Microwave enhanced processing of ores

Kobusheshe, Joseph (2010) Microwave enhanced processing of ores. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Recent research developments have suggested that microwave assisted comminution could provide a step change in ore processing. This is based on the fact that microwave-absorbent phases within a multi-mineral ore can be selectively heated by microwave energy hence inducing internal stresses that create fracture.

A detailed review of existing literature revealed that little or no information is available which relates and examines the influence of hydrated minerals on microwave assisted fracture despite the fact that most important ores are associated with phyllosilicates, the vast majority of which are hydrated. A study was carried out on two Kimberlite diamond ores containing various types of hydrated minerals but devoid of any semiconducting minerals which are known to be good microwave heaters. The results confirmed that dehydration of minerals containing interlayer adsorbed water induces significant micro and macro fractures after microwave treatment.

The significance of microwave induced fracture on beneficiation was investigated by conducting liberation and flotation tests on two porphyry copper ores. It was demonstrated that microwave pre-treatment improves beneficiation at sizes suitable for flotation and that higher improvements in degree of liberation are attained in coarser particle sizes between 212 and 425 µm. Flotation tests demonstrated a potential for real economic benefits in terms of value proposition. An increase of 8-10% in copper sulphides recovery from coarse sized particles (-400+200 µm) and an overall increase in grade/recovery of between 1-2% was obtained. The results also showed that microwave pre-treatment enhances selective mineral recovery as the grade-recovery of iron sulphides decreased in all but one microwave treated samples.

The major drawback to further developments towards industrial scale application was found to be the lack of an effective continuous processing microwave applicator. Any future applicator designs must be able to ensure localised hot spots and confinement of all the microwave energy.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Kingman, S.
Robinson, J.
Subjects: T Technology > TN Mining engineering. Metallurgy
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering > Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering
Item ID: 11393
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2010 14:03
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2017 16:10
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/11393

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