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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Molecular weight effects in guar gum adsorption and depression of talc Garcia Vidal, Claudio Andres


The effect of the molecular weight of guar gum on adsorption, talc depression, and stability of talc suspensions was studied. Four guar gum samples of different molecular weights in the range from 0.162 MDa to 1.4 MDa were used. It was also found that the intrinsic viscosities of the guar gum samples were independent of the type of background solution (NaCl, KCl, distilled water). The adsorption density of the tested guar gum samples on talc was measured from the same background solutions at pH 9. The floatability of fine talc particles as well as their stability towards aggregation in the presence of guar gum were simultaneously determined so a direct relationship between talc depression and talc flocculation/dispersion by guar gum could be established. It was found that the effect of the molecular weight of guar gum on the adsorption density was negligible. No effect of the background electrolyte on guar gum adsorption was observed. All four guar gum samples were found to be equally strong depressants of talc flotation without any clear relationship with their molecular weights. It was determined that an adsorption density equal to about 20% of the complete surface coverage was sufficient to completely depress talc floatability. All guar gum samples also exhibited strong flocculating capabilities towards the talc particles at lower polymer dosages. As determined from turbidity data, higher molecular weight guar gum samples were more powerful flocculants than lower molecular samples. Most importantly, the strongest depression of talc flotation and the most pronounced flocculation of talc were found to occur at the same dosage. Higher doses of the polymers kept the talc particles completely depressed while simultaneously causing gradual steric redispersion of the mineral. The dispersing capabilities of the polymers were a function of the molecular weight, with the lower molecular weight samples bringing about stronger dispersion than higher molecular weight samples. It was concluded that a high molecular weight guar gum would be the best depressant, since such a polymer would strongly depress the flotation of talc while minimizing talc dispersion and subsequent mechanical entrainment in the flotation concentrate.

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