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Air-Sparged Hydrocyclone Flotation Technology for Efficient Recovery of Florida Phosphate Minerals



The most attractive advantage of air-sparged hydrocyclone (ASH), as a flotation device, is its high throughput (the amount of materials processed per unit volume), which could be up to 200 times greater than that offered by other flotation machines. High throughput translates to reduction in both capital and operating costs. Pilot-scale testing in both the lab and plant showed that ASH could achieve comparable or better metallurgical performance on a continuous basis. These tests also demonstrated that ASH may be more suitable for amine flotation. However, the air sparger, a porous tube and the key component of the ASH, started plugging by a crud after about ten days of operation. The crud contained organic reagents and clay minerals. Several different sparger designs as well as some cleaning techniques were tested without dramatic improvement. Perhaps the best chance for the ASH to succeed in phosphate is to replace the porous tube with an external sparger.