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Study of surface phenomena in flotation: new methods and reagents

The most essential part of the studies in the frame of the project SURFINFLOT was concerned with evaluation and development of methods on the basis of known spectroscopic and scanning microscopic techniques such as x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) and atomic force microscopy (ATM), enabling the analysis of species on mineral samples at a very high level of surface sensitivity (preferably single monolayers) and under conditions closely corresponding those prevailing in the actual flotation process. The applicability of the developed and adapted analytical tools was proven investigating chosen systems of pure sulphide mineral surfaces, after adsorption of representatives of a new class of collector reagents producing chelate complexes with the metal ions of the mineral. Comparing new collectors in standard flotation experiments with conventional xanthates, it has been found that the maximum recovery is obtained in neutral pH range at concentrations 5 to 10 times lower than for xanthates. The affinity of collector derivatives increases with the increase of the carbon number in the chain of the substituent and decreases with the presence of the ether oxygen in the chain. The basic innovative aspect of the development work carried out in this project is a combination of the interpretative power of an up-to-date surface analysing method, synchrotron radiation excited photoelectron spectroscopy (SRXPS) with an optimized sample preparation (under controlled potential and prescribed combination of minerals and liquid solution) and handling during the analysis (quick freezing under oxygen-lean atmosphere), resulting in a sample closely corresponding to the conditions of real industrial flotation. The present results are the only direct application of SRXPS to flotation research so far.

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Universität Leipzig
Linnéstraße 2
04103 Leipzig
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