Ash and sulphur removal from bitumen using column flotation technique: Experimental and response surface methodology modeling

Document Type : Research Article


1 Chemical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Razi University, Kermanshah, Iran

2 Faculty of Chemistry, Razi University, Kermanshah 67149, Iran


This study investigates removing ash and pyrite sulphur from bitumen by column flotation process. Central composite design (CCD) of response surface methodology (RSM) was applied for modeling and optimization of the percentage of ash and pyrite sulphur removal from bitumen. The effects of five parameters namely the amounts of collector and frother agents, particle size, wash water rate and feed rate on percentage of ash and pyrite sulphur removal from bitumen were investigated. The used bitumen sample has 26.4% ash and sulphur content of 9.6% (6.81% in the pyrite sulphur form). All the tests were carried out under aeration rate of 4L/min and pulp containing 5% of solid using pine oil and kerosene as frother and collector agents, respectively. The coefficient of determination, R2, showed that the RSM model can specify the variations with the accuracy of 0.971 and 0.975 for ash and pyrite sulphur removal from bitumen, respectively, thus ensuring a satisfactory adjustment of the model with the experimental data. The RSM was used to optimize the process conditions, which showed that initial amount of collector of 2.00kg/tbitumen, amount of frother of 0.2ppm, particle size of 101.29mesh, wash water rate of 0.5L/min and feed rate 1.26L/min were the best conditions. Under the optimized conditions, the maximum percentage of ash and pyrite sulphur removal from bitumen was 88.74% and 90.89%, respectively.


[1] M. Erol, C. Colduroglu, Z. Aktas, The effect of reagents and reagent mixtures on froth flotation of coal fines, Int. J. Miner. Process. 71 (2003) 131–145.
[2] R.C. Timpe, M.D. Mann, J.H. Pavlish, P.K.K. Louie, Organic sulphur and hap removal from coal using hydrothermal treatment, Fuel Process. Technol. 73 (2001) 127–141.
[3] M. Abdollahy, A.Z. Moghaddam, K. Rami, Desulfurization of mezino coal using combination of flotation and leaching with potassium hydroxide/ methanol, Fuel 85 (2006) 1117–1124.
[4] M.S. Karen, B. John, A. Thomas, O. Donnell, G. David, Production of Ultra Clean Coal Part I Dissolution
behavior of mineral matter in black coal toward hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acids, Fuel Process. Technol.
70 (2001) 171–192.
[5] K.A. Clark, Temperature effects in the conditioning and flotation of bitumen from oil sands, in terms of
oil, Recovery and physical properties, Canadian Patent No. 289,058 (issued Apr. 23, 1929).
[6] L.L. Schramm, E.N. Stasiuk, D. Turner, The influence of interfacial tension in the recovery of bitumen by
water-based conditioning and flotation of Athabasca oil sands, Fuel Process. Technol. 80 (2003) 101–118.
[7] V. Wallwork, Z. Xu, J. Masliyah, Bitumen recovery with oily air bubbles, Ca. J. Chem. Eng. 81 (2003)
[8] A. Al-Otooma, M. Allawzi, A.M. Al-Harahsheh, M. Al-Harahsheh, R. Al-Ghbari, R. Al-Ghazo, H. Al-Saifi, A parametric study on the factors affecting the froth floatation of Jordanian tar sand utilizing a fluidized bed floatator, Energy 34 (2009) 1310–1314.
[9] J. Barraza, J. Piñeres, A pilot-scale flotation column to produce beneficiated coal fractions having high concentration
of vitrinite maceral, Fuel 84 (2005) 1879–1883.
[10] J. Piñeres, J. Barraza, Effect of pH, air velocity and frother concentration on combustible recovery, ash
and sulphur rejection using column flotation, Fuel Pro cess. Technol. 97 (2012) 30–37.
[11] X. Tao, Y. Cao, J. Liu, K. Shi, J. Liu, M. Fan-maomming, Studies on characteristics and flotation of a hard-to-float high-ash fine coal, Procedia Earth Planet. Sci. 1 (2009) 799–806.
[12] K.G. Ashiwani, P.K. Banerjee, A. Mishra, Influence of chemical parameters on selectivity and recovery of
fine coal through flotation, Int. J. Miner. Process. 92 (2009) 1–6.
[13] S.I. Angadi, J. Ho-Seok, S. Nikkam, Experimental analysis of solids and water flow to the coal flotation
froths, Int. J. Miner. Process. 110–111 (2011) 62–70.
[14] S. Dey, G. Manjari Paul, S. Pani, Flotation behavior of weathered coal in mechanical and column flotation
cell, Powder Technol. 246 (2013) 689–694.
[15] Y. Vasseghian, N. Heidari, M. Ahmadi, G.R. Zahedi, A.A. Mohsenipour, Simultaneous ash and sulphur
removal from bitumen: Experiments and neural network modeling, Fuel Process. Technol. 125 (2014) 79-85.
[16] H.M. Raymond, D.C. Montgomery, Response Surface Methodology: Process and Product Optimization
using Designed Experiment, second ed., A Wiley- Interscience Publication, Hoboken, 2002.
[17] D.C. Montgomery, Design and Analysis of Experiments, eighth ed., John Wiley and Sons, New York, 2012.
[18] J. Antony, Design of Experiments for Engineers and Scientists, second ed., Elsevier Science & Technology
Books, ISBN: 9780080994178, 2014.
[19] N.K. Pradyumna P. Reddy, N. M. Vibhuti, Interpretation of interaction effects and optimization of reagent dosages for fine coal flotation, Int. J. Miner. Process. 75 (2005) 83-90.
[20] M. S. Jena, S.K. Biswal, M.V. Rudramuniyappa, Study on flotation characteristics of oxidised Indian high ash sub-bituminous coal, Int. J. Miner. Process. 87 (2008) 42-50.
[21] F. Boylu, S.J. Laskowski, Rate of water transfer to flotation froth in the flotation of low-rank coal that also requires the use of oily collector, Int. J. Miner. Process. 83 (2007) 125-131.
[22] K. Ceylan, M. Zeki Küçük, Effectiveness of the dense medium and the froth flotation methods in cleaning some Turkish lignites, Energ. Convers. Manage. 45 (2004) 1407-1418.
[23] S. Mukherjee, P.C. Borthakur, Chemical demineralization/desulphurization of high sulphur coal using sodium hydroxide and acid solutions, Fuel 80 (2001) 2037- 2040.
[24] T.C. Rao, K.J. Pillai, M. Vanangamudi, 1982. Statistical analysis of coal flotation- a prelude to process optimization. IX International Coal Preparation Congress, New Delhi, 1982.
[25] J.R. Aston, J.E. Lane, T.W. Healy, The solution and interfacial chemistry of nonionic surfactants used 229–256.
[26] J.P. Maran, B. Priya, Ultrasound-assisted extraction of pectin from sisal waste, Carbohydr. Polym. 115 (2015) 732-738.