EMU Volume 9 – Chapter 4

Chapter 4: Particle size and shape characterization: current technology and practice

J.R. Hart, Y. Zhu and E. Pirard

In the minerals industries, there is a frequent requirement to work with fine particulate matter, in the forms of powders, suspensions and granulates. The analysis and description of these particulates is an essential part of their processing and end-use; in particular, the characterization of their size distribution and morphology is useful in predicting behaviour in key mineral processes, such as comminution, sedimentation, filtration, flotation, calcination or granulation. For many industrial mineral applications, particle size and shape are also key to the end-function, such as in abrasives (such as sandpaper) or paint additives (such as matting aids). In this chapter, a particle’s size and the size distributions of a particle population are defined, and the prevalent methods and mechanisms of measuring size are discussed. The strengths and weaknesses of inferring distributions from images, light scattering patterns, sedimentation rates, and cytometric counts are weighed, and advice given on which methods may best suit one’s circumstances. In addition, image-analysis methods, which give size but also shape indicators,are described briefly.

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