Biopolymer interactions with mineral surfaces
RMIT University team
- Professor Irene Yarovsky, Applied Physics, Team Leader
- Dr Piotr Kowalczyk, Applied Physics, Research Fellow
- Mr George Yiapanis, Applied Physics, PhD student
- Dr Andrew Hung, Applied Physics, Research Fellow
Academic collaboration with The University of Melbourne
- Professor David H. Solomon, School of Engineering, Team Leader
- A/Prof. Greg Qiao
Dr. Geoff Senior, BHP Billiton
Figure 1. A molecular dynamics snapshot of the adsorption state of a polysaccharide molecule at the talc basal plane surface.
Natural and modified polysaccharides, such as starch, dextrin, guar gum, and carboxymethyl cellulose, are widely used by the mineral industry as dispersants/flocculants and binders, and as selective depressants in froth flotation. However, the most demanding application of polysaccharides in the mineral industry is their use as selective depressants in froth flotation. In this process, the ground ores (i.e., nickel, copper, zinc, iron and others) that are composed of liberated mineral particles are dispersed in water and treated with various chemicals (flotation reagents), followed by the introduction of a stream of fine gas bubbles. Up to date, the general mechanism of polysaccharides adsorption from solution on mineral surfaces, such as talc, has not been established. The lack of clarity about the action of polysaccharides prevented an efficient and controllable separation of minerals from the ground ores.
In this project we investigate the mechanism of polysaccharides adsorption from solution on several mineral surfaces (i.e., talc, brucite, etc.). The understanding of the microscopic equilibrium structures of polysaccharides adsorbed on mineral surfaces will facilitate the design of novel synthetic polymers with higher separation efficiency.
Theoretical modelling techniques: classical molecular dynamic (MD), density functional theory (DFT).
- Computational Modelling of Polymer Compositions for Efficient Minerals Extraction, P. Kowalzcyk, G. Yiapanis, and I. Yarovsky, Research Report prepared for BHP Billiton, RMIT University, School of Applied Sciences, January 2010
- Biopolymer Interactions with Mineral Surfaces: a theoretical modeling study, P. Kowalzcyk, G. Yiapanis, A. Hung and I. Yarovsky, Research Report prepared for BHP Billiton, RMIT University, School of Applied Sciences, January 2009
- Kowalczyk, P., Yiapanis, G., Senior, G., Yarovsky, I., Molecular dynamics of polysaccharides in water and near mineral surfaces, Abstract, in 30th Australasian Polymer Symposium, page 395-396 (Melbourne, Australia, 2008).