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Development and Application of a Piezoelectric Sensor for Turbulence Measurement in Industrial Flotation Cells


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Author J Meng, E Tabosa, W Xie, K C Runge and P Holtham


Turbulence and its distribution are of great importance in flotation, and have received considerable attention recently. However, there is no mature technique to measure turbulence in three-phase (liquid-solid-gas) industrial flotation cells due to the opaque, highly aggressive and abrasive nature of the slurry involved. Previous research has shown that the piezoelectric vibration sensor (PVS) is a promising tool for turbulence measurement in industrial flotation cells. The PVS is a robust device that converts mechanical vibration to electrical signal, from which turbulence information can be extracted. An improved calibration method has allowed development of a frequency model to calculate the force applied to the sensor. Experimental results and comparison with laser doppler anemometry (LDA) have shown that the PVS can measure fluid kinetic energy, which is related to turbulent kinetic energy, a parameter used in the literature to represent turbulence in flotation. Laboratory measurement in a two-phase (water and air) 60 L cell and with slurry in a 3.5 L cell gave good stable results and mostly consistent trends between the measured turbulence profile and cell operation. When applied in a 300 m3 industrial cell filled with water, the addition of air or slurry to the cell resulted in a shift in the turbulence profile. This is expected because a change in fluid density will change the force applied to the sensor. It is therefore concluded that the piezoelectric sensor is an easy-to-use and robust technique that is fully capable of measuring turbulence in industrial flotation environments.


Meng, J, Tabosa, E, Xie, W, Runge, K C and Holtham, P,
2014. Development and application of a piezoelectric sensor for turbulence
measurement in industrial flotation cells, in Proceedings 12th AusIMM Mill
Operators’ Conference 2014
, pp 457–470 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).