Title

Improving Efficiency and Safety of Mineral Separation Methods for the Minerals Apatite and Zircon

Presenter Information

Brittany Fagin
Ashley Edwards

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Ballroom A

Start Date

17-5-2012

End Date

17-5-2012

Abstract

Mineral separations concentrate the heavy minerals apatite and zircon necessary to accurately date rock samples, but current methods are time-consuming, toxic, expensive, and have unknown yield efficiencies. To evaluate and improve separation methods, we processed test samples with a new procedure using a spiral panning table (panner) to wash and pre-concentrate heavy minerals before magnetic and lithium polytungstate (LST) heavy liquid separations. Our control sample was hand washed, separated magnetically, and processed with LST. Panner trial #1 used a fast sample feed rate and slow rotation speed, resulting in 11 mg heavy minerals. Our yield was approximately doubled in trial #2 using a slow sample feed rate. Jet Dry® was used in trial #3 to cut surface tension, but yielded less than trial #2. Last, trial #4 used a fast rotation speed and a fast feed rate, which produced the highest yield of 38 mg heavy minerals. Compared with our expected yield (~5000 mg), yields from control (~800 mg) and panner (11-38 mg) were much less. However, the panner yielded 10x the concentration of the denser zircon than the control, so toxic methylene iodide was not needed to separate apatite from zircon, which makes our protocol safer than current methods. Our experimental process took ~2.5 hours per sample, compared to ~47 hours in the control, to complete. The greater speed, improved zircon concentration, and avoidance of toxic liquids are significant advantages of the new method, and further development should improve recovery efficiency.

Poster Number

5

Faculty Mentor(s)

Chris Mattinson

Additional Mentoring Department

Geological Sciences

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May 17th, 2:00 PM May 17th, 4:30 PM

Improving Efficiency and Safety of Mineral Separation Methods for the Minerals Apatite and Zircon

SURC Ballroom A

Mineral separations concentrate the heavy minerals apatite and zircon necessary to accurately date rock samples, but current methods are time-consuming, toxic, expensive, and have unknown yield efficiencies. To evaluate and improve separation methods, we processed test samples with a new procedure using a spiral panning table (panner) to wash and pre-concentrate heavy minerals before magnetic and lithium polytungstate (LST) heavy liquid separations. Our control sample was hand washed, separated magnetically, and processed with LST. Panner trial #1 used a fast sample feed rate and slow rotation speed, resulting in 11 mg heavy minerals. Our yield was approximately doubled in trial #2 using a slow sample feed rate. Jet Dry® was used in trial #3 to cut surface tension, but yielded less than trial #2. Last, trial #4 used a fast rotation speed and a fast feed rate, which produced the highest yield of 38 mg heavy minerals. Compared with our expected yield (~5000 mg), yields from control (~800 mg) and panner (11-38 mg) were much less. However, the panner yielded 10x the concentration of the denser zircon than the control, so toxic methylene iodide was not needed to separate apatite from zircon, which makes our protocol safer than current methods. Our experimental process took ~2.5 hours per sample, compared to ~47 hours in the control, to complete. The greater speed, improved zircon concentration, and avoidance of toxic liquids are significant advantages of the new method, and further development should improve recovery efficiency.