Analysis of floc morphology in a continuous-flow flocculation and sedimentation reactor


Pengfei Ren , Jun Nan , Xinran Zhang , Kai Zheng

DOI:10.1016/j.jes.2016.04.007

Received February 02, 2016,Revised April 07, 2016, Accepted April 18, 2016, Available online May 04, 2016

Volume 29,2017,Pages 268-275

The floc morphology was investigated in a continuous-flow reactor, in order to understand the evolution of flocs in practical flocculation and sedimentation processes in water utilities. Kaolin-humic acid suspension was used as the test water, and polyaluminum chloride was chosen as the coagulant. An in-situ recognition system was applied to analyze the floc size, boundary fractal dimension, and eccentricity ratios. Particle numbers and turbidity were also determined in the sedimentation stage. At a coagulant dose of 1 mg/L as Al, the average floc size increased from 62 to 78 μm and the boundary fractal dimension was around 1.14, suggesting that flocs were compact and continuously grew during the entire flocculation process. However, with the dose increased to 5 mg/L, the average floc size decreased and stabilized at around 65 μm, with the fractal dimension of 1.20. It can be concluded that the excess coagulant doses resulted in the formation of chain-shaped, lower density, and more branched structure flocs, thereby restricting flocs' further growth in the subsequent flocculation. Floc morphology analysis suggested that charge neutralization dominated in the initial flocculation stage, then the bridge and sweep mechanisms were dominant in the subsequent flocculation. In addition, compared with the traditional inclined plate settler, a novel V-shaped plate settler introduced in this study had an advantage in small size floc (less than 5 μm) removal. The V-shaped region could promote aggregate restructuring and re-flocculation; therefore, the V-shaped plate settler provides an alternative method for sedimentation.

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