Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Mining Engineering

Committee Chair

Felicia F. Peng

Committee Co-Chair

Christopher Bise

Committee Member

Lian-Shin Lin

Committee Member

Yi Luo

Committee Member

Yunqing Zhang


Froth flotation is widely used in minerals industry. However, it is effective in a narrow size range, nominally 45--250 mum for coal and 10--150 mum for minerals. And the flotation performance of coal and minerals beyond this size range is not quite satisfactory. It is now recognized that the low-flotation efficiency of ultrafine particles is mainly due to the low probability of bubble-particle collision while the main reason for poor flotation recovery of coarse particles is the high probability of detachment of particles from the bubble surface.;Pico-nano bubbles refer to tiny bubbles smaller than 0.5 mum, which can be produced using ultrasonic or hydrodynamic cavitation method. A fundamental analysis has shown that pico-nano bubbles will serve as a secondary collector, bridging between hydrophobic particles and conventional sized bubbles, which can significantly improve the flotation recovery of hydrophobic particles by increasing the probability of collision and attachment and reducing the probability of detachment.;In order to obtain an optimal designed cavitation venturi tube for pico-nano bubbles' generation, different designs of cavitation venturi tubes were fabricated and tested in this study. The test results showed that maximum volume of pico-nano bubbles, 65% to 75%, and minimum mean pico-nano bubble size, 150 to 240 nm, were achieved at the medium ratio of the diameter of throat and outlet of the venturi tube (3 to 4), medium outlet angle (11°to 13°), high inlet angle (26° to 27°) and high ratio of the length of the throat and the diameter of throat (2.3 to 3).;The laboratory-scale coal flotation tests showed that, the combustible material recoveries for coarse fractions, -700+355 mum, and ultrafines fraction, -75 mum, were remarkably increased in the presence of pico-nano bubbles in coal flotation. The maximum combustible recovery of 85 to 90% and minimum clean coal ash of 9.5 to 11% were achieved from 29.6% ash content of Pittsburgh No. 8 seam coal. At a given flotation combustible material recovery, more than half of the collector can be saved by using pico-nano bubbles in the column flotation. The frother dosage was also reduced to half.;The laboratory-scale phosphate reverse flotation tests revealed that both the P2O5 grade and P2O5 recovery had been greatly improved in the presence of pico-nano bubbles. The column flotation using pico-nano bubble was capable of extending to float minus 75 mum and 355-700 mum particle size ranges much more effectively than column flotation with conventional sparger devices. The economic analysis performed in this study demonstrated that the application of pico-nano bubbles in both phosphate reverse flotation and coal flotation were economically feasible.