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Subscripts

a

= apparent

c

= center of catalyst particle

f

= value at catalyst bed outlet

h

= heat

i

= value at catalyst bed inlet

m

= mass

0

= value well upstream of reactor inlet

p

= particle or pressure

s

=

at catalyst particle surface

w

= at reactor wall

z

= axial

Literature Cited

Carberry, J. J., White, D.,lnd. Eng. Chem

Mears. D.E., Chem. Eng. Sci., 26, 1361 (1971a). Mears, D.E.,hd. Eng. Chem., ProcessDes. Dev., 10, 541 (1971b). Mears, D. E., J. Catal., 20, 127 (1971~).

Olson, R.W., Schuler, R. W., Smith, J. M., Chem. Eng. Prog., 46, 614 (1950).

Suzuki, M

Valstar, J. M., Bik, J. D.,van den Berg, P. J., Trans. Inst. Chem. Eng. (Lon- don), 47, CE 136 (1969). Votruba. A,, Hlavacek, V., Marek, M., Chem. Eng. Sci., 27, 1845 (1972). Young, L. C., Finlayson, B. A,, Ind. Eng. Chem., Fundam., 12, 412 (1973).

61 (7), 27 (1969).

Smith, J. M., Chem. Eng. J., 3, 256 (1972).

Receiued for reuieu: June 24, 1974

Accepted September 11, 1975

Continuous Thickening in a Pilot Plant

John P. S. Turner and David Glasser'

Department of Chemical Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South

Africa

The continuous thickening of a uranium plant slurry was studied on a 7-ft diameter pilot plant. Flow patterns and density profiles within the thickener were observed. It was found that there were two distinct stable modes of operation which were named "settler" and "filter" modes. The "settler" mode coincided with the underloaded operation while the "filter" mode corresponded to a fully loaded thickener. The flow patterns, internal circula- tions, residence-time density functions, overflow turbidities, and visual appearances of these two states were found to be very different. Maximum throughputs were 70-80% compared with those predicted by Coe and Clevenger and flux theory methods. This is attributed mainly to a more rapid settling out of the settling zone of the coarser particles, leaving the remaining pulp with a lower settling flux. Concentration zones in the thickener were not found to agree with the flux theory predictions.

Introduction

The existence of concentration zones within a thickener was shown by Coe and Clevenger in 1916. In general, three main zones exist, namely the clear water zone at the top, the settling zone in the middle, and the compaction zone at the bottom of the thickener. Coe and Clevenger compared the settling process occurring in both batch settling and continuous thickening and they formulated a method for sizing thickeners from batch settling results. Talmage and Fitch slightly modified the theory and test procedure in 1955, on the basis of the theory of sedimentation put for- ward by Kynch (1952). It has. however, been shown (Dunstan and Scott, 1969; Scott and Paulsen, 1970; Cross, 1963) that substantial flow

patterns can exist in a thickener, particularly the settling zone, and this circulation has definite effects on the process

of sedimentation. Nevertheless, the batch settling data of

both Coe and Clevenger and Talmage and Fitch have been reliably used for sizing thickeners for many years. Many of the laboratory scale experiments in thickening have used settling tanks with diameters of 30 cm or less. Under these circumstances flow patterns have not been re- ported as being of much significance. In order to consider the effects not present in laboratory scale equipment, a 7-ft

diameter pilot plant was subjected to extensive investiga- tion. The nature of the flocculated pulps has been discussed

by many workers (Michaels and Bolger, 1962; Scott, 1968a)

and this will not be repeated here.

Experimental Section

Material. The slurry was obtained as a waste product from a uranium processing plant. After oxidation and ex-

traction of the uranium by means of a sulfuric acid leach in the presence of manganese dioxide, the filtered pregnant li- quor is solvent extracted, and the barren acid solution is treated with lime. The stoichiometrically calculated composition of the plant slime was in weight per cent: Fe(OH)Z, 10.0%; Fe(OH),, 11.9%; Mn(OH):I, 10.8%; CaS04, 58.5%; lime im- purities, 8.8%. The pulp used consisted of the plant slime minus most of the coarser particle sized lime impurities. Micrographs re- vealed that the suspension consisted of fairly discrete par- ticles of iron hydroxide and transparent crystals of calcium sulfate (Turner 1972). Equipment. The continuous thickening experiments were done on a 7-ft diameter pilot plant, with central feed and underflow and peripheral overflow. The thickener was run in closed circuit with the underflow and overflow being combined in the stock tank to make up the feed pulp. The feed pulp was circulated through a steady head tank to maintain a constant feed rate. The level in the stock tank was controlled, if necessary, by make-up water on a ball valve control. The equipment and circuit diagram are shown in Figure 1. A rake mechanism was incorporated with a variable speed drive and consisted of angled rubber pads mounted below two revolving arms. Overflow was effected through 88 0.5-in. diameter holes drilled in the metal perimeter. The overflow could be adjusted in sections by blocking the holes with rubber stoppers. A conventional shallow feed well was used, with a hori- zontal baffle placed below the feed well to reduce the scouring effect. The feed distributor and baffle were mounted on the central shaft driving the rake mechanism, which revolved.

Ind. Eng. Chem., Fundam., Vol. 15, No. 1, 1976

23

Feed stock

Temperature

control

Figure 1. Circuit flow diagram

The thickener and associated equipment were installed in a laboratory equipped with thermostatically controlled fan heaters, and all the experiments were conducted at con- stant temperature. These ranged from 23.0 to 24.5OC. In addition, the stock tank was equipped with three 1-kW heating elements, activated by a simple on-off temperature controller controlling to within 1.5OC. This equipment was used in addition to the laboratory fan heaters, particularly for heating any make-up water. Measuring Equipment. The inlet flow was measured on a rotameter and recorded using a transducer measuring the pressure drop across an orifice plate. The underflow rate was calculated by timing a measured volume, and the over- flow flow rate was calculated by difference. These measure- ments could be checked by timing a measured volume of the overflow and controlling the stock tank level with make-up water, which was done during tracer tests. The inlet concentration was recorded using a specially built turbidimeter, and the underflow concentration was recorded by both a radioactive isotope density measure- ment and oven-dried samples. Liquid residence times were obtained from tracer tests using both radioactive sodium- 24 and rhodamine BN dye. Density height profiles within the tank were measured using a submersible radioactive isotope density gauge. This determined local densities using a collimated beam across a 3-in. path length. Both density gauges were built in the department and used Am-

ericium-241.

In an effort to observe flow patterns within the tank, an open perspex section, immersed in the tank, was used. The section was built like a wedge with sides along tank radii so as to disturb flow patterns as little as possible and extend- ing in depth to just above the rake mechanism. It had a perspex bottom and sides, but an open top to make obser- vations possible. At one point the flow was accelerated and forced against the side by a baffle, and flow patterns could easily he seen, even in the densest and slowest moving pulps. This section was also particularly useful for siphon- ing samples out of the tank. A sedimentation tray with separated compartments was used to measure radial settling in the tank. Built as thin as possible, with a lid that slid off sideways in order to cause minimum disturbance, the tray could be submersed to any depth. The material collected in the compartments could be examined and weighed. More details of the measuring equipment have been published elsewhere (Turner 1972).

General Method of Operation of Thickener. During

experimental runs, the tank system was left running in closed circuit 24 hr a day, in the temperature-controlled laboratory. No difficulty was achieved with the choking of lines because of the nature of the slime, and steady-state runs were easily achieved. Monitoring the steady-state con- dition was done with the inlet concentration. Steady-state conditions were changed as required by changing under-

24 Ind. Eng. Chern., Fundarn., Vol. 15, No.

1, 1976

flow and/or inlet flow rates. Steady-state conditions were run for several hours before samples were taken and then sampled over a period of 0.5 hr and mass balances were checked by comparing inlet and discharge. In the tracer tests the overflow was run to waste, with the level and tem- perature of the stock tank being maintained by the respec- tive equipment. A slow aging of the pulp seemed to occur and was pre- sumed to be due to the action of the centrifugal pump in the circuit. Coe and Clevenger batch tests were done, in a constant temperature laboratory, after each alternate run and if any evidence of aging was present the pulp in the pilot plant was replaced with fresh pulp. Continuous steady-state runs were done at four different inlet flow rates, with three or four separate runs at each flow rate, covering a range of inlet concentrations and tank conditions from underloading to full capacity.

Results Coe and Clevenger Batch Settling. The pulp exhibited

the two types of settling classified by Michaels and Bolger (19621, namely dilute and intermediate, with the concen- trated pulp not being subjected to batch tests. Six representative tests, covering the range of concentra- tions tested, are shown in Figure 2. The switch from dilute to hindered settling was very noticeable, with an induction period being required for the formation of floc particles. This was clearly seen at concentrations above 0.02 g/cm:' and showed a pattern of increasing induction time with in- creasing concentration. The test of the modified Richardson and Zaki equation (Richardson and Zaki, 1954; Michaels and Bolger, 1962)

(11

is shown in Figure 3 for representative batch tests. These show a good straight line fit up to a concentration of 0.02 g/cm3. This is in agreement with the observations and de- fines the boundary between dilute and intermediate set- tling. The results of uo and k taken from batch tests at four different temperatures are shown in Table I. These results show a constancy of k with temperature, and a strong vari- ation of uowith temperature. This variation is significantly greater than expected from pure viscosity considerations, and necessitated the strict temperature control during the steady-state runs. Temperature differences in the batch and continuous tests were corrected for by using the reduced settling veloc- ity and reduced flux curve (Shannon et al., 1963; Scott, 1968~).The value of h was taken as 18.00 cm.l/g for all cal- culations. The reduced flux curves in Figures 11-14 repre- sent all the hatch tests taken throughout the continuous runs.

u = UO(~- kc)'

65

Talmage and Fitch Batch Settling. Talmage and Fitch

settling experiments were performed on the pulp at various concentrations. The method of obtaining settling rate con- centration data from such curves, and the ranges of validi- ty, have been well presented (Talmage and Fitch, 1955; Fitch, 1966). The Talmage and Fitch and Coe and Clevenger tests were done simultaneously, and the value of ug thus ob- tained used in any conversion of Talmage and Fitch results to reduced units. The settling velocity as a function of concentration showed a very strong dependence on the initial concentra- tion. This is shown in Figure 4, where the Talmage and Fitch settling rate concentration curves are compared with the Coe and Clevenger settling rate concentration curve. In

c

z

:.

L:

40

30

;IO

A‘

21 u

10

30

50

70

Time

minutes

Figure 2. Coe and Clevenger batch settling curves. Initial concen- trations (g/cm3): A, 0.0087; B, 0.0153; C, 0.0209; D, 0.0257; E, 0.0342; F, 0.0340.

I

0.01

Concentration

0.02

I

0.03

gmslcc

I

0.04

Figure 3. Test of the modified Richardson and Zaki equation for

feed and settling zone material: 0, feed material 24.5OC; A, feed

material 22.8OC; .,settling zone material

22.8OC.

Table I. Constants for Modified Richardson and Zaki Equation

Temp, C

uo,cmimin

h, cm3/g

24.5

4.77

18.1

22.6

3.39

17.7

21.0

2.72

17.9

20.0

2.16

17.0

all probability this is due to some segregation during set- tling (as found in the continuous settling). For this reason a Talmage and Fitch flux curve was not drawn. Continuous Thickening. Flow patterns and zones with- in the thickener were very easily seen using the perspex wedge and were very well defined. Under all conditions of the thickener in normal operation three zones could be eas- ily distinguished, namely clear water zone, settling zone, and compaction zone. The steady-state runs showed the thickener to operate under two distinct modes of operation, characterized by different types of flow patterns and densi- ty profiles. Both modes, called “settler” and “filter” were shown to be stable operating conditions, corresponding to the thickener being underloaded and at full capacity, re- spectively.

I

Soilds

4

0 02

concentrotion

0 04

gmslcc

I

Figure 4. Reduced settling velocities for Coe and Clevenger and Talmage and Fitch methods: A, Talmage and Fitch, initial concen- tration = 0.0087 g/cm3; B, Talmage and Fitch, initial concentra- tion = 0.0155 g/cm3; C, Talmage and Fitch, initial concentration = 0.0238 g/cm3; D, Talmage and Fitch, initial concentration = 0.0286 g/cm3; E, Coe and Clevenger

Y

Hr

 

settler

modes

0 01

0 02

0 03

Feed

concentration

gmrlcc

Figure 5. The Internal circulation rate and settling zone concen- tration as a function of feed concentration for an inlet flow rate of

12l./min.

density

profile

Figure 6. Velocity and density profile for the “settler” mode of‘ operation. Arrow lengths represent flow velocities.

The transition from “settler” to “filter” mode was dra- matic, occurring at the throughput where the thickener was at maximum capacity. Any further increase in thickener throughput resulted in a sliming thickener. The main difference between the two modes, besides their throughputs, was in the flow patterns that existed in the thickener. In “settler” mode large circulating flow pat- terns existed in the settling and clear water zones, while in “filter” mode circulating flow in these zones was almost negligible as can be seen from Figure 5. These differences in flow patterns had a significant effect on a number of sec- ondary parameters, particularly in the settling zone where the depth and concentration of the settling zone increased drastically as the circulation decreased. In fact the “filter” mode derived its name from the very deep settling zone ex- isting under almost stagnant conditions and appearing to act as a filter bed for the feed material. This is also shown in Figure 5.

“Settler” Mode of Operation. The general condition of

operation of “settler” mode is illustrated in Figure 6, show- ing the zones, circulating flow patterns, and density profile. The feed to the thickener entered the tank vertically downward through the inlet distributor and was diluted by the circulating water from the clear water zone. This feed then turned horizontal and entered the thickener itself at

Ind. Eng. Chem., Fundam., Vol. 15, No. 1, 1976

25

teed

Figure 7. Velocity and density profiles for the “filter” mode of op- eration. Arrow lengths represent flow velocities.

its compatible density level, forming the settling zone. This cascading underwater waterfall effect has been seen by a number of other authors. The settling zone was relatively narrow, and the feed into the settling zone covered the complete depth of the settling zone. All three zones were very well defined with definite interfaces between them. Under “settler” mode the circulation of clear water from the clear water zone was very high, being as high as 2.6 times the volumetric feed flow. This was calculated from the dilution of the feed as it entered the thickener by si- phoning samples into the wedge. As this diluted feed en- tered the settling zone it spread very quickly toward the perimeter, with a decrease in horizontal velocity as the pe- rimeter was approached compatible with the increased area available for flow. At the perimeter the water flowed up- ward into the clear water zone leaving most of the solids behind in the settling zone. The circulation back to the center originated from the perimeter, with an increase in horizontal velocity as the center was approached. At the perimeter part of the upflow from the settling zone to clear water zone did not recirculate to the center. This consti- tuted the overflow. Vertical velocity profiles existed in both the settling and clear water zones, as illustrated in Figure 6. In addition a horizontal velocity profile existed in both these zones and could be seen by viewing the thickener in plan. A liquid tracer added to the feed showed random maximum veloci- ties as the tracer front moved out non-uniformly from the center of the thickener. This uneven tracer front was visi- ble in both settling and clear water zones. The flow through the settling and clear water zones ap- peared to be laminar. No mixing or transfer of material be- tween or within the two streams occurred except at the feed distributor and at the perimeter. In its passage from the center to the perimeter the feed appeared to undergo batch settling with the interface be- tween the settling zone and clear water zone becoming bet- ter defined as the concentration of the settling zone in- creased. The upflow at the perimeter carried particles from the cloudy interface to the overflow, giving the “settler” mode a relatively turbid overflow. The turbidity of the ov- erflow decreased as the concentration of the settling zone increased. These are phenomena that had parallels in the batch settling experiments (Turner, 1972). Generally the settling zone was of uniform depth with ra- dius, but under conditions where the settling zone was very narrow a slight wedge shape was noticed, with the settling zone thinning toward the perimeter. This would be expect- ed if there was batch settling from this zone. The liquid residence time density function is shown in Figure 8 illustrating clearly the circulating flow. These were obtained from dye and radioactive tracers in the liquid. Due to the large circulating flow within the thickener and the narrow settling zone the feed spread very quickly to the perimeter. Under the actual experimental conditions the feed reached the perimeter in 1.5-2 min, and the first trac- er appeared back at the center in 3.5-4 min. The upflow from the perimeter to the overflow was slow in comparison

26 Ind. Eng. Chem., Fundam., Vol. 15, No. 1, 1976

Units

I/

 

4

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

Time

mlnutel

Figure 8. Liquid residence-time density function curves; settler mode feed flow rate = 11.8 I./min; filter mode feed flow rate = 11.9 l./min.

to the horizontal flow and the first tracer appeared in the overflow after 4 min. This was the result of approximately two equal time delays, namely in the settling zone from the center to the perimeter and the flow at the perimeter from the settling zone to the overflow. The peak in the residence time density function curve appears after about 8 min. By this time the fastest circulating flow in the thickener had completed two cycles, giving the appearance of tracer com- pletely mixed throughout the settling and clear water zones. The liquid residence time distribution is thus not dissimilar to that of a perfectly mixed vessel with an initial delay.

the

thickener under “filter” mode is illustrated in Figure 7. As in “settler” mode the feed entered the thickener vertically from the inlet distributor, and then entered the settling zone horizontally at its compatible density level. Under fil- ter mode the settling zone was very deep and the feed en- tered over almost the entire depth. The settling zone ex- tended from the compaction zone almost to the surface, leaving a very narrow clear water zone. The rate of circulation of clear water was very low, and thus very little dilution of the incoming feed occurred. The rate of circulating water to fresh feed was approximately 0.2, thus resulting in a settling zone concentration of much higher concentration than under settler mode. Similarly, the flow from the center out radially was only to replace solids that settled into the compaction zone and water flowing to the overflow. Thus the horizontal flow in the set- tling zone was slow in comparison of that of settler mode. The flow out radially was laminar with a vertical velocity profile as shown in Figure 7. Close to the interface with the clear water zone flow was small and random. An additional horizontal velocity profile occurred similar to the one for “settler” mode. In “filter” mode the settling zone was both much greater in depth and much higher in concentration than in “set- tler” mode. The higher concentration was due in part to the lower circulation rate of clear water, and in part to a higher feed concentration as the throughput increased. The settling zone was of uniform concentration and structure throughout and appeared to consist of a coherent mass of floc particles, all interconnected and showing elas- tic properties. These acted as a filter bed for the liquid which percolated out of it, showing a sharply defined inter- face and a crystal-clear clear-water zone. The sedimenta- tion from the settling zone appeared to have the same sur- face and flow structure as those found in batch settling tests. Thus during the radial flow in the settling zone, batch settling occurred. With a uniform settling zone concentra- tion, settling was proportional to area, and this governed the flow velocities. The horizontal velocity decreased very quickly with radius, and solid tracer material in the settling

“Filter” Mode

of

Operation. The operation of

Table 11. Results of the Sedimentation Tray Tests

Test

Mode of

operation

Position of

tray

A

Settler

Bottom of settling zone

Compartment Sedimentation

B

Filter

Bottom of settling zone

Sedimentation

C

Filter

Top of settling zone

Sedimentation

 

Wt %

Wtlarea

Wt %

Wt/area

Wt %

Wtlarea

1 (center)

12.7

1.0

11.3

0.885

6.5

0.80

2

18.4

0.84

22.2

1.01

10.7

0.766

3

23.1

0.725

13.7

0.43

15.8

0.786

4

21.6

0.54

25.5

0.64

25.3

1.0

5 (perimeter)

23.8

0.48

27.3

0.55

41.7

1.33

zone appeared to approach the perimeter asymptotically as the horizontal velocity decreased to zero. Analysis of the settling zone pulp gave two important re- sults. (i) Sedimentation tray tests, to be discussed later, showed evidence of segregation of the feed material as it entered the settling zone, with the coarser material fed in at the bottom of the settling zone and settling out more quickly. (ii) Coe and Clevenger settling tests on the settling zone and feed material were done. These show flocs from the settling zone to have a significantly lower settling rate than the feed pulp. The test of the Richardson and Zaki equa- tion (Figure 3) shows the feed and settling zone pulps to have equal Stoke’s settling velocities (intercept) but differ- ent proportionality constants h (determined from the slope). The increase in the proportionality constant shows a decrease in the density of the floc particle. This differ- ence appears to be due to segregation in the batch settling, which, if taken into account, would in part at least explain the discrepancy between the feed curve and the settling zone curve. It also supports the observation of segregation of the feed as it enters the settling zone. The two reduced flux curves for both feed and settling zone material are shown in Figures 11-14. With this segregation occurring, the method used to cal- culate the rate of circulation of clear water is slightly in error and tends to overestimate the circulation. In the clear water zone, flow patterns showed very little circulation. General flow was toward the perimeter, with the overflow originating from percolation out of the settling zone at all points in the thickener. The difference in flow conditions between “filter” and “settler” modes is clearly seen from the liquid residence time density functions in Figure 8. Under the experimental conditions, the first tracer in the overflow appeared after a time delay of 4.5 to 7.5 min. This originated from tracer material that percolated out of the settling zone close to the feed distributor and then flowed directly to the over- flow. As the flow in the settling zone progressed out radial- ly, so more tracer percolated into the clear water zone and reached the overflow, until a maximum in the curve was obtained after about 25 min. Sedimentation Tray Tests. The phenomenon of segre- gation during sedimentation with the coarser particles set- tling out first (Scott and Paulsen, 1970) was observed in the present work using the sedimentation tray. Under both “settler” and “filter” modes, when the tray was situated at the interface between the settling and compaction zones, definite segregation was observed with the coarser particles settling out nearer the center of the thickener. Table I1 shows the decrease in settlement per unit area as the pe- rimeter is approached.

E

,E

-

90

105

125

Figure 9. Progress of solid tracer material through the thickener under “settler” mode of operation.

In contrast, when the sedimentation tray was situated high in the settling zone (“filter” mode), Table I1 shows fairly even settlement per unit area with no observed dif- ferences in material settled near the center and near the perimeter. This is to be expected from a uniform settling zone, and shows the feed material to undergo a vertical seg- regation with coarse material entering at the bottom of the settling zone and settling out fairly rapidly. The Compaction Zone and Underflow Discharge. Removal of settled material in the compaction zone by the underflow occurred through a cone shaped discharge with the underflow discharge as the apex. The material in the compaction zone appeared to flow slowly to the underflow in the cone shaped draw-off, rather than settle vertically and be scraped by the rake mechanism to the discharge. In fact, cessation of the rake movement appeared to have lit- tle effect on the underflow discharge. The path of solid tracer material in Figure 9 illustrates the cone draw-off and the effect of the rakes. The tracer was fresh pulp which was green, old pulp being brown. The importance of rakes, however, must necessarily vary with the type and grind of the material in the thickener. The elimination of water from the floc particles occurred in the compaction zone (hCun&rflow > 1) due to the weight of overlying solids. This could be seen from the water

Ind. Eng. Chem., Fundam., Vol. 15, No. 1, 1976

27

O[:3

A.

E,

0,

=8

6-

9-

12 -

-

-

I8

I5

21

-

- g

Qa

24-

-

27

f 3ob

I---,-

c\

(Ijlllllllllll

0

04

Reduced

08

solids

12

16

concentration

20

kc

24

10. Density profiles (or “settler” and “filter” modes (runs 5

and 7): 0, filter mode half way to the perimeter; 0,filter mode at the centre of the tank; A, settler mode half way to the perimeter; A. settler mode at the centre of the tank.

Figure

-

teed

 

A flux

teed

curve

B flux

settling

zone

curve

0.4

0.8

1.2

1.6

2.0

settiin>

Solids

volume

fraction

kc

underflow

concent rotions

concentrations

Figure 12. Operating lines of runs no. 5, 6, and 7 (inlet flow rate = 12.2 l./min): - - -, run no. 5: settler mode; e., run no. 6: settler mode; -, run no. 7: filter mode.

[

F 0.04

0

CL

teed

concentrat ions

A

feed

flux

curve

 

B

settling

zone

flux

curve

1IiIih -

 

0.4

0.8

1.2

1.6

settlinb ion;

Solids

volume

traction

kc

zzx

teed

concentrations

concentrations

p

V

d

0.08

0.04

toncenlratlons

A teed

B settling

flux

curve

zone flux

curve

04

OB

iettling. zone‘

Sollds

volume

fraction

kc

--

concentrations

undertlow

concentrations

Figure 11. Operating lines of runs no. 1,2, and 4 (inlet flow rate =

run no. 1: thickener sliming; - - -, run no. 2: filter

13.5 l./min): -,

., run no. 4: settler mode.

trapped under the bottom of the observation wedge. The bulk of displaced water percolated up, with an occasional channel formed to assist this upflow. These channels were destroyed by the disturbances due to the rake. Density Profiles. The density profile and flow patterns were taken simultaneously in all the experiments. Two re- sults are shown in Figure 10 for the thickener under “set- tler” and “filter” modes, respectively. As noted previously, under all conditions the feed entered the thickener at its compatible density level. Density profiles taken at differ- ent points in the tank showed no significant differences.

Operating Conditions Relative to the Flux Curves.

Operating lines for all the runs are shown relative to the re- duced flux curves of the feed and the settling zone pulps re- spectively in Figures 11-14. It can clearly be seen that the “filter” modes correspond to the highest throughputs. Also we may note that the operating lines for all the “filter” modes lie below the tangent line to the feed flux curve and above the tangent line for the settling zone flux curve. This is to be expected as the upper flux curve is not constructed for the true settling zone material while the operating line is not drawn for the correct settling zone flux (as some ma- terial has bypassed the settling zone). There was insuffi- cient information to draw the correct operating line, due to the feed material containing a distribution of particle sizes. The amount of material bypassing the settling zone is thus not known. The feed concentrations, the settling zone con-

28 Ind. Eng. Chem., Fundam., Vol. 15, No. 1, 1976

Figure 13. Operating lines of runs no. 8, 9, and 10 (inlet flow rate

8: filter mode; - - -, run no. 9: between a, run No. 10: settler modes.

settler and filter

=

11.1 l,/min): -,

run no.

:I=

iD

- -

2

V

a

0 08

004

teed

concentrations

A

feed

tlux

curve

 

B

settling

zone

flux

curve

 

0.4

1.2

1.6

2.0

kettling.

zone’

Solids

volume

fraction

kc

Lun&rflor

.

concentrations

concentrations

Figure 14. Operating lines of runs no. 11, 12, and 13 (inlet flow rate = 9.6 l./min): -, run no. 12: filter mode; - - -, run no. 13: filter

-,run

no. 14: settler mode.

centrations, and the underflow concentrations are also shown on these graphs.

Discussion

Under normal operating conditions the sedimentation tank consisted of three zones: clear liquid zone on the top, the settling zone in the center, and the compaction zone thickening the discharge. Sedimentation out of the settling zone appeared as batch settling with segregation. The coarser particles settled out first in both “filter” and “settler” modes, leaving a settling zone consisting of feed material minus the coarser fraction of particle sizes. The settling zone pulp thus displayed lower batch settling characteristics from that of the feed pulp, but settling out of this zone nevertheless appeared as batch settling. Flow velocities were sufficiently slow not to really affect the settling process. The batch settling had su- perimposed on it the effect of the underflow which in- creased the batch settling flux by a certain amount.

Results in Relation to the Flux Theory. The flux

theory has been well presented by many workers (Robins, 1964, Jernqvist, 1965). The theory is criticized for the fact

Table 111. Coe and Clevenger Flux Theory Results

 

Coe and

Flux theory

Actual results

Clevenger

Upper

Lower

limiting

conjugate

conjugate

Throughput

Settling

concn

concn

concentration

Reduced

zone concn

Reduced

Reduced

Reduced

units,

Reduced

Run no.

units, kc

units, kc

units, kc

Gk/Au,

units kc

 

_

2

0.522

0.075

0.52

0.0411

0.32

7

0.513

0.075

0.52

0.0408

0.36

8

0.612

0.075

0.49

0.0442

0.39

12

0.684

0.080

0.49

0.0435

0.48

13

0.628

0.080

0.49

0.0423

0.41

Actual throughput

as a 70of the predicted

Coe and

Flux

Clevenger

theory

77.5

77.5

77.1

77.7

77.4

80.5

73.7

80.5

70.0

74.7

that its basic assumptions are not valid for industrial thick- eners and hence the predicted concentration zones in the thickener did not occur experimentally. Capacities did show agreement. It is necessary to clarify what is meant by the flux theo- ry. The drawing of a flux curve from hatch settling tests and the associated mass balance line are not fundamental only to the flux theory. It is the relationship between the flux curve and this line and the association of various zones in the thickener with this graph which is unique to the flux theory. The basic assumption of the flux theory is the postulate of the feed being distributed evenly and continuously across the entire area of the thickener. Then due to the set- tling flux at the feed concentration being greater than the feed flux, the concentration immediately drops to a lower concentration (upper conjugate concentration) where the settling flux equals the feed flux. This is contrary to the concept of the feed entering at its compatible density (Fitch and Lutz, 1960;Sawyer, 1956),as seen in the present work. With the upper conjugate concentration lower than the feed concentration we would expect the feed to cascade to a point below this zone and then enter at its compatible density level. The floc bed at the upper conjugate concen- tration, if it exists, must then exist above the feed position and not below it. The present work also showed the neces- sity for a separate flux curve for the settling zone, due to the segregation of the feed. In the compaction zone limitations of predictions by the flux theory have been expressed (Robins, 1964). The theory predicts three concentrations; upper and lower conjugate concentrations and the discharge concentration. The na- ture of the compaction zone is not predicted, and the theo- ry considers the thickening as independent of height. The effect of overlying solids (or depth of compaction zone) is not considered unless we use the flux envelope of Tory

(1968).

Capacities. The predicted capacities of the thickener operating at maximum capacity, as postulated by the flux theory, and the predicted concentration zones are shown in Table 111. These are compared with the actual conditions for the thickener operating under “filter” mode in runs 2, 7, 8, 12, and 13. For runs 8, 12, and 13, where the feed concen- tration is greater than the lower conjugate concentration,

by the

normal method. Although flux theory capacities are in fairly consistent agreement with actual capacities, the upper and lower con- jugate concentrations were not found to exist. This can be seen to he true even for an upper conjugate concentration determined by a fictitious settling zone operating line drawn on the settling zone flux curve. There does not ap- pear to he any direct correlation between the lower conju- gate concentration and the settling zone concentration. Coe and Clevenger capacities, calculated for each condi-

the upper

conjugate concentration is determined

tion of “filter” mode of operation, also give consistent re- sults. Actual throughputs are 70-80% of those predicted by Coe and Clevenger. The formula of Coe and Clevenger may he readily transposed to read (Tory, 1961)

This relationship of Coe and Clevenger can be derived from the basic assumptions of the flux theory, which helps to understand the agreement between throughputs and throughputs calculated by both methods. Thus eq 2, at a specific concentration, defines the capacity for both meth- ods. The flux theory, however, defines the capacity of the thickener as limited by the minimum value of eq 2, which occurs at the lower conjugate concentration. Coe and Clev- ener define thickener capacity as the minimum value of eq 2 between the feed concentration and the highest concen- tration of free settling pulps. These two minimum values are the same, unless the minimum value of the flux curve is at a concentration either lower than the feed concentration or higher than the limiting concentration of free settling pulps. Thus generally we would expect equivalent through- puts from both methods. In the present work the capacities for both methods are the same for runs 2 and 7. In these two runs the lower con- jugate concentration falls between the feed concentration and the highest concentration of free settling pulps. In runs 8, 12, and 13, however, the lower conjugate concentration is at a concentration below the feed concentration, and thus the predicted flux theory capacity is lower than the Coe and Clevenger capacity. The zones and their concentrations described by Coe and Clevenger (1916) to exist in a thickener closely approxi- mate the conditions obtained under “filter” mode of the present work, with a settling zone concentration fairly close to the feed concentration. Two distinct differences oc- curred. (i) The coarse material effectively bypassed the settling zone resulting in a settling zone with settling rate lower than that expected from hatch tests on the feed material. Although not all the material entered the settling zone it was nevertheless rate limiting with regard to capacity under “filter” mode. (ii) Coe and Clevenger batch tests are expected to show enhanced settling rates at intermediate concentrations due to the induction period which allows a settling mechanism to develop. Thus with concentrations in the intermediate range, up to the highest concentration of free settling pulps, settling rates are expected to he lower than Coe and Clevenger predictions. The combined result of (i) and (ii) is actual throughputs consistently lower than Coe and Clevenger capacities. Irrespective of the design method used, the problem of measuring the flux under actual operating conditions ex-

Ind. Eng. Chem., Fundam., Vol. 15, No. 1, 1976

29

ists. The Coe and Clevenger method overestimates the set- tling rate. The Talmage and Fitch method was shown to give inconsistent results, depending on the initial concen- tration. The application of either of these batch methods rests on the basic assumption of settling rate as a function of concentration only. It has, however, been shown by a number of workers that additional factors besides solids concentration affect the settling rate (Shannon and Tory, 1965; Scott, 1968a,b, 1970).

Relation to Industrial Thickening. The phenomenon

of classification in settling, with the coarser particles set- tling out near the center and the finer particles settling evenly over the thickener, has been shown to occur in in- dustrial thickeners by Scott and Paulsen (1970). This phe- nomenon is also described in the present work. The coning effect in the compaction zone has also been reported in previous work (Cross, 1963). The present work shows effects such as the circulation of clear liquid, not considered important in some previous work. The agree- ment between flow patterns obtained in the present work and those intimated in the work of Scott and Paulsen (1970) on industrial thickeners suggests the existence of a “settler” mode in the industrial thickeners. In his paper, Fitch (1968) discussed the existence of a floc zone in thickeners that are intermittently fed. Cross (1963) showed the existence of a floc bed with a density profile in the tank very similar to that obtained under “fil- ter” mode. The buildup of this floc bed also resulted in very marked decrease in circulating flow within the tank. It is the view of the authors that the conditions obtained in the 7-ft diameter tank of the present work are a reason- able approximation to conditions in industrial tanks, and significantly more representative than results obtained on laboratory scale equipment.

Summary

Although based on one slurry only, the present work gives a new insight into the operation of continuous thick- eners thickening flocculated pulps, describing the zones and concentrations existing and flow patterns occurring in thickeners from direct observations within the thickener. The conditions of a thickener operating below its maxi- mum capacity (“settler” mode) have been shown to be vastly different to the conditions at full capacity (“filter” mode). The latter conditions are, however, more important as they define the capacity of a thickener. The zones and pulp concentrations observed were similar to those ob- served by Coe and Clevenger in 1916, and the Coe and Clevenger method gave consistent, though higher capaci- ties. The drawback of this method is the problem of ob- taining settling, in hatch tests, representative of the set- tling in continuous thickeners.

30 Ind. Eng. Chem., Fundam.,Vol. 15, No. 1, 1976

Under certain conditions, capacities calculated from the flux theory are identical with those of Coe and Clevenger. This occurs when the lower conjugate concentration falls between the feed concentration and the highest concentra- tion of free settling pulps. Under these conditions, the Coe and Clevenger method is in fact the flux theory, without all the trimmings of predicting density profiles with which agreement was not found in the present work. The sizing of thickeners for this type of feed material ap- pears best done using the Coe and Clevenger method, add- ing a safety factor over and above that necessary for plant fluctuations and temperature variations.

Acknowledgments

J. P. S. Turner gratefully acknowledges the financial as- sistance of Rand Mines Ltd., which made this work possi- ble, and thanks the Blyvooruitzicht Gold Mining Co. Ltd., for the supply of raw material. We would like to thank Dr. A. W. Bryson for initiating this project.

Nomenclature

A

= cross-sectional area of thickener, cm2

c

= solids concentration, g/cm3

c,

= underflow concentration g/cm3

G

= thickener solids throughput, g/min

k

= specific volume of flocs, cm3/g of dry solids

u = batch settling velocity, cm/min uo = Stokes’ settling velocity, cm/min

Literature Cited

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Cross, H. E., J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Met., 63, 271 (1963). Dunstan, E. T., Scott, K. J., C.S.I.R., Repof? No. C. Chem., 245 (1969).

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Fitch, E., Ind. Eng. Chem

Fitch, B., Lutz, W. H., J. Water Pollut. ControIFed., 32, 147 (1960).

Jernqvist, A. S.-H., Sv. Papperstid., 68, 506, 545, 578 (1965). Kynch, G. J., Trans. Faraday SOC.,48, 166 (1952). Michaels, A. S., Bolger, J. G., Ind. Eng. Chem., Fundam., 1, 24 (1962).

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Chem. 131 (1970). Shannon, P. T., Stroupe, E

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(1963).

Shannon, P. T., Tory, E. M., hd. Eng. Chem., 57, 18 (1965). Talmage, W. P., Fitch, E. E., Ind. Eng. Chem., 47, 38 (1955). Tory, E. M., Ph.D. Thesis, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind

Tory, E. M., quoted in Scott (1968b) as a private communication. Turner, J. P. S., MSc. Dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand, Johan-

1961.

nesburg, 1972.

Received for review October 1,1974 Accepted August 7, 1975