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Langmuir. 2004 May 11;20(10):3984-94.

A computer modeling study of the competitive adsorption of water and organic surfactants at surfaces of the mineral scheelite.

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Department of Chemistry, University College London, 20 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0AJ, United Kingdom.

Erratum in

  • Langmuir. 2012 Aug 21;28(33):12423.


Atomistic computer simulation techniques were employed to investigate the interaction of a selection of organic surfactant molecules with a range of scheelite surfaces. The adsorbates coordinate mainly to the surfaces through interaction between their oxygen (or nitrogen) atoms to surface calcium ions, followed by hydrogen-bonded interactions to surface oxygen ions. Bridging between two surface calcium ions is the preferred mode of adsorption, but a bidentate interaction by two adsorbate oxygen ions to the same surface calcium ion is also a stable configuration and multiple interactions between surfaces and adsorbate molecules lead to the largest adsorption energies. All adsorbates containing carbonyl and hydroxy groups interact strongly with the surfaces, releasing energies between approximately 80 and 170 kJ mol(-1), but methylamine containing only the -NH2 functional group adsorbs to the surfaces to a much lesser extent (55-86 kJ mol(-1)). Both hydroxymethanamide and hydroxyethanal adsorb to some surfaces in an eclipsed conformation, which is a requisite for these functional groups. Sorption of the organic material by replacement of preadsorbed water at different surface features is calculated to be mainly exothermic for methanoic acid, but less so for the hydroxymethanamide and hydroxyethanal molecules, whereas methylamine would not replace preadsorbed water at the scheelite surfaces. The efficacy of the surfactant molecules is hence calculated to be carboxylic acids > alkyl hydroxamates > hydroxyaldehydes > alkylamines. The results from this study suggest that computer simulations may provide a route to the identification or even design of particular organic surfactants for use in mineral separation processes.


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