Since the introduction of the flotation process to the concentration of minerals, great advances have been made in the scope of its application and the efficiency of the separations performed. Perhaps the most significant have been seen in the development or application of many different chemical compounds which offer considerable selectivity. To a lesser extent, machines which are capable of treating larger tonnages, again with greater selectivity, have been designed.
However, the advances in the physical aspects of the process have been based largely on trial-and-error and it is only in recent years that attention has been directed to "process analysis" - the development of mathematical models that describe the flotation process in terms of parameters the magnitudes of which may be determined.
There is little doubt that the development of such mathematical models would be a major advance in flotation technology, enabling the quantity and quality of the products of any process, whether it be a single cell or a complex circuit, to be predicted from data defining the feed and the process variables. Such models are widely used in the processing of liquids and gases, but their development in the field of flotation is only, in its infancy.