The wetting characteristics and water film stability at the talc surface have been studied, particularly the effect of polysaccharides such as guar gum, starch, and dextrin. Talc is a gangue mineral in the flotation of base metal sulfide ores, precious metal sulfide ores, and platinum group metal (PGM) sulfide ores. Talc surfaces were investigated using surface analysis techniques including atomic force microscopy, high-speed video bubble attachment measurements, and wetting film stability measurements using a synchronized tri-wavelength reflection interferometry microscope (STRIM). In the presence of polysaccharides, there is a significant increase in bubble attachment time at the talc surface, but only a slight change in contact angle, which suggests that polysaccharide depression of talc is due primarily to the slow rate of bubble attachment and not due to a change in contact angle. The critical rupture thickness (hc) for a hydrophobic talc surface was found to be 56 nm, while the hydrophilic phlogopite surface of similar structure has an equilibrium film thickness (he) of 25 nm. At low polysaccharide concentrations, the wetting films formed on the talc surfaces were unstable, but at high concentrations the wetting films became stable with similar thickness values as the critical rupture thickness, and bubble attachment did not occur. However, it was found that the critical and equilibrium film thickness values do not change significantly with the polysaccharide type or concentration. The results from this research help us understand further details of film rupture and displacement during bubble attachment.
Talc Polysaccharides Hydrophobicity Bubble attachment Film thickness
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Thanks go to Ms. Dorrie Spurlock for her assistance in the preparation of the manuscript.
This work was funded by the Division of Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences, Office of Basic Energy Sciences of the U.S. Department of Energy through Grant No. DE-FG03-93ER14315. We appreciate funding from Newmont USA, Ltd., which helped to support the research program.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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