Studies have shown that using organic coated bubbles (“oily” bubbles) could increase bitumen recovery rate in flotation. One way to coat bubbles is that used in the air-assisted solvent extraction process where solvent foam is formed and injected through a capillary to release solvent coated bubbles in a controlled manner into the aqueous system. To investigate adapting this approach, the foaming properties of some organics (Hexane, Heptane, Hexadecane, Petroleum Ether, Toluene, Benzene and Kerosene and their binary mixtures) of potential interest in oily bubble bitumen flotation were investigated. Silicone oil was found to be a good foaming agent in some cases. Bubble stability and film thickness experiments were carried out to help select candidate organics. Surface tension and dynamic viscosity measurements were conducted to examine the mechanism of foaming. Attachment studies showed that droplets of the selected organics readily attached to a bitumen surface compared to air bubbles. From a combination of criteria, 25:75 Hexadecane/Heptane appears to be a promising candidate.
International Journal of Mineral Processing Vol. 90, Issue 1-4, p. 90-96