While the global metal content in deposits decreases, more and more ores are characterized by valuable minerals that are finely distributed and bound in rather small particles (< 100 µm). For the raw materials industry, however, processing several billion tons of ore per year is becoming a major technical challenge.
Therefore, the Department of Processing is concerned with enhancing classical flotation techniques and at the same time develops holistic processing concepts in order to exploit the increasingly complex mineral resources such as complex ore deposits or tailings.
The department also utilizes innovative biological technologies by closely working together with the Biotechnology Department, which develops new methods for extracting and processing metals from primary and secondary resources using microorganisms as well as their metabolic products.
Oil-based Ultrafine Flotation
By using oil-based sorting methods, the Processing Department aims at increasing the separation efficiency of particle systems with a high amount of ultra-fine particles.
The entrainment of undesired ultrafine gangue particles into the froth reduces the quality of the flotation product. A new technology for the multidimensional separation of ultrafine particles is being investigated.
Precisely characterizing phase properties at microscopic scale, helps to improve the general understanding of interfacial phenomena. A better understanding will thus help to improve to control flotation processes.
The Processing Department investigates hydrodynamic processes with the goal to increase the collision frequency between bubbles and particles - especially the ultra-fine fractions – and thus to improve the beneficiation of valuable minerals.
On the basis of the geometallurgical approach empirical and fundamental models are being combined in order to produce appropriate predictive and flexible froth flotation simulations using particle as well as flotation information.