Emeritus Professor Fengnian (Frank) Shi specialises in high voltage electrical pulse comminution and mechanical comminution for the mineral and coal industries.

Starting his career as an operator at an iron ore mine in China in 1971, Frank has had over 50 years of experience in mineral processing. He joined the JKMRC in 1988 as a visiting academic, and then as a PhD candidate. Frank was awarded a PhD degree by The University of Queensland with a thesis titled "Slurry rheology and its effects on grinding".  He has continuously been associated with the JKMRC for the past 34 years, before he retired in 2022.

Frank is a research-focused academic, aiming to improve the energy efficiencies of the comminution processes used by mineral and coal industries to achieve size reduction.  His expertise covers wide areas including ore and coal breakage characterisation, mathematical modelling of comminution machines and circuits, slurry and flotation froth rheology, and high voltage pulse (HVP) comminution technology. Frank has published over 150 papers and articles since 1990 and was listed in the 2020 Top 2% of world's Scientists (based on paper citations) by Stanford University.

Frank has published two patents related to breakage characterisation. He was a chief inventor of the JK Rotary Breakage Tester (JKRBT) and a method to determine the breakage property of particles (JK size-dependent breakage model). Nine commercial units of JKRBT have been installed with major mining companies around the world.  The JK size-dependent breakage model has found 20 applications for the mineral and coal industries and has been used commercially. In addition, Frank developed the JK Fine-particle Breakage Characteriser (JKFBC) and the theoretically based coke strength index (JKCSI) that unifies the 11 coke strength indices presented in five World Standards into one single index.

Frank was on the team that conducted extensive lab-scale, pilot-scale and full-scale High Pressure Grinding Rolls (HPGR) experiments and used the data to develop an HPGR model in the 1990s. Frank also coded the HPGR model for JKTech to incorporate into commercial software JKSimMet. He was the major driving force in developing the impact hammer mill model for the coal industry, the vertical spindle mill model for coal-fired power stations, and the recent Specific energy-based ball mill model for the mineral industry that has been incorporated into commercial software IES.

Frank has conducted detailed rheology studies on grinding mills, hydrocyclones, dense medium cyclones, flotation froth, coal-water slurry, etc. He has published pioneering studies on flotation froth rheology and joined a supervision team to guide PhD studies on the effects of froth rheology and stability on flotation performance. Frank has guided studies on the rheological characterisation of various ore deposits containing different minerals and clay materials. He has provided commercial consulting on the rheology-related job for JKTech, such as rheological characterisations for various types of ferrosilicon and dense media produced by different manufacturers in the world, and offered advice on rheology-associated research projects at the JKMRC.

Frank led the JKMRC team studying electrical comminution using HVP technology from 2008 to 2022. He is chief inventor of the two HVP patents. One patent invented an ore preconcentration method from the discovery of HVP selective breakage of metal-rich ore particles while keeping barren rocks intact.  The new HVP application has the potential to reject a large amount of coarse waste using a size-based screening method following the HVP treatment of the Run-of-Mine feed ore, resulting in significant energy saving and downstream separation efficiency improvement. The second HVP patent invented an electrified grizzly system, which has the potential to scale up the HVP-enabled ore preconcentration technology from laboratory batch test to a large-scale continuous operation.

A paper presenting the HVP preconcentration technique, with Frank being the first-named author, was chosen as the winner of the 2017 CEEC Medal for the Technical Research category. The CEEC Medal is a prestigious global award presented to one paper annually, recognising outstanding advances in the area of eco-efficient comminution and mineral processing. The new HVP technology developed by the JKMRC team has reinvigorated industrial interest in HVP to support a four-year HVP Collaborative Research Program. Significant funding was recently secured through the Australian Government's Trailblazer scheme, to potentially transform the electrified grizzly concept into a commercialised product.

Frank retired as Technical Director of the HVP Collaborative Research Program at the end of April 2022 and was conferred as Emeritus Professor in May 2022.

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