Although iron pyrites and other minerals are removed from coal on an industrial scale almost exclusively by gravity separation methods at the present time, other beneficiation methods are coming into use. Among the developing methods, froth flotation (1,2,3) is the foremost, although the oil agglomeration method (4,5,6) is also promising. Both of these methods take advantage of the difference in surface properties of coal and inorganic mineral particles suspended in water to effect a separation. In the first method the hydrophobic coal particles are removed from the hydrophilic mineral particles by selective attachment to a mass of air bubbles, while in the second method the coal particles are selectively coated and agglomerated by fuel oil and then recovered by screening.
While gravity separation methods are well suited for removing coarse mineral particles from coal, they are generally ineffective for removing microscopic particles. On the other hand, both the froth flotation.
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