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Modelling and predicting flotation froth stability

Project Description

The performance of flotation cells is highly dependent on the behaviour of the froth phase. The phenomena taking place in the froth not only control the water that reports to the concentrate, and thus the entrainment of gangue material, but also have a significant impact on the overall recovery. Changes in bubble size due to coalescence of bubbles in the froth and the bursting of bubbles at the froth surface depend on a number of operating parameters, the relationship between which is complex and difficult to model and predict.

The Advanced Mineral Processing Research Group at Imperial College has developed mathematical models that link various aspects relevant to froth flotation performance. While these models are based on froth physics, they require froth stability parameters as inputs. For a given froth stability, defined in terms of the fraction of air that leaves the cell as unburst bubbles, the aforementioned models can predict liquid flowrate, entrainment and froth recovery. More recently, the group has also studied more closely the relationship between the bursting flux at the top of the froth and the air flux into the cell. The effect that many other important flotation variables have on froth stability is still to be formulated into models. Such models must also be validated using appropriate data, which is not usually readily available from industrial data nor is always measured at the lab scale.

The student will develop semi-empirical and theoretical models for bursting flux and the change in bubble size over the froth that take into account the effect of variables such as incoming bubble size, froth structure and froth depth. The models will be assessed and validated using a combination of plant data, both historical and obtained on an ad hoc basis, as well as laboratory data that will be generated using a flotation bench scale system that can be operated at steady state. The student will use a range of techniques to measure important parameters, such as the change in bubble loading over the froth and its coupling to the evolution of the bubble size distribution. The project will contribute to enhancing our ability to predict froth stability and hence improve flotation performance.


Informal enquiries can be addressed to Dr Pablo Brito-Parada () and Prof. Stephen Neethling ().

Application Web Page

Applications should be made via Imperial College London’s online system (details at

Funding Notes

*Applications will be considered as they are received, but we expect to interview selected potential candidates by 13/12/19. The successful candidate should be available to start in early 2019.

Please note there are strict eligibility criteria: applicants are required either to be UK/EU nationals or have settled status in the UK.

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