Application of Supercritical Fluids to Mineral Processing: An Overview

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 7
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1991
Supercritical fluids are gases compressed to near liquid densities and, as such, have unique properties compared to liquids: low viscosity; zero latent heat; high diffusivity and pressure-dependent, solvation characteristics. These properties are being utilised in new processes and current research is delineating areas where such processes may be applicable to extractive metallurgy. The processes and areas of interest are as follows: Supercritical Fluid Extraction in which substrates are dissolved at high pressure and fractionated at successively lower pressures. Areas of interest include extraction of organic materials for regeneration of activated carbon for the CIP process and for upgrading alumina industry products and, separation of transition metal chlorides. ò Supercritical Water Oxidation in which high pressure gaseous water acts as a medium in which substrates are oxidised while suspended or dissolved. This process may be of use for oxidation of organics in Bayer liquor and oxidation of mine waters etc. ò Supercritical Fluid Reactions where reactions occur in a supercritical fluid medium, particularly when the medium itself is a reactant. This may be of use in treating refractory or carbon-aqueous auriferous ores and in lower-temperature chlorination of transition metal oxides. Research is described which is aimed at chlorination and separation of transition metal oxides by two supercritical operations.
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