supported by data from various
sources including de-inking in a otation column (Finch
et al., 2000). This communication continues to explore
the relationship between rate constant and gas disper-
sion parameters using de-inking of recycled paper in a
otation column.
In this, the system oers some advantages over min-
eral otation in mechanical machines. The low solids
content in de-inking,
2
typically 1% w/w solids, means
the bubbles are unlikely to fully load, meeting an as-
sumption for calculating a rst-order otation rate
constant. The low % solids and absence of mechanical
agitation enables gas holdup to be measured simply and
reliably by dierential pressure.
2. Experimental method
2.1. The columns
The experiments were performed on industrial paper
recycle pulps using a 4
00
laboratory (10 cm, H 600
cm) and a 20
00
pilot column (50 cm, H 550 cm)
installed at Bowaters Gatineau (Qc, Canada) de-inking
plant (Fig. 1). Three pressure transmitters were installed
at intervals along the length of both columns to measure
*
Corresponding author. Tel.: +1-514-398-1452; fax: +1-514-398-
4492.
E-mail address: jim.nch@mcgill.ca (J.A. Finch).
1
Now with PyroGenesis Inc. 2000 Willian St., Montreal, Qc.,
Canada H3J 1R8.
2
In de-inking % solids by weight is known as consistency.
0892-6875/03/$ - see front matter 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/S0892-6875(03)00170-5
Minerals Engineering 16 (2003) 739744
This article is also available online at:
www.elsevier.com/locate/mineng
the gas holdup and to control the position of the pulp/
froth interface (i.e., level). The air rate was regulated by
a mass owmeter/controller. A peristaltic pump (with I/
O card) and a centrifugal pump controlled the ow of
feed and underow,
3
respectively. The feed and un-
derow rates were measured by magnetic owmeter with
signal conversion and were regulated using control
valves. Bubble generation used three porous stainless
steel spargers supplied by Mott Industrial with nominal
pore size 0.5, 2 and 20 lm. The temperature was mea-
sured with an ICTD probe. All instruments were mon-
itored using a serial communication interface OPTO and
a computer. The software package for data collection
and column operation was FIXDMACS version 6.1.
The general set-up and layout is shown in Fig. 2.
2.2. Procedure
The columns were fed continuously with pulp (45
C, 1.2% w/w solids, pH 10 (NaOH) and surfactant,
a blend of stearic and oleic fatty acid soaps) from the
feed end of the de-inking plant otation circuit (ca. 1.2%
w/w solids). The chemical conditions were not altered.
Level was controlled with the feed rate and set to within
12 cm of the column overow lip, i.e., operation with
essentially zero froth depth. The feed and underow
rates, gas rate and gas holdup were monitored during
each experiment. Samples of 1 L were taken from the
underow and feed streams as a function of time when
steady-state conditions were achieved. The particle re-
tention time was controlled with the underow rate. Ink
recovery was measured according to Bowaters proce-
dure and calculated as follows:
R
ink

C
i
S
i
Q
i
q
i
C
o
S
o
Q
o
q
o

C
i
S
i
Q
i
q
i

1
where S is the % w/w solids, Q the volumetric owrate, q
the stream density and the subscripts refer to initial (i)
and nal (o) values. The ink concentration C (ppm) was
measured using the reectance of paper pads at a
wavelength of 950 nm in a Technidyne Micro TB-1C
machine. An average of 10 values (5 per side) was ob-
tained.
2.3. Pulp (collection) zone mixing model
Recovery in the collection zone (R
c
) is a function of
the rate constant (k
c
), ink particle residence time (s
p
) and
degree of mixing, represented by the vessel dispersion
number (N
d
). One extreme of mixing is plug ow
(N
d
!0), where all elements have the same residence
time and there is a concentration gradient of oatable
particles along the axis of the column. The other ex-
treme is a completely mixed reactor (N
d
!1), where a
distribution of residence time exists and the concentra-
tion is the same throughout the vessel (Levenspiel,
1999). For a rst-order rate process with plug ow and
perfect mixing transport R
c
is given by Eqs. (2) and (3)
respectively:
R
c
R
eq
1 expk
c
s
p
2
R
c
R
eq
1
_

1
1 k
c
s
p
_ _
_
3
where R
eq
is the equilibrium (or maximum) recovery at
long otation time.
For vessels with levels of mixing between the two
extremes, the relationship between R
c
and N
d
can be
given by the axial dispersion model (Levenspiel, 1999):
Fig. 1. Column otation test facility at Bowaters de-inking plant.
3
In de-inking the underow is called the accepts.
Fig. 2. General experimental set-up.
740 H. Hernaandez et al. / Minerals Engineering 16 (2003) 739744
R
c
R
eq
1
_
_

4Aexp
1
2N
d
_ _
1 A
2
exp
A
2N
d
_ _
1 A
2
exp
A
2N
d
_ _
_
_
4
where: A 1 4k
c
s
ink
N
d

1=2
An expression for the vessel dispersion number N
d
as
a function of design and operating variables for the
system had been previously derived (Hernandez et al.,
2001) based on the form suggested by Luttrell et al.
(1990), namely:
N
d
1:3
D
c
H
c
J
g
J
l
1
_
_
e
g
_
_
0:67
5
where D
c
and H
c
are column diameter and height, re-
spectively. With the estimate of vessel dispersion num-
ber from Eq. (5) substituted in Eq. (4) the rate constant
was calculated.
2.4. Bubble size
In the absence of direct bubble size measurement,
which is only now becoming available for otation
systems (Hernandez-Aguilar et al., 2002; Grau and
Heiskanan, 2002; Randall et al., 1989), bubble size is
estimated. A method derived from drift ux analysis
using gas rate and gas holdup is employed (Banisi and
Finch, 1994).
3. Results
The rate equations require R
eq
, which, from inspec-
tion of the data, was 87%, a consistent nding in test
work at this Bowater operation (Watson, 1996; Leichtle,
1998; Hardie, 1998). In the lab column where the height/
diameter ratio is 60 plug ow can be assumed (Finch
and Dobby, 1990) where the otation rate constant (k
c
)
is the slope of the plot ln1 R
c
=R
eq
against residence
time (s
p
). Fig. 3 shows this assumption is supported.
Nevertheless to be consistent the rate constants for all
tests, lab and pilot scale, were determined using the axial
dispersion model given by Eq. (4).
The dependence of k
c
on the various gas dispersion
parameters was explored. Against gas rate (Fig. 4) the
data divide into a set for each column while against gas
holdup a reasonably linear dependence was found (Fig.
5). Against bubble size (Fig. 6) no relationship is ap-
parent (if anything, an inverse dependence is antici-
pated) while the dependence on S
b
shows agreement
with a linear relationship (Fig. 7). The slope (i.e., P) is
ca. 10
4
(dimensionless).
Fig. 3. Test of plug ow assumption for lab column (sparger, 0.5 lm).
Fig. 4. Flotation rate constant as a function of supercial gas velocity.
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
1.2
1.4
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35
Gas holdup, Eg (%)
F
l
o
t
a
t
i
o
n

r
a
t
e

c
o
n
s
t
a
n
t
,

k
c

(
1
/
m
i
n
)
4" Lab 20" Pilot
Fig. 5. Flotation rate constant as a function of gas holdup.
H. Hernaandez et al. / Minerals Engineering 16 (2003) 739744 741
4. Discussion
To test the dependence of rate constant on the gas
dispersion parameters requires integration of several
measurements. The work of Gorain et al., Heiskanen
(2000) and Heiskanen et al. (2001) illustrate some of the
issues. The system employed here oered the advantages
of operation without a froth (thus collection rate con-
stant is determined directly rather than having to de-
couple from froth eects) and low % solids (thus
approaching the assumption of a rst-order process,
which Fig. 3 indicates was met. The disadvantages are
the need to estimate the rate constant from a mixing
model and the need to compute d
b
. Experience in col-
umns suggests the estimate of d
b
is within 15% of the
Sauter mean (Yianatos et al., 1988). The particle size
range may be considered wide, ink particles are typically
<100 lm (Lindsay and Mostafa, 1995), but it is not
unusual to ascribe a single rate constant to a otation
feed, as for example in the work of Gorain et al.
The results are similar to those reported elsewhere.
The rate constant is linearly related to e
g
, as anticipated
in a previous communication (Finch et al., 2000), and to
S
b
, which agrees with the claim of Gorain et al. (1997,
1998). The P, ca 10
4
, is of the same order as found by
Gorain et al. (1998) (after converting their values to
dimensionless form), although correspondence with P
for Zn minerals in mechanical machines may simply be
fortuitous. Relating the two parameters, S
b
5:5 e
g
as
before (Finch et al., 2000) but given S
b
is in part derived
from e
g
(via d
b
estimated by drift ux) the two param-
eters are not strictly independent. The lack of depen-
dence on J
g
and d
b
, mirroring the ndings of Gorain
et al. (1995a,b, 1996), has at least two sources: the
variation in bubble size with gas rate (d
b
tends to in-
crease with J
g
), and variation in the J
g
d
b
relationship
between machines, which probably explains why for the
two columns the k
c
J
g
data divide into two sets (Fig. 4).
The dependence on bubble surface area ux implies
an inverse dependence on bubble size whereas the liter-
ature supports k
c
/ 1=d
n
b
with n from 0 to 2 (Ahmed and
Jameson, 1989) and even 3 (Yoon, 1993). An n > 1
implies that bubble size has more impact on the rate
constant than a linear dependence on S
b
would indicate.
It may be that the variation in bubble size is too limited
(Fig. 6 shows a range of only 0.1 to 0.2 cm) and a linear
dependence on S
b
emerges as an approximation. The
range of bubble size available in an operating machine
tends, however, to be limited and thus the approxima-
tion may be practical. Bubble size is controlled by ma-
chine design and operating variables, most of which are
xed except for gas rate and frother dosage. If frother
concentration is constant the d
b
J
g
relationship could
be calibrated, then S
b
becomes a function of J
g
only
(Xu et al., 1991; Gomez and Finch, 2002). Fig. 4 hints at
this (surfactant dosage was not varied in our tests): the
rate constant is reasonably correlated with gas rate for
the two columns individually.
The linear k
c
S
b
relationship has excited much at-
tention, forming the basis of one approach to otation
modeling (Gorian et al., 2000; Harris and Harris, 2002).
Apart from the database being limited in bubble size
range it is also dominated by relatively ne particles
(again the case here). Heiskanen et al. (2001) found
linearity was approached only for the nest particles
(<32 lm). Some question remains, therefore, regarding
the range of applicability. In addition to the rate con-
stant, bubble surface area ux inuences entrainment
and froth behaviour since water transport depends on S
b
(Xu et al., 1991; Ventura-Medina and Cilliers, 2002).
The otation models are progressively incorporating
these components.
Regardless of modeling, the gas dispersion parame-
ters become powerful diagnostics. The measurements
Fig. 6. Flotation rate constant as a function of bubble size.
Fig. 7. Flotation rate constant as a function of bubble surface area
ux.
742 H. Hernaandez et al. / Minerals Engineering 16 (2003) 739744
have been used to remedy instrument and machine
malfunctions and dene the cell operating range (Dahlke
et al., 2001). We have used measurement of S
b
to help
unravel summer/winter metallurgy swings (communica-
tion in preparation); to evaluate changes in rotor speed
and location in a mechanical machine (as reported by
Kerr et al., 2003); and, in scaling up a de-inking column,
to select from among candidate sparger types, nding
that while all operated on the same recoveryS
b
line
some could not deliver sucient S
b
(Finch et al., 1999).
Surveys show S
b
in the range 2050 s
1
(Deglon et al.,
2000) with a maximum ca. 100120 s
1
before the
cell oods (or boils) (Finch et al., 1999; Gorain
et al., 1997; Xu et al., 1991). Being well below the
maximum may imply the operating S
b
seeks a compro-
mise among rate of otation, entrainment and froth
transport. In a bank of cells, a certain prole of S
b
may be optimal (Gomez and Finch, 2002; Dahlke et al.,
2001).
5. Conclusions
De-inking in a otation column was used to test the
dependence of the pulp zone rate constant on the gas
dispersion parameters. A linear relationship with bubble
surface area ux was found as reported in mineral o-
tation in mechanical machines. A linear dependence on
gas holdup was also found supporting a previous sug-
gestion that these two gas dispersion parameters can be
interchanged.
Acknowledgements
The authors wish to thank Bowater Gatineaus mill
for providing equipment and test facilities. Special
thanks are also given to the Mechanical and Chemi-
mechanical Wood-Pulps Network (Natural Sciences and
Engineering Council of Canada Network of Excellence)
for their nancial support, and the Consejo Nacional de
Ciencia y Tecnologa (CONACYT) of Mexico for a
scholarship to H.H.
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