The design of baffles to reduce axial mixing in flotation columns

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 86, No. 968, 1993

M.H. Moys, University of the Witwatersrand, J.A. Engelbrecht and A.N. Terblanche, Multotec Cyclones, Johannesburg, South Africa

Large-diameter flotation columns are subject to severe axial mixing which has reduced column recovery and has generally limited it to cleaner applications. It has been assumed that columns with diameter greater than 1 m should be baffled to reduce axial mixing, but little work has been reported quantifying the effectiveness of baffling. Tests were done on a 0.2m by 2m column fitted with baffles of different geometry. It was generally found that the inclusion of baffles in the column worsened rather than improved mixing conditions in the column. This is explained in terms of a model for the effect of poor gas distribution on the behaviour of the column; this showed that under typical conditions a 16% excess of gas flux in the one compartment of a two-compartment column could result in one of the compartments being "dead" (i.e. with no net flow of slurry through it), resulting in a substantial loss of performance. The quality of mixing in the laboratory column was only reliably improved when the baffle was raised so that its top was positioned above the froth-slurry interface level. It should be possible to increase column recovery substantially with this configuration. The improved residence time distribution also means that columns can be used more effectively in roughing and scavenging applications.
Mots Clés: Column flotation, Mineral processing, Flotation.