Laboratory Testing for Electrostatic Concentration Circuit Design

Lawver, J. E. ; Knoll, F. S. ; Taylor, J. B.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 24
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1986
Introduction Electrostatic separation is the selective sorting of solid species by means of utilizing forces acting on charged or polarized bodies under the influence of an electric field. Electrostatic separation is effected by adjusting those forces acting on particles due to the electric field as well as co-acting forces such as gravity or centrifugal forces so that the different species will have different trajectories at some predetermined time. Electrostatic separations can be broadly defined as being either electrophoretic or dielectrophoretic. Electrophoresis is the separation of charged particles in an electric field, whereas dielectrophoresis is the separation of neutral particles in an electric field1. Examples of an electrophoretic separation can be found with sepa¬rations that use corona charging (ion bombardment), contact charging (triboelectric) and conductive induction. Dielectrophoresis motions are due to the stress and repositioning of charges, i.e. polarization of a neutral particle when exposed to a non-uniform electric field. Separations made using corona discharge devices are often called high-tension, electrodynamic or ion bombardment separations. These are the most prevalent in use today in mineral processing. Dielectrophoretic separation of most minerals is based on differences in dielectric constants of the solid species and usually requires the use of expensive intermediate dielectric fluids. Dielectrophoresis has not been employed for industrial mineral separations, though its effects pose interesting possibilities1, and pilot-plant units developed by the U.S.B.M. are available for testing2. Our discussion will be limited to the three forms of electrophoresis found in commercial practice. Typical Industrial Separations Typical industrial applications of electrostatic separation are: 1. Dry concentration of heavy minerals: ilmenite, rutile, zircon, monazite, xenotime, columbite-tantalite, cassiterite, hematite, scheelite and others. 2. Separation of salts: halite-sylvite, etc. 3. Purifications of foodstuffs such as the removal of impurities and
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