Imperial College London

Professor Jan Cilliers

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Earth Science & Engineering

Chair in Mineral Processing
 
 
 
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Contact

 

+44 (0)20 7594 7360j.j.cilliers

 
 
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Location

 

RSM 1.46BRoyal School of MinesSouth Kensington Campus

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Summary

 

Publications

Publication Type
Year
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146 results found

Malone L, Cardin M-A, Cilliers JJ, Hadler Ket al., 2023, Exploring Novel Architectures in Lunar In-Situ Resource Utilisation, Brisbane, Australia, 26th World Mining Congress

Conference paper

Malone L, Cardin M-A, Cilliers J, Hadler Ket al., 2022, Development of a Comprehensive Lunar Mining Simulator to Study Design and Decision-Making under Uncertainty, Paris, France, International Astronautical Congress

Conference paper

Yu Y, Cilliers J, Hadler K, Starr S, Wang Yet al., 2022, A review of particle transport and separation by electrostatic traveling wave methods, Journal of Electrostatics, Vol: 119, Pages: 1-16, ISSN: 0304-3886

The controlled movement of dry particles using non-mechanical means is desirable in a number of different applications, including solar panel dust mitigation, toner particle motion and in the handling and beneficiation of regolith for In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU). The electric curtain, the electrostatic traveling wave (ETW) and the electro-dynamic screen (EDS) are examples of techniques that can transport and separate particles with no moving parts nor fluid medium. This review paper brings together the research carried out on these techniques.We provide a comprehensive review on the particle movement mechanisms and the development and application of ETW methods, featuring a diverse range of hardware and circuitry, particulate material and process objectives. We focus on the evaluation of experimental development in the area of dust mitigation, particle transport and ISRU processes. We also detail the current knowledge about theory and modelling methods. Moreover, we provide a guide for possible improvement of the effectiveness of ETW devices, by outlining the limitations in application, theoretical understanding and potential research aspects.

Journal article

Rasera JN, Cruise RD, Cilliers JJ, Lamamy J-A, Hadler Ket al., 2022, Modelling the tribocharging process in 2D and 3D, Powder Technology, Vol: 407, Pages: 1-12, ISSN: 0032-5910

Many discrete element method (DEM) tribocharging models presented in the literature rely on ill-defined or poorly quantified charging parameters. This work presents a straightforward experimental method to quantify key parameters, namely the charge transfer limit, Γ, and the charging efficiency, κc. These parameters are then used in both 2D and 3D DEM simulations to evaluate the applicability of faster 2D models to tribocharge modelling. Both the 2D and 3D models are found to perform well against the experimental data for single-contact and single-particle, multi-contact systems. However, the 2D model fails to produce good agreement with experimental data for multi-contact, multi-particle systems. This approach for determining experimentally the parameters for the DEM tribocharging model is found to be effective and produces good agreement between simulated and experimental data. This method will improve and simplify the DEM modelling of triboelectric charging in dry material handling processes.

Journal article

Cole K, Brito-Parada PR, Hadler K, Mesa D, Neethling SJ, Norori-McCormac AM, Cilliers JJet al., 2022, Characterisation of solid hydrodynamics in a three-phase stirred tank reactor with positron emission particle tracking (PEPT), Chemical Engineering Journal, Vol: 433, Pages: 1-13, ISSN: 1385-8947

It is challenging to measure the hydrodynamics of stirred tank reactors when they contain multiphase flows comprising liquid, gas bubbles and particles. Radioactive particle tracking techniques such as positron emission particle tracking (PEPT) are the only established techniques to determine internal flow behaviour due to the inherent opacity and density of fluid and the vessel walls. The profiles of solids flow are an important tool for robust reactor design and optimisation and offer insight into underlying transport processes and particle–fluid–bubble interactions for applications such as froth flotation. In this work, measurements with PEPT were performed with two tracer particles differing in surface hydrophobicity to characterise the solids hydrodynamics in a baffled vessel agitated with a Rushton turbine. The location data from PEPT were averaged with time to estimate the probability density function (PDF) of particle velocity in individual voxels. The peaks of these voxel distributions were used to produce profiles of solids flow in different azimuthal and horizontal slices. Bimodal vertical velocity distributions were observed in the impeller radial jet which suggest the particles experienced trajectory crossing effects due to inertia. Statistical tests were performed to compare the velocity distributions of the hydrophilic and hydrophobic tracer particles, which indicated similar average flow behaviour in the liquid or pulp phase of the vessel and differences near the air inlet, in the impeller discharge stream and pulp–froth interface. With tracers designed to represent gangue and valuable mineral species, the differences in velocity reveal interactions such as bubble–particle attachment and entrainment.

Journal article

Cole K, Barker DJ, Brito-Parada PR, Buffler A, Hadler K, Mackay I, Mesa D, Morrison AJ, Neethling S, Norori-McCormac A, Shean B, Cilliers Jet al., 2022, Standard method for performing positron emission particle tracking (PEPT) measurements of froth flotation at PEPT Cape Town, MethodsX, Vol: 9, Pages: 101680-101680, ISSN: 2215-0161

Positron emission particle tracking (PEPT) is a technique for measuring the motion of tracer particles in systems of flow such as mineral froth flotation. An advantage of PEPT is that tracer particles with different physical properties can be tracked in the same experimental system, which allows detailed studies of the relative behaviour of different particle classes in flotation. This work describes the standard operating protocol developed for PEPT experiments in a flotation vessel at PEPT Cape Town in South Africa. A continuously overflowing vessel with constant air recovery enables several hours of data acquisition at steady state flow and consistent flotation conditions. Tracer particles are fabricated with different coatings to mimic mineral surface hydrophobicity and size, and a data treatment derived from a rotating disk study is utilized to produce high frequency (1 kHz) location data relative to the tracer activity. Time averaging methods are used to represent the Eulerian flow field and occupancy of the tracer behaviour based on voxel schemes in different co-ordinate systems. The average velocity of the flow in each voxel is calculated as the peak of the probability density function to represent the peak of asymmetrical or multimodal distributions.•A continuously overflowing flotation vessel was developed for extended data acquisition at steady state flow.•The data treatment enabled the direct comparison of different particle classes in the flotation vessel.•The solids flow fields was described by the probability density function of tracer particle velocity measured in different voxel schemes.

Journal article

Cruise RD, Hadler K, Starr SO, Cilliers JJet al., 2022, The effect of particle size and relative humidity on triboelectric charge saturation, Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, Vol: 55, Pages: 1-14, ISSN: 0022-3727

Triboelectric charging is present in numerous technologies and everyday processes, providing both problems and opportunities. Despite this, there is no generalised model for the amount of charge that will build up on surfaces in contact. Here, we develop a new model for the saturation charge on triboelectrically charged spherical insulators, accounting for both equalisation of surface potentials and electrical breakdown of the surrounding medium. Experiments are conducted under controlled temperature and humidity using two independent methods, measuring the saturation charge on polymer spheres contacting grounded stainless steel. The results verify our equalisation of surface potentials model which describes how saturation charge density increases for smaller particle sizes. Key triboelectric properties are calculated: The estimated saturation charge on a flat surface and the equalisation potential between different materials, which can be used to predict charge saturation and quantify a triboelectric series. The transition radius below which electrical breakdown will cause saturation of charge is also calculated theoretically. Limitations to the model are demonstrated experimentally. As particle size reduces, a point is reached at which the electrostatic adhesion of particles to the grounded charging surface prevents further charge build-up. Furthermore, it is found that the saturation charge for smaller particles in humid conditions is greatly reduced. These calculations, and the demonstrated procedure, can serve as a tool for the design of technologies and processes influenced by triboelectric charge build-up, including triboelectric nanogenerators and electrostatic mineral separators.

Journal article

Vega-Garcia D, Cilliers JJ, Brito-Parada PR, 2020, CFD modelling of particle classification in mini-hydrocyclones, Separation and Purification Technology, Vol: 251, Pages: 1-9, ISSN: 1383-5866

This work presents validated Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) predictions of the effect that changes in vortex finder and spigot diameters have on the classification performance of mini-hydrocyclones. Mini-hydrocyclones (e.g. 10 mm in diameter) have been applied successfully to the separation of micron-sized particles since their bypass fraction is larger than the water recovery, which results in a high particle recovery to the underflow, as well as low water recovery. However, a larger bypass fraction can be a disadvantage when the purpose of the hydrocyclone is particle classification, because of the large amount of fine particles that are misplaced in the underflow. Although it is well known that changes in the outlets of the hydrocyclone affect its performance, there is limited research on the effect of these design parameters in mini-hydrocyclones, in particular with regard to particle classification. The aim of this study is to computationally explore the influence of spigot and vortex finder on the classification process. To this end, CFD simulations were carried out and the predictions experimentally validated in a 3D printed mini-hydrocyclone using glass beads (below 20μm) as the particulate system. The numerical results showed very good agreement with the experimental data for recovery of solids, concentration ratio, pressure drop and particle size distribution. A trade-off was observed between the solids recovery and concentration ratio, while the solids recovery was found to be inversely proportional to the pressure drop when vortex finder diameters were kept constant. It was found that the design that yielded the lowest recovery among those tested also resulted in a particle size distribution furthest away from that of the feed. We show how the model can be used to assess changes in design parameters in order to inform the selection of designs that exhibit lower energy requirements without compromising separation performance.

Journal article

Rasera J, Cilliers J, Lamamy J-A, Hadler Ket al., 2020, The beneficiation of lunar regolith for space resource utilisation: A review, Planetary and Space Science, Vol: 186, ISSN: 0032-0633

Space Resource Utilisation (SRU) technology will enable further exploration and habitation of space by humankind. The production of oxygen on the Moon is one of the first objectives for SRU; this can be achieved through the thermo-chemical reduction of the lunar regolith. Several techniques, such as hydrogen reduction and molten salt electrolysis, have been proposed. All reduction techniques require a consistent feedstock from the regolith to reliably and consistently produce oxygen. The preparation of this feedstock, known as beneficiation, is a critical intermediate stage of the SRU flowsheet, however it has received little consideration relative to the preceding excavation, and the subsequent oxygen production stage. This review describes the physics of the main beneficiation methods suitable for SRU. Further, we collate and review all of the previous studies on the beneficiation of lunar regolith.

Journal article

Wang P, Reyes F, Cilliers J, Brito Parada PRet al., 2020, Evaluation of collector performance at the bubble-particle scale, Minerals Engineering, Vol: 147, Pages: 1-3, ISSN: 0892-6875

Particle attachment and detachment in froth flotation are complex processes and their measurement presents many challenges. Of particular interest is the effect of collectors at the bubble-particle scale, in order to assess the strength or collecting ability of these reagents. However, studies of the effect of collectors on particle attachment at the bubble-particle scale are scarce. In this work, we propose a methodology to characterise collector strength by measuring the attachment rate of particles to a capillary-pinned bubble. An image processing technique was developed to quantify bubble surface coverage over time, which was then used to determine particle attachment kinetics. The image analysis strategy is based on the sessile drop method and uses curve fitting to determine accurately the particle coverage. The methodology was used to assess the collecting ability of three chalcopyrite collectors. Interestingly, although very similar contact angle measurements were found for two of the collectors, they showed distinctly different particle attachment kinetics. It is proposed that this particle-bubble attachment method can be used to gain additional information not currently available from either contact angle measurements or bulk collector performance tests.

Journal article

Hadler K, Martin DJP, Carpenter J, Cilliers JJ, Morse A, Starr S, Rasera JN, Seweryn K, Reiss P, Meurisse Aet al., 2020, A universal framework for Space Resource Utilisation (SRU), Planetary and Space Science, Vol: 182, Pages: 1-5, ISSN: 0032-0633

Space Resource Utilisation (SRU) or In Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU) is the use of natural resources from the Moon, Mars and other bodies for use in situ or elsewhere in the Solar System. The implementation of SRU technologies will provide the breakthrough for humankind to explore further into space. A range of extraction processes to produce useable resources have been proposed, such as oxygen production from lunar regolith, extraction of lunar ice and construction of habitation by 3D printing. Practical and successful implementation of SRU requires that all the stages of the process flowsheet (excavation, beneficiation and extraction) are considered. This requires a complete ‘mine-to-market’ type approach, analogous to that of terrestrial mineral extraction.One of the key challenges is the unique cross-disciplinary nature of SRU; it integrates space systems, robotics, materials handling and beneficiation, and chemical process engineering. This is underpinned by knowledge of the lunar or planetary geology, including mineralogy, physical characteristics, and the variability in local materials. Combining such diverse fields in a coordinated way requires the use of a universal framework. The framework will enable integration of operations and comparison of technologies, and will define a global terminology to be used across all fields. In this paper, a universal SRU flowsheet and terminology are described, and a matrix approach to describing regolith characteristics specifically for SRU is proposed. This is the first time that such an approach has been taken to unify this rapidly-developing sector.

Journal article

Cilliers J, Hadler K, Rasera J, 2020, Estimating the scale of Space Resource Utilisation (SRU) operations to satisfy lunar oxygen demand, Planetary and Space Science, Vol: 180, Pages: 1-8, ISSN: 0032-0633

The production of oxygen from lunar regolith is analogous to metal production from ore in a terrestrial mine. The process flowsheets both include excavation, haulage and beneficiation of the regolith or ore to provide the feedstock for the chemical extraction of oxygen or metal. The production rate of oxygen depends on the mass rate of regolith treated and the efficiency of converting the regolith to oxygen. To date, the development of Space Resource Utilisation (SRU) has been concerned with the technological development of the process, particularly the excavation and oxygen extraction. However, the required operating mass rates of the mine operation and the oxygen extraction stage have not been considered in any great detail.Previous estimates of mining scale for lunar oxygen production are reviewed, and converted to a comparable regolith mining rate of kg/h. Beneficiation of the regolith before oxygen extraction is considered, and the effects of pre-sizing and removal of a specific component, agglutinates, are considered. The oxygen yield and operational availability are also included. It is estimated that the minimum mining rate to produce 1000 kg of oxygen per annum is at least five times higher than previous estimates, 30 kg/h, for equivalent efficiency assumptions.Monte-Carlo simulations were performed for statistical confidence in the estimates of the mining mass rate and the required oxygen extraction feedstock rate. To be 95% confident that the 1000 kg/y O2 will be met, the designed mining rate should be at least 65 kg/h, and the beneficiated feedstock rate 16 kg/h.This study has revised and increased the estimate of the lunar regolith mining scale required for the production of a given amount of oxygen. It has also estimated the mass rate of feedstock required for oxygen extraction, if the regolith is first beneficiated.The findings have a significant impact on the practical implementation of lunar mining and oxygen extraction, particularly the process des

Journal article

Harrison STL, Kotsiopoulos A, Stevenson R, Cilliers JJet al., 2020, Mixing indices allow scale-up of stirred tank slurry reactor conditions for equivalent homogeneity, CHEMICAL ENGINEERING RESEARCH & DESIGN, Vol: 153, Pages: 865-874, ISSN: 0263-8762

Journal article

Fernando F, Cilliers J, Brito Parada PR, 2019, An integrated constrained fuzzy stochastic analytic hierarchy process method with application to the choice problem, Expert Systems with Applications, Vol: 138, Pages: 1-25, ISSN: 0957-4174

The ability of the analytical hierarchy process (AHP) when applied to the choice problem in the context of group decision making under uncertainty has been often criticised. AHP is not able to fully capture the various opinions and the uncertainty associated with the lack of information. This work develops an integrated constrained fuzzy stochastic analytic hierarchy process (IC-FSAHP) method in order to deal with the aforementioned drawbacks. IC-FSAHP combines two existing fuzzy AHP (FAHP) methods and further extends its applicability by implementing stochastic simulations. A case study has been conducted in order to assess the ability of IC-FSAHP; the results showed that IC-FSAHP is able to capture the uncertainty and multiple DMs' opinions. This paper also discusses the effect that the number of DMs has in enhancing rank discrimination. Besides, the possibility of the occurrence of rank reversal because of the use of IC-FSAHP has been analysed. The results showed that the ranking of alternatives was preserved throughout the changes in the number of alternatives, however, rank reversal occurred in the case of changes in judgements scales. By comparing the U-uncertainty in fuzzy global priorities obtained using IC-FSAHP to that obtained using an existing FSAHP method, we show that our method is capable of minimising the risk of losing important knowledge during the computations. We also discuss how IC-FSAHP can decrease the uncertainty and increase the reliability of the decisions by means of robust computations.

Journal article

Rasera JN, Cilliers JJ, Lamamy JA, Hadler Ket al., 2019, The beneficiation of lunar regolith using electrostatic separation for space resource utilisation, 70th International Astronautical Congress, ISSN: 0074-1795

Copyright © 2019 by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF). All rights reserved. Differences in the electrostatic properties of materials can be exploited for both the sizing and enrichment of minerals. In this study, the motion of silica particles falling through an electrostatic field was investigated to characterise a custom free-fall electrostatic separator. The motion was affected by varying the magnitude of the electrostatic field and the spacing of the electrodes. SiLibeads (spherical silica) were sized and tribocharged in a borosilicate glass beaker and fed into the separator. Fourteen electrostatic field strengths each generated at three different electrode spacings (75 mm, 150 mm, and 225 mm) were studied. The percentage of particles reporting to each electrode was measured. Analyses of the results indicate that the expected linear increase in the field strength does not increase proportionally the amount of material reporting to each electrode, indicating that additional underlying parameters must be characterised. Further, an analysis of the variance between the measurements indicates that there are almost no significant effects on the separator's operation due to changing either the field strength or electrode spacing. However, two statistically unique operating conditions were identified. The measurements collected at a field strength of 0.04 kV/mm with a 75-mm spacing were unique relative to other field strengths at that spacing and may indicate an optimal operating condition. Further, the data collected at each electrode spacing with a constant electric field strength of 0.06 kV/mm were also found to be unique. This implies that there may be a performance dependence on electrode spacing in addition to the field strength. Further analysis and experimentation are required to draw more detailed conclusions.

Conference paper

Wang P, Cilliers JJ, Neethling SJ, Brito-Parada PRet al., 2019, The behavior of rising bubbles covered by particles, Chemical Engineering Journal, Vol: 365, Pages: 111-120, ISSN: 1385-8947

A systematic investigation of the influence of particle coverage on the dynamics of rising bubbles was carried out using high-speed photography and image analysis techniques to study bubble behavior in terms of changes in velocity and aspect ratio. The buoyancy force and drag force exerted on the bubbles and the effect of particles were calculated to further understand their behavior. Results show that particles attached on the bubbles strongly dampen the oscillations observed in bubble aspect ratio and decrease its velocity and acceleration. The particles also render the bubbles more spherical and slow their velocity. It was found that the overall velocity of a bubble is directly correlated to its aspect ratio and inversely correlated to its particle coverage, while the acceleration and the aspect ratio and its change are inversely correlated. Interestingly, the trend observed in the oscillation and the oscillation period of particle-laden bubbles is similar for different levels of particle coating. A drag modification factor ηp, which quantifies the drag influence of particles on bubble velocity, was identified from force analysis. A modified drag coefficient for uncoated and particle-laden bubbles was introduced, which allows, for the first time, to predict the behavior of rising bubbles in gas-liquid-particle systems.

Journal article

Sitorous F, Cilliers JJ, Brito Parada PR, 2019, Multi-criteria decision making for the choice problem in mining and mineral processing: applications and trends, Expert Systems with Applications, Vol: 121, Pages: 393-417, ISSN: 0957-4174

Despite the fact that the potential of multi-criteria decision making (MCDM) to overcome a variety of problems in mining and mineral processing has been widely recognised, no literature review in these fields has been conducted. This manuscript addresses this issue by providing a comprehensive overview of the applications and trends of MCDM methods for the choice problem (i.e., determining the best option from a set) in mining and mineral processing. 90 articles published between 1999 and 2017 were selected following a searching methodology and eligibility criteria detailed in this manuscript. In addition, for the purpose of the survey, different types of selection problems were identified. The results show that there are two phases of growth in the application of MCDM techniques to the choice problem in mining and mineral processing. The first phase, from 1999 to 2007, shows a very low number of publications with only a moderate increase by the end, whereas the second phase, from 2007 to 2017, shows a significant growth in the number of published articles. The review also shows that the most addressed problem has been the selection of mining methods, while the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) has been the most used MCDM method. The rise in the application of hybrid MCDM methods is also discussed. This review paper provides insight into the current state of applications of MCDM in mining and mineral processing and discusses pathways for future research directions in the development of MCDM methods that would benefit these fields.

Journal article

Wang P, Cilliers JJ, Neethling SJ, Brito-Parada PRet al., 2019, Effect of particle size on the rising behavior of particle-laden bubbles, Langmuir, Vol: 35, Pages: 3680-3687, ISSN: 0743-7463

The rising behavior of bubbles, initially half and fully coated with glass beads of various sizes, was investigated. The bubble velocity, aspect ratio, and oscillation periods were determined using high-speed photography and image analysis. In addition, the acting forces, drag modification factor, and modified drag coefficient were calculated and interpreted. Results show that the aspect ratio oscillation of the rising bubbles is similar, irrespective of the attached particle size. As the particle size is increased, the rising bubbles have a lower velocity and aspect ratio amplitude, with the time from release to each aspect ratio peak increasing. Higher particle coverage is shown to decrease the bubble velocity and dampen the oscillations, reducing the number of aspect ratio peaks observed. The highest rise velocities correspond to the lowest aspect ratios and vice versa, whereas a constant aspect ratio yields a constant rise velocity, independent of the particle size. Force analysis shows that the particle drag modification factor increases with the increased particle size and is greatest for fully laden bubbles. The modified drag coefficient of particle-laden bubbles increases with the increased particle size, although it decreases with the increased Reynolds number independent of the particle size. The drag force exerted by the particles plays a more dominant role in decreasing bubble velocities as the particle size increases. The results and interpretation produced a quantitative description of the behavior of rising particle-laden bubbles and the development of correlations will enhance the modeling of industrial applications.

Journal article

Neethling SJ, Brito Parada P, Hadler K, Cilliers Jet al., 2019, The transition from first to zero order flotation kinetics and its implications for the efficiency of large flotation cells, Minerals Engineering, Vol: 132, Pages: 149-161, ISSN: 0892-6875

Flotation cells have traditionally been modelled using first order kinetics, often distributed over multiple floatable species. This description is valid as long as the kinetics are not restricted by the available bubble surface area. If this carrying capacity limit is approached, the behaviour will transition toward zero order kinetics with respect to the concentration of floatable species in the pulp, with this transition being associated with a significant degradation in performance. In this paper we develop a model which describes the transition from first to zero order kinetics. A dimensionless group is introduced, which is the ratio of the flotation rate under first order kinetics to the rate at maximum bubble carrying capacity. At values of this dimensionless group much less than 1 the kinetic equation reduces to the familiar k-Sb relationship, but with a progressive deviation away from first order kinetics as the value increases through 1, with zero order kinetics obtained for values of the dimensionless group much greater than one. This dimensionless group is a function of the cell size, being proportional to the ratio of the cell volume to its cross-sectional area.Since mechanical flotation cells continue to get larger, mainly due to the capital and operating cost benefits that they provide for a given residence time, the potential for deleterious zero order effects is likely to increase. This is also why zero order behaviour is virtually never encountered at the laboratory scale. The propensity for zero order kinetics also increases with both the floatability and concentration of floatable material in the pulp, as well as with the fineness of the grind. This means that cleaner cells are likely to be very susceptible to exhibiting zero order kinetics, while scavenger cells are likely to continue to exhibit first order kinetics for any foreseeable flotation cell size. The cell size at which zero order kinetics effects will degrade the performance of rougher

Journal article

Hadler K, Cilliers J, 2019, The effect of particles on surface tension and flotation froth stability, Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration, Vol: 36, Pages: 63-69, ISSN: 2524-3470

It is widely accepted that particles stabilise flotation froths and that stable froths result in improved flotation performance. Predicting the effect of particle addition on froth stability is, however, challenging. Dynamic surface tension measurement using maximum bubble pressure presents an attractive technique to investigate the effect of surfactant and particles at the air-water interface. The range of bubble lifetimes that can be studied (typically 0.1 to 60 s) is analogous to variations in air rate in flotation cells, and the corresponding changes in surface tension give an indication to the diffusion and adsorption rates of particles at the interface. In this paper, we use dynamic surface tension measurements to investigate the effect of particles on bubble surfaces at the microscale and link this to bulk froth stability measurements carried out using a froth column. Using the maximum bubble pressure method, the results show that the addition of particles results in lower surface tension, both at the dynamic (i.e. short) bubble lifetimes and towards equilibrium (i.e. 60 s bubble lifetime). This corresponds with the bulk froth stability measurements, where the three-phase system yielded more stable froths than the surfactant only system. Furthermore, increased particle loading at the air-water interface, whether through higher surfactant concentrations or lower air rates (longer bubble lifetimes), gave lower surface tension and higher froth stability. This demonstrates the link between bubble loading and froth stability. It is proposed that the maximum bubble pressure technique can be used to predict froth stability for two- and three-phase systems, enabling the effect of particle loading to be accounted for and quantified. Moreover, the technique has the potential to allow rapid determination of particle and surfactant diffusion at the air-water interface and prediction of the corresponding effect on bulk froth behaviour.

Journal article

Cilliers JJ, Harrison STL, 2019, Yeast flocculation aids the performance of yeast dewatering using mini-hydrocyclones, SEPARATION AND PURIFICATION TECHNOLOGY, Vol: 209, Pages: 159-163, ISSN: 1383-5866

Journal article

Reyes F, Cilliers JJ, Neethling SJ, 2019, Quantifying mineral liberation by grade and surface exposure using X-ray micro-tomography for flotation processes, Pages: 3985-3994

Liberation is a key driver in all mineral separation processes as it limits the maximum possible grade for a given recovery. In flotation, this is further complicated by the fact that it is surface exposure of the floatable minerals that determines the ultimate performance. Liberation, grade and surface exposure are commonly quantified using Scanning Electron Microscopy coupled to Energy Dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM/EDX) analysis of polished sections. The intrinsically 2D nature of this technique can result in significant sampling errors and stereological effects that can affect the quantification of the ore's textural characteristics. X-ray micro-Tomography (XMT) is an imaging method that can non-invasively and non-destructively delineate ore fragments in 3D, thus providing an alternative method that eliminates the need for stereological corrections and readily provides surface exposure. A methodology and automated algorithm were designed for extracting this information from images of closely packed particles, thus allowing samples containing a large number of particles to be assessed. The main drawback of XMT is that, unlike SEM/EDX, it cannot directly measure the mineralogy of the sample, instead producing a 3D X-ray attenuation map. We therefore also present an algorithm for calibrating the thresholding of the XMT images based on SEM/EDX images of sections through the same sample, thus allowing the liberation analysis to be carried out on a 3D mineral map in which the uncertainty in the mineral assignment is small and statistically quantified. The methodology was tested on low grade porphyry copper ore as this is both an industrially relevant and traditionally difficult system to quantify using XMT due to the similarity in the X-ray attenuation of the sulphide species, especially the pyrite and chalcopyrite. As each 3D volume imaged contain 100-1000s of grains, large data sets can be readily produced. By dividing these particles into classes based on both

Conference paper

Mackay I, Cilliers JJ, Videla AR, Brito-Parada PRet al., 2019, Optimising froth stability of copper flotation tailings, Pages: 1730-1738

Linking results from laboratory scale experiments to industrial flotation behaviour is challenging. Typically, such experiments involve batch tests in which the system does not operate at steady-state, making it difficult to infer the effects that operating conditions have on flotation performance. In order to overcome this limitation a 4-litre recirculating tank was previously developed at Imperial College London. This tank is capable of reaching, and operating at, steady-state by recycling overflowing concentrate back into the feed. As well as instruments to control operating conditions, it is fitted with a system of sensors that allow the surface of the froth to be dynamically monitored. From this information, it is possible to measure the air recovery-a proxy for froth stability. Thus, this bench-scale tank can be used to understand the effect of differing operating conditions on flotation performance at steady state. However, so far, this cell has only been used to investigate idealised systems with only one or two species. Reprocessing of tailings dams is not only environmentally desirable but also increasingly economically feasible due to the declining head grades of primary deposits. There is also the added benefit of no further milling being required prior to flotation. However, the effects of fine and ultrafine particles on froth stability are not yet fully understood. In this work, the bench-scale continuous tank has been used for the first time to determine the flotation response of a complex feed, consisting of samples from a copper tailings dam, to changes in operating conditions. It was shown that the froth stability in the system is comparable to that of previous work and industrial tests, with a peak in air recovery being found at a superficial gas velocity of 1.13 cm/s. There is scope to optimise the froth stability of tailings flotation for enhanced metallurgical performance.

Conference paper

Morrison A, Brito-Parada P, Cilliers J, 2019, Developing a design modification for improved froth flotation performance through minimising turbulence at the pulp-froth interface, Pages: 1739-1747

The separation of valuable and gangue minerals according to their surface hydrophobicity in a froth flotation tank occurs in both its pulp and froth phases. In the pulp phase, hydrophobic particles must be brought into contact with rising bubbles introduced at or near the bottom of the tank. In a mechanical froth flotation tank, this is primarily achieved through the agitation of the pulp by an impeller or by a rotor-stator system. However, the turbulent and mixing effects of such an impeller or rotor-stator system, necessary to promote bubble-particle interactions in the pulp, are not confined to the pulp zone, but are transmitted into the froth zone at the pulp-froth interface. This impeller-induced turbulence at the pulp-froth interface is compounded by the impulse of buoyant bubbles entering the base of the froth phase, reducing the stability, and thus separation performance, of the resulting froth. Hence, turbulence improves separation performance if it occurs deep in the pulp phase, but diminishes it if it occurs close to the pulp-froth interface. For this work, a performance-enhancing pulp phase insert was designed to isolate the impeller-induced turbulence from the pulp-froth interface in a laboratory-scale, continuously-operated froth flotation tank. The result was a shifted grade-recovery curve that allows the insert to be designed to maximize the recovery from the system without sacrificing the grade of the concentrate, or vice versa, along a spectrum of improved performance. This paper will present the insert design and development process that resulted in this improved grade-recovery curve, as well as a set of heuristics that could be used to design a similar insert for pilot- and industrial-scale validation and deployment.

Conference paper

Vega D, Brito-Parada PR, Cilliers JJ, 2019, Small hydrocyclones for classiffication of particles in the micron range, Pages: 2398-2405

Small diameter (10 mm) hydrocyclones have been applied successfully for the separation of particle suspensions in the micron size range. These hydrocyclones are attractive because they show a bypass fraction larger that the water recovery, resulting in a high particle recovery to the underflow as well as low water recovery. However, this is a disadvantage when the purpose of the hydrocyclone is classification because of the large amount of fine particles that are misplaced in the underflow. The aim of this study is to explore, experimentally and computationally, the influence of design parameters on the classification process. In this work, a full factorial experimental design was defined to carry out comprehensive experimental tests using glass beads (0-20 µm) as the particulate system. We show that the dimensions of spigot and vortex finder diameter can be effectively manipulated to change the separation performance of the system and the energy consumption. A CFD model was developed that is able to predict particle size distribution. The numerical results for the partition curves showed very good agreement with the experimental data.

Conference paper

Reyes F, Cilliers JJ, Neethling SJ, 2019, Quantifying mineral liberation by grade and surface exposure using X-ray micro-tomography for flotation processes, Pages: 1570-1579

Liberation is a key driver in all mineral separation processes as it limits the maximum possible grade for a given recovery. In flotation, this is further complicated by the fact that it is surface exposure of the floatable minerals that determines the ultimate performance. Liberation, grade and surface exposure are commonly quantified using Scanning Electron Microscopy coupled to Energy Dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM/EDX) analysis of polished sections. The intrinsically 2D nature of this technique can result in significant sampling errors and stereological effects that can affect the quantification of the ore's textural characteristics. X-ray micro-Tomography (XMT) is an imaging method that can non-invasively and non-destructively delineate ore fragments in 3D, thus providing an alternative method that eliminates the need for stereological corrections and readily provides surface exposure. A methodology and automated algorithm were designed for extracting this information from images of closely packed particles, thus allowing samples containing a large number of particles to be assessed. The main drawback of XMT is that, unlike SEM/EDX, it cannot directly measure the mineralogy of the sample, instead producing a 3D X-ray attenuation map. We therefore also present an algorithm for calibrating the thresholding of the XMT images based on SEM/EDX images of sections through the same sample, thus allowing the liberation analysis to be carried out on a 3D mineral map in which the uncertainty in the mineral assignment is small and statistically quantified. The methodology was tested on low grade porphyry copper ore as this is both an industrially relevant and traditionally difficult system to quantify using XMT due to the similarity in the X-ray attenuation of the sulphide species, especially the pyrite and chalcopyrite. As each 3D volume imaged contain 100-1000s of grains, large data sets can be readily produced. By dividing these particles into classes based on both

Conference paper

Cilliers J, Hutahaean J, Brito Parada PR, 2018, A multi‐criteria decision framework for the selection of biomass separation equipment, Chemical Engineering and Technology, Vol: 41, Pages: 2346-2357, ISSN: 0930-7516

For the first time, a two‐stage decision support framework for equipment selection, applied to biomass separation, is presented. In the first stage, the framework evaluates from a number of equipment based on the process requirements and outputs only those that offer a technically feasible separation. In the second stage, the analytic hierarchy process is applied for performing a multicriteria decision analysis to select amongst the feasible equipment based on separation performance and energy consumption criteria. This approach systematically considers the relative importance of those different alternatives and selection criteria by pairwise comparisons. The output of the framework is an overall ranking of equipment as well as a sensitivity analysis of the results for different weighting of the criteria. These results can be used to equip practitioners in the field of bioseparations with a tool for making more consistent and better‐informed equipment selection decisions.

Journal article

Brito Parada P, Dewes R, Vega Garcia D, Cilliers Jet al., 2018, The influence of design parameters on the separation of biomass in mini-hydrocyclones, Chemical Engineering and Technology, Vol: 41, Pages: 2323-2330, ISSN: 0930-7516

Small hydrocyclones are an attractive technology for biomass separation from fermentation processes. The interactive effect of design parameters on the performance of mini‐hydrocyclones is, however, not fully explored and studies are often limited by the challenges in manufacturing such small units. Here, 10‐mm mini‐hydrocyclones are produced by 3D printing and the impact of spigot diameter, vortex finder diameter and height on separation performance is studied. A central composite rotatable design was adopted to obtain information on the relation between the variables and their influence on concentration ratio and recovery of yeast from a highly diluted system. A Pareto front for separation performance was generated and shown to be suitable to select an optimal design for a set of process constraints.

Journal article

Vega-Garcia D, Brito Parada P, Cilliers JJ, 2018, Optimising small hydrocyclone design using 3D printing and CFD simulations, Chemical Engineering Journal, Vol: 350, Pages: 653-659, ISSN: 1385-8947

The use of small hydrocyclones for the separation of particles in the micron range is of growing interest. However, these hydrocyclones are typically limited to conventional shapes or restricted to specific outlet sizes, which can lead to sub-optimal performance. The aim of this study is to present a method for the optimisation of small hydrocyclone design. This method consists of four steps that combine designing, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations, 3D printing and experimental testing. A 3D printed 10 mm hydrocyclone was shown first to match the performance of a ceramic equivalent, followed by factorial experiments with a set of printed hydrocyclones of different spigot and vortex finder diameters. A CFD model for small hydrocyclones was implemented and, following validation with the experimental data, used to simulate small hydrocyclone designs with parabolic walls. The model predicted improved separation performance compared to the conventional conic wall designs. In a novel development, a 10 mm hydrocyclone with parabolic walls was 3D printed and the prediction confirmed experimentally. The solids recovery and concentration ratio were increased by 10 percentage points and 0.2, respectively, for a 0.5 g/L yeast suspension and at an equivalent pressure drop. The use of 3D printing to manufacture small hydrocyclones of various designs has been proven in this study to be practical and to allow rapid prototyping design informed by CFD simulations. This is a significant improvement in the cost, time and versatility associated to hydrocyclone design and can lead to enhanced separation performance.

Journal article

Reyes F, Lin Q, Cilliers JJ, Neethling SJet al., 2018, Quantifying mineral liberation by particle grade and surface exposure using X-ray microCT, Minerals Engineering, Vol: 125, Pages: 75-82, ISSN: 0892-6875

Liberation is a key driver in all mineral separation processes as it limits the maximum possible grade for a given recovery. In flotation, this is further complicated by the fact that it is surface exposure of the floatable minerals that determines the ultimate performance. Liberation, grade and surface exposure are commonly quantified using Scanning Electron Microscopy coupled to Energy Dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM/EDX) analysis of polished sections. The intrinsically 2D nature of this technique can result in significant sampling errors and stereological effects that can affect the quantification of the ore's textural characteristics. X-ray microCT (XMT) is an imaging method that can non-invasively and non-destructively delineate ore fragments in 3D, thus providing an alternative method that eliminates the need for stereological corrections and readily provides surface exposure. A methodology and automated algorithm were developed for extracting this information from images of closely packed particles. By dividing these particles into classes based on both their surface exposure and grade, the extent to which there is preferential breakage of the particles can be assessed—an important consideration if sufficient surface liberation for good flotation performance is to be achieved at coarser particle sizes. Using low energy scanning simple 3D mineral maps can be obtained via XMT, allowing for the assessment of liberation and surface exposure for each mineral species. The methodology was tested on low grade porphyry copper ore as this is representative of the most commonly treated ore types for copper production.

Journal article

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