Effects of crystal chemistry on sodium oleate adsorption on fluorite surface investigated by molecular dynamics simulation

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Journal Article
Minerals Engineering, 2018, 124 pp. 77 - 85
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© 2018 Elsevier Ltd The surface properties of minerals are governed by the crystal chemistry of their cleaved and exposed surfaces, which will vary with the reduction of particle size under mechanical crushing or grinding. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations were used to study the adsorption conformations and interaction energies of sodium oleate (NaOL) on different fluorite (CaF2) surfaces in an explicit solution system. Three fluorite crystal planes, namely, the (1 1 1) surface, the (1 1 0) surface and the (3 1 1) surface, were considered. Anisotropic surface energies and broken bond densities were calculated based on density function theory (DFT) to confirm the cleavage plane of fluorite and to investigate the crystal-chemical characteristics of fluorite crystal planes. It was demonstrated that NaOL preferentially combined in a bridged ring complex configuration with the most stable plane of fluorite, the (1 1 1) surface, which bears a Ca┄F broken bond density of 100%. The exposure of the (1 1 0) surface of fluorite limited its flotation response to NaOL collectors, as this surface exhibited a lower affinity for NaOL, agreeing well with the results of the fluorite flotation experiments performed with different size distributions. The anisotropy of fluorite with different size fractions was further verified by X-ray diffraction (XRD) analyses. The findings in this work suggest that the flotability of fluorite could be further improved if a selective grinding process is applied to favour the exposure of the (1 1 1) surface.
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