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3/11/2017 TangentialFlowSeparationANewWayToTreatWaste

GuestColumn|July27,2015

Tangential Flow Separation: A New Way To Treat Waste


ByJ.H.Wakefield

Canleakyhosesreallybeconsideredaninnovation?Theanswerisyes
whenapplied(ingeniously)forliquid/solidsseparation.

Mostwatertreatmentprofessionalsarefamiliarwiththecategorizationofwastetreatment
processesintothreegeneralsegments:1.)sedimentation/settlingofparticulatesinthewaste
streamandconcomitantseparationofthesefromtheliquidphaseofthewastestreamasafirst
category2.)biologicaltreatmenttechnologiesofonesortoranotherontheseparatedliquid
phaseasasecondcategoryand3.)tertiarytreatment(usuallychemicalorphysicalinnature)
toensureremovalofspecificwasteproductsthatmustberemovedbeforeanyresulting
effluentisdischargedintotheenvironment.

Thereareaplethoraofdifferentdevicesandprocessesthatarisetoaddressthesevarioussegmentsofthewastetreatmentprocess.Inthefollowing
explanation,weshallexamineanewtechnologythatisapplicabletoboththeinitialsegment(solidparticulateremoval)aswellastothefinal
polishingprocessofthewastestream.

UnderstandingParticulateRemoval
Beforewegetstarted,itmightbeagoodideatoreviewthebasicsofparticulateremovalintheentirewastewatertreatmentprocess.Particulatesare
assignedtocategoriesdependingontheirphysicalstateandsometimeseventheirchemicalproperties.Thecategoriesare:settleablesolids,
suspendedsolids,colloidalparticulates(solutions),andsolublesolids(i.e.,solvatedsolidswiththestandardsolventbeingwater,althoughother
solventsareoccasionallyencountered).

Settleablesolidsdependonsizeanddensityasseparationcharacteristics,buttheprocessisalsodependentupon
temperatureandparticularlythevelocityofthewastestream.Turbulenceisalsoavariable,thoughit,too,is Thebigadvantageof
generallytreatedasavelocityrelatedparameter.Suspendedsolidsarethoseofsmallersizethatdonotreadilysettle thistangentialflow
out,soonenormallyutilizescoagulants/flocculantstoeffecttheprocess.Coagulantsdevelopasticky,gummymass separatortechnologyis
thatusuallyconsistsofagellikehydroxide(aluminum,iron,orevencalcium)toentrapthesesmallerparticulatesas thatitlowersthecostby
theybecomeenmeshedintheformedmatrix.Afurtherstepiscompletedasthesetrappedandboundparticulatesare controllingthecostofthe
sequesteredinthematrixformed,andflocculantsincreasetheextentofthematrix. polymersnecessaryand
byallowingtheuseof
Colloidalparticulatesarethosethataresosmalltheydonotspontaneouslyseparate,andtheycarryanadsorbed zeolites(specifically,
electrostaticchargesurroundingtheparticulate.ThischargedcoatingisreferredtoastheSternLayerandhasa clinoptilolites)toboth
thicknessofasinglehydratedioniclayertightlyattachedbyelectrostaticforcestothecolloidalparticulateforminga removeandbinda
varietyofoffendingionic
firstinnerlayerofcharges.Becausethecolloidalparticulateiselectricallycharged,itattractsionsandothercolloidal
particulatesoftheoppositesign.Theparticleandtheattachedionsofoppositesignformanelectrostaticdouble species.
layer.AdditionalionsofoppositesigntothatofthecolloidalparticulatesalsoaccumulatenexttotheSternLayer.
Theseformadiffuselayer.Thesecolloidsareagglomeratedbyessentiallytamperingwiththeseelectrostaticchargesinonewayoranother.
Dependingonthenatureofaparticularcolloidalparticulate,theymaybesaltedout,bridgedbymeansofvariouspolymers,removedbyion
exchangemechanisms,and/orflocculatedbyanyandalloftheabove.

Thelastcategoryofparticulatestoberemovedissolvatedparticulates(usuallymolecularinnature,butnotalways)thatarechemicallytreated
thatis,reactedwithsomeotherfunctionalgroupthatresultsintheirbeingboundorsequesteredinthegelmatrix.Itisherethationexchange
becomesapredominantplayer.

Keepinmindthatnomatterwhatthenatureoftheseindividualparticulatesis,theyareconvertedfrom
beingamemberoftheliquidphasetobeingamemberofthesolidphase.Thefinalproblemthatarisesis
separatingthesetwophasesasefficientlyandcompletelyaspossible.

NewSeparationTechnology
Ithascometomyattentionfromseveralclientcompaniesthatthereisanewtechnologythatworksboth
intheinitialandtertiarytreatmentofthesewastestreams.Severalpatentshavebeenissuedinthisregard,
andIhaveconsidereditbesttoaddressthemastangentialflowseparators.Thesedevicesare
liquids/solidsseparatorsemployingauniqueprinciple,wherebyleakyhosesutilizealaminarflowvector
forthesolidphaseandatangentialflowvectorfortheliquidphase.Thefluidpathiscontainedwithina
tube(orhose,ifyoulike),andthesolidphaseisforceddownandoutofthelumenofthetube.Theliquid

https://www.wateronline.com/doc/tangentialflowseparationanewwaytotreatwaste0001 1/3
3/11/2017 TangentialFlowSeparationANewWayToTreatWaste
phaseiscollectedbyameshmembraneofsortsand,foryouchemicalengineersoutthere,isrelatedtoamodifiedFraschprocessminusthehigh
pressuresandtemperatures.Thesolidphasecontinuesdownthetubewhereitiscollected.Theresultistheremovalofthesolidphasefromthe
liquidandthedewatering(ordesolvating,dependingonthesolvent)ofthesolidphase.

Asitresultsinremovalofparticulatesandtheirconcentrationfordisposalorotherapplications,thesemaybeconsideredasprimarytreatment
devices.Ifthewastestreamhasaspecificcharacter,suchasawastestreamfromaplatingoperation,thesedevicescouldbeusedassuch.

Butthatsnotthewholestory,northedesignedintent.Tangentialflowseparatorshave,infact,beendesignedastertiarytreatmentdevicesto
addressrecalcitrantwastestreamswithdifficulttoremoveregulatedand/ordangerouscomponents.Thisistheresultofapackageof
coagulants/flocculentsdesignedspecificallytoaddressthesesituations.Anotuncommonmethodofaddressingtheseproblemsinvolvesthe
oxidationofoffendingionicspecies(suchasCu++,Cd++,Pb++,andothers),aswellassequesteringthoseanions(PO4)thatforminsoluble
precipitatesand/orcomplexions,andthenutilizingtheprincipleofionexchangetoremoveotheroffendinganions(NO3).Thisinvolvesaclay
(usuallyamontmorillonite),aninorganiccoagulant(alumorferricioncompound),andaspeciallyformulatedpolymer(usuallyacationicpolymer)
tocompletetheremovalprocess.

Thebigadvantageofthistangentialflowseparatortechnologyisthatitlowersthecostbycontrollingthecostofthepolymersnecessary(thoughnot
eliminatingtheirusage)andbyallowingtheuseofzeolites(specifically,clinoptilolites)tobothremoveandbindavarietyofoffendingionicspecies.
Clinoptilolitesarezeolitesthatfunctionasscavengersforbothanionsandcationsbecomehighlychargedandarereadilyremovedaslarger
particulatesfromtheliquidphase.

ConsiderationsRegardingFlocculants
Itisincumbentupononewishingtoseparatesolidandliquidphasestohavethemclearlydelineated.Themorecompletelytheyaredelineated,the
moreeffectivetheresults.

Tothisend,differentcoagulants/flocculantsareemployeddependingonthewastestreamthatisencountered.Includedamongthesearenatural
flocculantssuchasthemontmorilloniteclays(Bentonite,forexample),aswellasvariousvolcanicclaysincludingthevariousformsofzeolites
(clinoptilolite,forexample).Eithermixturesofthesecoagulants/flocculantsareused,orpossiblythosewithadditionsofprocessingchemicals
includingvariousinorganicsaltsandpolymerionexchangemoieties,inordertoeffectanacceptableseparationforparticularwastestreams.

Inanywastestream,therearebothsuspendedanddissolvedsolids.Theseparationtechnology,whateveritis,isefficaciousonlyinsofarasitis
capableofaggregatingorprecipitatingthesedifferingphysicalforms.So,bothaphysicalandchemicalreactionareusuallynecessary.Dissolved
solidsareprecipitated,suspendedsolidsareunsuspended,andbothofthesecomponentsarethencollectivelyaggregatedandremovedviathe
tangentialflowseparationtechnology.Howthisseparationoccursinanysystemisessentialtounderstandingthefunctioningofthesystemandthe
rationaleforitsdesign.

HowAndWhyItWorks
Dissolvedsolidsarethefirsttobeconsidered.Therearetwowaystoremovethem:First,solubilitymaybealteredbychemicalmeans.Tothisend,
theadditionofvarioussaltsmayaffecttheirsolubilityandresultintheformationofaninsolubleprecipitate.Secondly,thesedissolvedsolidsmay
besequesteredassolidsinvariouscomplexes,whichthemselvesareinsoluble.Bythesemeans,virtuallyanydissolvedsolidcanberemoved.Allone
hastodoisfindanagentthatwillprecipitateorsequesterit.Bentoniteisaneconomicalandeffectivechoiceasacarrier,especiallyifitistreatedto
effectaparticularseparation.

Thesuspendedsolidsarenextontheagendaforparticularwastestreams.Theseareabitmorecomplexastheyvarywidelyinchemicalstructure
andeveninthemechanismoftheirsuspension.Somearesuspendedasaresultoftheirsize(eitherverylargeorverysmall).Thosethatarevery
largedepend,forthemostpart,onthevelocityofthewastestreamanditstemperature.Smalleronesusuallydependonsurfacecharge.

Inremoval,largeonesaremostlyanannoyance,butsmallonescanbearealproblem,assurfacephenomenaareinvolved.Thekeytoremoving
theseparticulatesistofindwhatchargetheycarry,and,ifpossible,whatengenderedthecharge.Thisisaddressedbyprovidinganoppositecharge
toaggregatetheparticulates(oppositechargesattract).Howthisisaccomplishedmayrequireacoagulant/flocculantthatisitselfoppositely
charged.Mostofthemicroparticulatescarryanegativechargetherefore,coagulants/flocculantsshouldusuallyhaveapositivesurfacecharge.
ManyoftheBentonitesdohaveapositivesurfacecharge(remembertheyareionexchangers)ifamoreordifferentlychargedsurfaceisrequired,
theadditionofanaluminumsaltcanalterthestructureoftheBentoniteorcanevenbesequesteredinotheradditionstothemixture,suchasthe
variouszeolites(whicharealsoionexchangers[watersofteners]).Thebasesresultingfromaluminumandferric/ferrousiron(aluminumandiron
hydroxides)arecommonlyusedascoagulants/flocculantsinwatertreatmentandwastewaterplantspresently.

Thetangentialflowseparatorsystemisdesignedtoaddthenecessaryamountofcoagulants/flocculantsinordertoaggregatethewastestreamtoan
acceptabledegree.Thisisaffectedbyanairdrivenmixerthatinjectstheflocculantstreamconcurrentlybymixingitintothewastestream.This
mixercanbeadaptedtodeliveranysurfacechargenecessarytoeffectcoagulation/flocculation.Exactlyhowandatwhatsteppriortofiltration
dependsonthenatureofthewastestream,aswellasthephysicalparameterssuchasvelocity,temperature,andparticulatechargeonthe
suspendedparticulateswithinthewastestream.

Thetangentialflowseparatoristhenchargedastheflocculanttreatedwastestreamentersthelumenoftheseparatorypart.Atthispoint,the
solidsaremoveddowntheline,andthefluidfractionisseparatedanddirectedtangentiallytotheflow.Thisactionresultsinafiltrationsituation
inwhichtheliquidfractionisflowingmoreorlessperpendiculartothelinearlydirectedflowofthesolidsastheyproceeddownthelumen.This
resultsinthetangentialflowseparatoractingasaleakypipeforthefluidphaseremovalandasasolidsconcentratorforthesolidsmovingdown
theseparatorslumen.

https://www.wateronline.com/doc/tangentialflowseparationanewwaytotreatwaste0001 2/3
3/11/2017 TangentialFlowSeparationANewWayToTreatWaste
Evidenceregardingtheseparationefficacyresidesinthebeforeandaftervaluesofvariousimpuritiesofinterestin
aparticularwastestreamthataredeterminedfromtheseperatedliquidphase.Ofcourse,thesolidphaselikewise
showstheefficacyoftheprocessbytheamountoffluidretainedinthecakeandbytheamountof
coagulant/flocculantcomprisingthesolidphaseofthetreatedsolidsemanatingfromthelumen.Asflocculant
inclusionintothiscakeisquiteimportantfromaregulatoryviewpoint(yetlimitedasaprocessingaid),theamount
presentinthefinalcakedeterminestheefficacyoftheprocessasawhole.

AboutTheAuthor

Dr.J.H.Wakefieldisaconsultingscientist/engineerwithmorethan30yearsofexperiencein
water/wastewatertreatment.Heholdsadvanceddegreesinmicrobiologyandphysical/analyticalchemistryandhasbeenapracticing
chemicalandenvironmentalengineerformanyyears.

https://www.wateronline.com/doc/tangentialflowseparationanewwaytotreatwaste0001 3/3