Bringing order to chaotic bubbles can make mining more sustainable

This article from Science Daily written by Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science

A new way to control the motion of bubbles from researchers at Columbia Engineering might one day help separate useful metals from useless dirt using much less energy and water than is currently needed.

When mining for metals such as the copper used in most electronics and the lithium used in many batteries, only a small fraction of the material that is mined is useful metal, with the vast majority just useless dirt-like particles.

“We have to separate the useful metals from the useless particles, and we do this by blowing air bubbles up through them,” said Chris Boyce, assistant professor of chemical engineering at Columbia Engineering. However, “this process utilizes a large amount of energy and water, causing climate change and water shortages, thus creating problems we are trying to prevent. We have this issue in part because we currently cannot control the motion of these bubbles.”

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Source: Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science. “Bringing order to chaotic bubbles can make mining more sustainable: A new technique can structure bubbles by vibrating particles.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 August 2021. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/08/210823151028.htm>.

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