Dr Kim Van Netten
School of Engineering
- Phone:(02) 403 39041
A surprise opportunity
When Dr Kim van Netten sat for an undergraduate industry scholarship interview at the start of her degree, she definitely didn’t expect the outcome to lead her to where she stands today.
“The interview went terribly, it was horrible.”
“But Professor Kevin Galvin was on the panel and he must have seen something in me because he offered me an ongoing research scholarship instead.”
Throughout her Bachelor’s degree at UON, Kim spent one day a week conducting research with Kevin’s chemical engineering team.
“Before that I had never even considered research.”
“I just thought combining study with work might be a good thing to do. But working in the lab really introduced me quite early on to what the research environment is like and I really enjoyed it.”
“So I stuck with it. I gave my first national conference presentation as a second year undergraduate.”
Research alongside industry
Once she had completed her Bachelor and Honours degrees, Kim was all set to start her PhD in the field of particle separation.
“My project was based on an idea Kevin had just before I started, so I was the first one to work on it.”
“We work closely with industry - that's one of Kevin's strengths, he makes sure that we're moving in the same direction that the industry needs.”
In the process of mining for minerals, the ore is first taken from the ground and crushed to liberate the minerals of interest. The mixture of minerals and low-value materials then needs to be separated.
Traditionally, froth flotation is used, which firstly requires the valuable mineral particles to be hydrophobic, to repel water, then air bubbles are added to extract the particles. The valuable particles float upwards, joined to the air bubbles, for easy removal.
However, due to the falling quality of mineral deposits and increased demand for metals, this highly effective technology is starting to reach its limit.
“In our research, we have replaced the air bubbles with a selective binder which has a hydrophobic surface. It’s actually more like a gel than a bubble, and is 95% water.”
“With intense mixing, we see large agglomerates of the hydrophobic particles form in seconds.”
Following each experimental separation, Kim runs her final product over a screen to recover the agglomerates for further analysis.
“It probably took me about six months to figure out what I was doing!”
“Since then I have been able to optimise the binder – I would try different things to see their effect on the final product until I found the combination of conditions that was the most successful.”
“It’s not a complex process at all – but it turns out the mechanisms behind it are very complicated. We can do it but we are only just learning now how it works.”
As she now has a doctorate student to help her with this fundamental study, Kim is focussing on streamlining the process so it can be used in industry.
“Everything I have done in the lab up until now has been on a batch scale, but if it’s going to be used in industry then it needs to be part of a continuous process.”
International collaboration and recognition
Kim started working on this part of the challenge just before she completed her thesis, when she was invited to a platinum mine in South Africa to test out her process on their real feeds.
“The work was really good and I really enjoyed it.”
“But one of the main things I took away from that experience was there was still a lot to be done!”
Kim’s work has also been recognised internationally – she won the first Australian Falling Walls Lab competition run by the Australian Academy of Science, with her three-minute presentation on her research. This took her to Berlin to compete with other finalists from all over the world.
“I nearly went insane trying to prepare my speech.”
“You have to appeal to a general audience, describe the problem, present the solution in terms of the science, and outline the way ahead, all in about 300 words.
“I think that's a valuable exercise for any researcher to do because it teaches you to communicate science to an audience.”
Kim graduated with a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering (Hons) in 2010 and started a PhD in 2011 at the University of Newcastle under the supervision of Dr. Roberto Moreno-Atanasio and L/Prof. Kevin Galvin. Her PhD was on the selective agglomeration of fine particles. She and L/Prof Galvin are currently working on applying the process developed during her PhD to the beneficiation of fine minerals.
- Doctor of Philosophy, University of Newcastle
- Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical Eng ) (Honours), University of Newcastle
- Emulsion Chemistry
- Multiphase Processes
- Separation Processes
Fields of Research
|090406||Powder and Particle Technology||30|
|Title||Organisation / Department|
|Research Associate||University of Newcastle
School of Engineering
For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.
Journal article (7 outputs)
Galvin KP, van Netten K, 'A new method for ultra-fast concentration of hydrophobic particles', CHEMICAL ENGINEERING SCIENCE, 158 439-444 (2017)
van Netten K, Moreno-Atanasio R, Galvin KP, 'Selective agglomeration of fine coal using a water-in-oil emulsion', Chemical Engineering Research and Design, 110 54-61 (2016) [C1]
Van Netten K, Moreno-Atanasio R, Galvin KP, 'A Kinetic Study of a Modified Fine Coal Agglomeration Process', Procedia Engineering: New Paradigm of Particle Science and Technology Proceedings of The 7th World Congress on Particle Technology, 102 508-516 (2015) [C1]
Van Netten K, Moreno-Atanasio R, Galvin KP, 'Fine particle beneficiation through selective agglomeration with an emulsion binder', Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research, 53 15747-15754 (2014) [C1]
Â© 2014 American Chemical Society.A high internal phase (HIP) water-in-oil emulsion was used as the binder in the selective agglomeration of fine coal from an aqueous suspension o... [more]
Â© 2014 American Chemical Society.A high internal phase (HIP) water-in-oil emulsion was used as the binder in the selective agglomeration of fine coal from an aqueous suspension of coal and mineral particles. Traditionally, this agglomeration is achieved by a pure oil, hydrophobic, binder. However, the high cost associated with using pure oil makes the process economically unfeasible. Therefore, the emulsion binder introduced in this work was motivated by the economic need to reduce the amount of organic liquid required in the process. The effect of the agitation time during the agglomeration process and the composition of the emulsion on its performance as a binder were investigated. The best result obtained was for a HIP emulsion made from 3 wt % aqueous NaCl and diesel oil with sorbitan monooleate as the emulsifier. This emulsion had a dispersed phase volume fraction of 0.94 and achieved a 7.5-fold reduction in the amount of organic liquid required to achieve agglomeration.
Liyanaarachchi KR, Webber GB, van Netten K, Moreno-Atanasio R, Galvin KP, 'Selective collection of fine particles by water drops', Advanced Powder Technology, (2014) [C1]
This study was concerned with the interaction between a gaseous dispersion of fine particles travelling in the horizontal direction and discrete drops of water falling vertically ... [more]
This study was concerned with the interaction between a gaseous dispersion of fine particles travelling in the horizontal direction and discrete drops of water falling vertically through the dispersion. A simple analytical model of the particle-drop collision was developed to describe the particle recovery by the drops as a function of the water flux, covering two extremes of relative velocity between the particles and drops. The Discrete Element Method was used to validate the analytical model. Further validation of the model and insights were obtained through experimental studies. The physical process of wetting was observed to be important in influencing the tendency of particles to become engulfed by the drops of water, or to either adhere to the drops or by-pass the drops altogether. Hydrophilic particles were readily engulfed while hydrophobic particles, at best, adhered to the surface of the drop, or failed to attach. Moreover, the recovery of the hydrophilic silica particles was significantly higher than the recovery of hydrophobic coal particles, with the selectivity ratio approximately 1.5. Spherical ballotini particles were the most sensitive, with a notable increase in recovery when cleaned, and evidence of increased recovery with increasing particle size. The recovery of irregular shaped silica flour particles, however, was largely independent of the particle size. A similar result was observed for irregular coal particles, though the recoveries were all lower than relatively more hydrophilic ballotini or silica flour. Crown Copyright Â© 2014.
van Netten K, Zhou J, Galvin KP, Moreno-Atanasio R, 'Influence of magnetic and hydrodynamic forces on chain-aggregation and motion of magnetisable particles and composites', CHEMICAL ENGINEERING SCIENCE, 93 229-237 (2013) [C1]
Zhou ZQ, Van Netten K, Galvin KP, 'Magnetically driven hydrodynamic interactions of magnetic and non-magnetic particles', Chemical Engineering Science, 63 3431-3437 (2008) [C1]
|Show 4 more journal articles|
Conference (5 outputs)
Galvin KP, Ernst TP, Van Netten K, 'Ultrafast recovery of hydrophobic particles using a novel hydrophobic binder medium', Proceedings of the XXVIII International Mineral Processing Congress (IMPC 2016) (2016) [E1]
van Netten K, Ernst T, Moreno-Atanasio R, Galvin KP, 'Fast and Selective Fine Coal Agglomeration Using an Economic Binder', Sixteenth Conference Proceedings Australian Coal Preparation Conference (2016) [E1]
Van Netten K, Moreno-Atanasio R, Galvin KP, 'Enhanced Recovery of Fine Coal Particles using a Modified Oil Agglomeration Process', Australiasian Particle Technology Scoiety Student Conference 2013 (2013) [E3]
Van-Netten K, Moreno-Atanasio R, Galvin KP, 'Preparation of Coal Agglomerates using a Water-in-Oil Emulsion', Chemeca 2013 (2013) [E1]
Liyanaarachchi KR, Webber GB, Galvin KP, 'Selective collection of fine particles by water drops', 2012 AIChE Annual Meeting (2012) [E3]
|Show 2 more conferences|
Patent (1 outputs)
Galvin KP, Van Netten K, Method and Apparatus for Agglomerating Hydrophobic Particles (2016)
Grants and Funding
|Number of grants||1|
Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.
20161 grants / $83,234
Funding body: AngloAmerican (Anglo Operations Proprietary Limited)
|Funding body||AngloAmerican (Anglo Operations Proprietary Limited)|
|Project Team||Laureate Professor Kevin Galvin, Doctor Kim Van Netten, Doctor Jamie Dickinson|
|Type Of Funding||International - Non Competitive|
Number of supervisions
Total current UON EFTSL
|Commenced||Level of Study||Research Title||Program||Supervisor Type|
|2015||PhD||Beneficiation of Dense Minerals||PhD (Chemical Engineering), Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, The University of Newcastle||Co-Supervisor|
August 25, 2016
University of Newcastle engineering researcher, Dr Kim van Netten, has won the inaugural Australian Falling Walls Lab competition that recognises innovative ideas and research projects.
Dr Kim Van Netten
Centre for Advanced Particle Processing and Transport
School of Engineering
Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment
|Phone||(02) 403 39041|
|Building||Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER)|