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Development of Test Procedures Based on Chaotic Advection for Assessing Polymer Performance in High-Solids Tailings Applications
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

Evaluation of a Novel Polymeric Flocculant for Enhanced Water Recovery of Mature Fine Tailings

1
Department of Chemical Engineering, Queen’s University, 19 Division St, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6, Canada
2
Applied Research Centre for Oil Sands Sustainability, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, 9413 20 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6N 1E5, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Processes 2020, 8(6), 735; https://doi.org/10.3390/pr8060735
Received: 11 June 2020 / Revised: 19 June 2020 / Accepted: 20 June 2020 / Published: 24 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design and Applications of Polymeric Flocculants)
The novel cationic flocculant, poly(lactic acid) choline iodide ester methacrylate (poly(PLA4ChMA)), has been shown to provide improved flocculation of 5.0 wt.% mature fine tailings (MFT) diluted in deionized water compared to commercial anionic polymers, with continued dewatering of the sediment occurring as the polymer undergoes partial hydrolytic degradation. However, the elevated dosages (10,000 ppm) required would make the polymer costly to implement on an industrial scale. With this motivation, the impact of MFT loading and the use of process water is explored while comparing the settling performance of poly(PLA4ChMA) to available commercial alternatives such as anionic FLOPAM A3338. Improved consolidation of 5.0 wt.% MFT diluted with process water could be achieved at reduced dosages (500 ppm) with poly(PLA4ChMA). However, the final compaction levels after polymer degradation were similar to those achieved with the nondegradable commercial flocculants. Flocculation-filtration experiments with undiluted MFT are also conducted to compare the performance of the polymers. Significantly faster rates of water release were observed with the cationic flocculants compared to FLOPAM A3338, but no improvement in the overall tailings compaction was found either before or after poly(PLA4ChMA) degradation. Thus, the improved dewatering observed with poly(PLA4ChMA) in dilute MFT suspensions does not extend to conditions that would be encountered in the field. View Full-Text
Keywords: cationic polymers; flocculation; mature fine tailings; hydrolytic degradation; flocculation-filtration cationic polymers; flocculation; mature fine tailings; hydrolytic degradation; flocculation-filtration
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MDPI and ACS Style

Lister, K.C.; Kaminsky, H.; Hutchinson, R.A. Evaluation of a Novel Polymeric Flocculant for Enhanced Water Recovery of Mature Fine Tailings. Processes 2020, 8, 735.

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