Professor Fengnian (Frank) Shi is a leading international expert specialised in high voltage electrical pulse comminution and mechanical comminution for the mineral and coal industries.

In conventional comminution, Frank has developed new techniques for ore and coal breakage characterisation. These include the JK Rotary Breakage Tester (JKRBT), nine commercial units having been installed around the world; the JK Size-dependent breakage model that has found 20 applications for the mineral industry and coal industry since it was published, and has been used commercially; the JK Fine-particle Breakage Characteriser (JKFBC) that has been used by researchers for fine ore breakage characterisation and ball mill feed breakage parameters determination; and a theoretically based coke strength index (JKCSI) that unifies the 11 coke strength indices in five world Standards into one single index. He was the major driving force in developing mathematical models, such as the impact hammer mill model, the vertical spindle mill model and the specific energy-based ball mill model that has been incorporated in commercial software. In 2008, Frank was appointed as a Coal Research Manager at the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC). He created new research opportunities in coal fired power station grinding research at JKMRC by applying his expertise in ore characterisation and mathematical modelling that was developed for the mineral industry to the coal industry. He has achieved 2 million AUD in funding as a leading Chief Investigator (CI) in various research projects since appointed to the Coal Research Manager position.

Frank has been leading the JKMRC team studying electrical comminution using high voltage pulse (HVP) technology since 2008. A new principle of integrating the HVP technology into a mineral industry processing circuit was established, in which low HVP energy is used to change ore processability such that it results in improved performance in downstream processes. Three applications of HVP technology have been discovered for ore pre-weakening, improved coarse minerals liberation and selective breakage of conductive minerals which enables pre-concentration. These research outcomes have reinvigorated industrial interest in HVP. A large international collaborative research project to transform the HVP research outcomes from laboratory into a viable full scale industrial application is being developed.

Chinese by birth, Frank joined JKMRC in 1988 as a visiting academic, and was awarded a PhD degree from The University of Queensland in 1995. Since then, Frank has predominately undertaken comminution research including HVP electrical comminution and conventional mechanical comminution. He is one of the major inventors of four patents related to ore breakage characterisation and HVP comminution. His paper on ore pre-concentration by HVP, co-authored with Zuo and Manlapig, was chosen as the winner of the 2017 CEEC Medal for the Technical Research category. The CEEC Medal is a prestigious and global award, recognising outstanding advances in the area of eco-efficient comminution and mineral processing. He also received the 2016 SMI Excellence Award in Discovery and Innovation for the HVP research. He has published over 100 papers that have been cited more than 1100 times, with an h-index of 20. In the past five years, he achieved an average publication rate of 11 papers per year. He has two honorary appointments as a Guest Professor at the China University of Mining and Technology and the Huazhong University of Science and Technology.


In his nearly 30 years association with JKMRC, Frank’s research is mainly industry-focused with a large proportion of funds coming from industries. He has engaged with many mining companies worldwide, such as Newcrest, Anglo, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Vale, Newmont, Lonmin, DMS Powders, etc. He also has connections with a number of coal-fired power stations and equipment manufacturers in Australia and China.


Since Frank’s research covers wide areas in different disciplines, he has established broad international collaborations, such as SELFRAG in Switzerland, Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China, and the Kola Science Centre of Russian Academy of Sciences in HVP research; China University of Mining and Technology and ALS-Coal in Australia in coal-fired power station and coke research; University of Cape Town in South Africa, McGill University in Canada, Hacetteppe University in Turkey, University of Newcastle in Australia, the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden in the conventional comminution research in AMIRA P9 projects.

Key Publications

Shi, F. (2016), A review of the applications of the JK size-dependent breakage model Part 1: International Journal of Mineral Processing, 155, 118-129; Part 2: 157, 36-45; Part 3: 157, 60-72.

Shi, F., Zuo, W. and Manlapig, E. (2015), Pre-concentration of copper ores by high voltage pulses. Part 2: opportunities and challenges. Minerals Engineering, 79 315-323.

Shi, F. and Xie, W. (2015), A specific energy-based size reduction model for batch grinding ball mill. Minerals Engineering, 70 130-140.

Shi, F., Kojovic, T., Larbi-Bram, S. and Manlapig, E. (2009), Development of a rapid particle breakage characterisation device: The JKRBT. Minerals Engineering, 22 7-8: 602-612.

Shi, F. and Kojovic, T. (2007), Validation of a model for impact breakage incorporating particle size effect. International Journal of Mineral Processing, 82 3: 156-163.

Full list of publications available on espace


Frank has successfully achieved over 8.9 million AUD of funding from Australian Government, mining and coal industries worldwide to support 26 research projects in the past 10 years. He was the leading CI or sole CI for 19 of the 26 projects.