Electrostatic Separation as a Characterizing Tool for the Insulation of Conductive Mineral Particles
Journal of Minerals and Materials Characterization and Engineering
This work deals with a non-conventional use of a drum-type electrostatic separator. Indeed, the electrostatic separation process is used as a tool to evaluate the efficiency of different formulations of insulating coatings surrounding coarse and irregular conducting mineral particles. Our analysis is based on the change of the particle's distribution in the conductive and the non-conductive pans after the electrostatic separation process. Different coating formulations were tested and we found
... hat only hydrophobic components have to be used and that a composite formulation must be considered to sufficiently increase the coating thickness. Viscous hydrophobic oil combined with talc is a particularly relevant coating formulation for insulating hematite or ilmenite particles. The viscosity of the binder plays a crucial role as it guarantees the necessary cohesion of the coating itself. To evaluate the required thickness to obtain efficient insulating capabilities for the coating surrounding coarse and irregular mineral particles, we linked the experimental volume ratio between the coating and the particles and the theoretical ratio. The experimental volume ratio is calculated using the weights of all the materials used and their respective densities. Whereas, the theoretical one is calculated using the volume the mineral particles would have, considering them all identical, spherical, with a smooth surface and the volume of the coating being uniform with the same thickness on each mineral particle. We found that an efficient insulating coating for hematite particles means a thickness of 9.5% of the average mineral radius, ranging from 125 µm to 1250 µm, resulting in an equivalent insulating thickness of about 48 µm for particles of around 1 mm in diameter. Interestingly, all results originate from the analysis of the change occurring in the particle's distribution in the different collecting pans of an electrostatic separator.