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Analysis of the Effect of Slurry Concentration and Height on Sedimentation Chara

cteristics of Kaolin-Water Mixture

D.S. Corpuz, J.L. de Guzman and J.M. Golbin Department of Chemical Engineering,
University of the Philippines-Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
D.S. Corpuz, J.L. de Guzman and J.M. Golbin, 2008. Theoretical discussions predi
ct that initial slurry concentration and height affect the sedimentation charact
eristics, particularly settling time and settling velocity. From experimental da
ta, it was shown that the settling velocity of a mixture decreases with increasi
ng concentration, yet reverses trend in the compression settling zone; and settl
ing time needed to reach the final height increases with increasing initial slur
ry height. Keywords: compression settling, critical settling point, drag force,
free settling, hindered settling, rate-limiting layer Stokes Law, terminal veloc
ity OBJECTIVES The experiment aimed to observe the relationship of settling time
with slurry concentration, as well as with initial slurry height. This experime
nt also intended to determine the behavior of settling velocity as the sedimenta
tion process proceeds. The effect of slurry concentration with particle settling
velocity was also studied. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND Sedimentation is one of the m
ethods used in industry to separate liquid-liquid or solid-liquid mixtures. By d
efinition, sedimentation is the separation of a dilute slurry or suspension by g
ravity settling into a clear fluid and a slurry of higher solids content (Geanko
plis, 1993). The resulting liquid is essentially particle free. In industry, eit
her the particle free liquid or the particles itself is the desired product. Bas
ically, sedimentation is the movement of particles through a fluid. All througho
ut its motion, three forces act on the particle, namely, buoyant force, gravitat
ional force, and drag force (Geankoplis, 1993). Buoyant force, Fb, is the upward
force exerted by the fluid on the particle, and is given by the equation Equati
on 2 gives the terminal velocity for free settling wherein a particle is at a su
fficient distance away from the wall and other particles (Geankoplis, 1993). In
general, however, particles experience hindered settling, that is, the velocity
gradients around each particle are affected by the presence of nearby particles
(McCabe, 2001). The drag force in hindered settling is greater than in free sett
ling because of the interference of the other particles, thus the settling veloc
ity for hindered settling is less than that for free settling. (Geankoplis, 1993
) The terminal velocity becomes a function of , th volum fraction of th slurry
mixtur occupid by th liquid. Svral corrlations hav bn dvlopd to ana
lyz sttling vlocity for hindrd sttling, and thir mthods and drivations
ar byond th scop of this xprimnt. PROCEDURE Th xprimnt involvs th a
nalysis of th ffct of varying th hight of th slurry and thir concntratio
ns on th sdimntation proprtis. To dtrmin th ffct of initial slurry h
ight on sdimntation proprtis, thr sampls with th sam concntration of 2
.5% kaolin-watr solution wr mad. Initial slurry of 800 mm, 600 mm and 400 mm
wr assignd. Th slurry insid th vssl was nsurd to hav a homognous ch
aractristic by rigorously mixing and shaking th sdimntation cylindrs. Start
ing at th sam, th mixturs wr allowd to sttl, and at intrvals of 2 minu
ts, th hights of th clar rgions of th thr sampls wr rcordd. Total
obsrvation tim was 2 hours. For th scond part of th xprimnt, th ffct
of concntration on th sdimntation proprtis was analyzd. Th volum (or h
ight) of thr nw sampls was mad constant, and thir concntrations ar vari
d (2.5%, 5%, 7.5%). Th hights of th clar rgions wr rcordd with intrval
s of 2 minuts for th first two hours. Th sampls wr lft ovrnight and th
last point was to b rcordd at that priod. For this xprimnts cas, mor tha
n twnty-four hours was obsrvd.
whr m/p is the volume of the paticle, is the density of the liquid, and g is t
he gavitational constant. The gavitational foce, Fg, on the paticle is given
by Newtons Law as The dag foce, FD, is the fictional esistance elated to th
e velocity head of the fluid displaced by the moving body (Geankoplis, 1993) and
is given by the equation

whee CD is the dimensionless dag coefficient, and is velocity head. The dag c
oefficient is a function of the Reynolds numbe. In the lamina flow egion whe
e NRe<1, Stokes Law dominates and CD is given by (Geankoplis, 1993) (1) In sedime
ntation, the paticles expeience a peiod of acceleated fall and a peiod of c
onstant velocity fall (Geankoplis, 1993). The constant velocity peiod is usuall
y of moe impotance, as the acceleated fall peiod is vey shot elative to t
he constant velocity peiod. In the constant ate peiod, the paticles each a
maximum settling velocity known as the teminal velocity, vt. The teminal veloc
ity is detemined by solving the velocity at which the sum of the thee foces i
s equal to zeo. Geankoplis gives the equation fo the teminal velocity of sphe
es as (2) whee Dp is the paticle diamete.

RESULT AND ANALYSIS The mechanism of solid settling fom sluy can be best obse
ved in a glass cylinde as shown in Fig. 1 below.
90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 0.00
Clea Liquid Inteface vs. Settling Time (Vaying Initial Heights)
Clea liquid inteface height, z, cm
tube 1 tube 2 tube 3
1.00 Settling time, , hr
Fig. 2. Clear Liuid Interface vs. Settling Time (same concentration, different
initial heights)
Fig.1 . Batch Sedimentation (Source: McCabe, 2001) Initially, the slurry is unif
ormly concentrated and the initial height is zo, as shown in Fig. 1a. The concen
tration of the slurry is high enough that the particles affect each others rate o
f fall to the extent that after a short time, all particles settle at the same v
elocity and are assumed to approach rapidly the terminal velocities under hinder
ed-settling conditions (Foust, 1980). The concentration is high enough to cause
settling as a matrix, that is, the particles remain in a fixed position relative
to each other as they settle ( Heavier solids settle faste
r, thus forming zone D shown in Fig. 1b. Zone A is the region of clear liuid (F
oust, 1980). Zone B is a region of uniform concentration which is essentially e
ual to the initial slurry concentration (McCabe, 2001). In this zone, the partic
les settle by free settling and at a uniform rate (Geankoplis, 1993). Zone C is
the transition region wherein the concentration is nonuniform and the sizes of t
he particles are varied (Foust, 1980). As sedimentation goes on, the depth of zo
ne B decreases, the depths of zone A and D increase, while that of zone C remain
s constant, as shown in Fig. 1c (McCabe, 2001). Zone B eventually disappears, an
d the solids in zone C and D merge such that only zone D is distinct, as shown i
n Fig. 1d. During this stage, the matrix of particles gets constrained from the
bottom because of the bottom of the settling tank. Such a situation is called co
mpression settling ( The moment (or height) at which zone B
and C disappear and all the solids appear in zone D is referred to as the criti
cal settling point. By definition, it is the point at which a single distinct in
terface forms between the clear liuid and sediment (Foust, 1980). Beyond the cr
itical settling point, sedimentation occurs by compression. The gradual accumula
tion of the upper particles compress the solids at the bottom and decrease the h
eight of zone D, and force the residual liuid in zone D out upward through the
solids into the clear liuid zone. The settling rates during compression settlin
g are very slow, and the rates may be estimated using hindered settling computat
ion methods. Fig. 1e shows the end state of the sedimentation process, in which
the weight of the solid is balanced by the compressive strength (McCabe, 2001).
Sedimentation design and calculations are based upon identifying the concentrati
on of the layer having the lowest capacity for the passage of solids through it.
This particular layer is called the rate-limiting layer, cL (Foust, 1980). One
of the objectives of this experiment is to determine the effect of varying initi
al slurry heights (or volume) on the sedimentation characteristics. Initially, t
he concentrations of the three samples were kept constant and their initial heig
ht was varied. The results for the first objective are presented first, followed
by the results for the varying concentration. As discussed earlier and shown in
Fig. 1, different zones appear during sedimentation. Fig. 2 is a plot of the de

pth of the clear zone versus time. The plot shows that during initial stages of
sedimentation, the depth of the clear zone decreases at a constant rate as sedim
entation goes along, as shown by the steep linear part of the plot. The plot als
o shows that the slope changes after a certain depth has been reached. The curve
of the plot during the later stages of sedimentation is almost horizontal yet s
till almost linear. The part of the plot that is almost horizontal represents th
e compression settling stage, wherein hindered settling dominates.
Fig. 3. Getting the zone settling velocity (Source: www.ceeserver.cee.cornell.ed
As shown by Fig. 3, the settling velocity for the different regions can be deter
mined from the plot of liuid interface height versus time. The slope of the ste
ady interface subsidence rate represents zone settling velocity.
Tube 1: Determination of Velocity
900 800
Clear liuid interface height
700 600 500 400 300 200 100 0
60 Settling time
Fig. 4. Determining the settling velocity

Fig. 4 shows the method used in this experiment to determine the settling veloci
ties at different points. The slopes of the tangent lines at each point, which i
s eual to the settling velocity at the point, were determined. In euation, (3)
The exact values of the settling velocities of each trial are shown in the appe
ndix. From the y-intercept of the tangent lines in Fig. 4, the height zi that th
e slurry would occupy at concentration cL is determined. The zi data can be used
to determine the minimum concentration cL at which boundary layer interferes, u
sing the euation (4) where co and zo are the initial concentration and height,
respectively. Exact values of cL are given in the appendix.
Settling velocity vs. Concentration
the nearer presence of the other particles slow each others settling velocity. Th
e velocity in the compression settling zone is significantly less than that in t
he earlier region. Fig. 5 also shows how the initial height (or volume) of the m
ixture affects the settling velocity of the mixture. The sample with the highest
initial height (namely, tube 1) had, in general, the fastest settling rates com
pared to rates of the other samples.
Tube 1: Height vs. Time
Clear liuid interace height, z, cm
800 700 600 500 400 300 200 100 0 0 20 40 60 Settling time, , hrs 80 100 120
200 180
Settling Velocity (cm/hr)
160 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 0.00 50.00 100.00 150.00 200.00 250.00
Fig. 7. Getting the critical settling point
Concentartion (g/L) tube 2 tube 3 tube 1
Fig. 5. Settling Velocity vs. Concentration (same height, different concentratio
Time, mins
As the sedimentation process goes along, the concentration of
increasingly becomes more concentrated because the solids are
cted. As this happens, the settling velocity decreases as the
eases, as shown in Fig. 5. Notice that the velocity decreases
nt rate when the concentration is relatively low.
Settling Velocity vs. Settling Time
200 180 160 140

the solids region

getting more compa
concentration incr
at almost a consta

Additional information that can be determined from the z vs. plot is the critica
l settling point, as illustrated in Fig. 7. The critical point is the point wher
e a single distinct interface forms between the clear liuid and sediment can be
obtained. At the start of sedimentation, the solids have a concentration co and
free settling is observed. A tangent line is drawn at this part. On the other h
and, another linear behavior which is almost horizontal is observed at the other
end of the graph. A tangent line is also drawn at this part. These lines are ex
tended until they intersect. The angle between these two lines is measured and a
n angle bisector is used. The bisector is extended until it touches the curve. T
he point of intersection is the critical point. A tangent line is made at the cr
itical point. Extending this line gives the value of the concentration and time
at the critical point. (Foust, 1980)

Time to Critical Point vs. Initial Height

31 26 21 16 0 200 400 600 800 1000
Initial Height, mm tube 1 tube 2 tube 3
Settling velocity, vt, cm/hr
120 100 80 60 40 20 0 0.00 0.50 1.00 Settling Time, , hr 1.50 2.00
Fig. 8. Time needed to reach critical point vs. Initial height
From Fig. 8, it is observed that the sample with the highest volume (or height)
takes longer to reach its critical point. The main reason for this phenomenon is
that the time to reach the critical point would be influenced by the amount of
sediment that has to settle as it reaches the critical point. Generally, this is
the only effect of varying the height of the slurry can have. Initial height do
esnt necessarily affect the sedimentation rate. For the second part of the experi
ment, the objective was to determine the effect of initial concentration on sedi
mentation characteristics. Three samples of kaolin-water slurry were made with d
ifferent concentration. It is expected that the rate of descent of the solid-li
uid interface is a function of local concentration (Foust, 1980).
Fig. 6. Settling Velocity vs. Settling Time (same concentration, different initi
al heights)
Fig. 6 shows the trend of settling velocity as sedimentation goes along. It shou
ld be noted that there are regions wherein the velocity is approximately constan
t. The settling velocity also experiences significant change. It can be seen tha
t the velocity decreases as the sedimentation goes along, as is theoretically ex
pected. This is because the hindered settling region is increasingly becoming mo
re concentrated as time goes on and

Height vs. Settling Time (Varying Initial Concentrations)

100 90
settling zone. The settling velocity used in Fig. 11 was computed using the meth
od illustrated in Fig. 4. It should be noted from Fig. 6 and Fig. 11 that the zo
ne settling velocity depends more on the initial concentration than on the initi
al height. The velocity of the particles are may be affected by the wall of the
cylindrical vessel used.
Clear liuid interface height, z, cm
7.50% 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 0 10 20 30 40 Settling time, , hours 50 60 70 5.0
0% 2.50%
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Based on all the data and graphs gathered from t
his experiment, it can be concluded that the initial concentration and height (o
r volume) of the slurry affects its sedimentation characteristics. In particular
, increasing the initial height of the slurry would also increase the settling t
ime needed to reach the final height and somewhat increase the settling velocity
. It can also be concluded that increasing the initial mixture concentration dec
reases the settling velocity of the particles before the compression settling zo
ne. During the compression settling zone, the higher concentrations would result
to higher settling velocities. It was also observed that the sedimentation proc
ess obeyed Stokes Law, and that the drag force FD, Reynolds number NRe, and term
inal settling velocity vt behaved in a similar manner. REFERENCES Foust, A.S. (1
980). Principles of Unit Operations. Singapore: John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Pte Ltd
. pp. 629-636 Geankoplis, C.J. (1993). Transport Processes and Unit Operations.
Singapore: Prentice Hall. pp. 816-817, 820, 825 McCabe, W.L. (2001). Unit Operat
ions of Chemical Engineering. Singapore: McGraw-Hill Book Co. pp. 164, 168, 1039
0.00 100.00 200.00 300.00 concentration (g/L) 5.50% 7.50% 2.50%
Fig. 9. Clear Liuid Interface Height vs. Settling Time (same initial height, di
fferent concentrations)
As observed from the Fig. 9, evident differences in their plots are present. A l
inear behavior is observed at the start of sedimentation although the sample wit
h the highest initial concentration flattened out the uickest.
Settling velocity vs. Concentration
180 160 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0
settling velocity (cm/hr) Retrieved February 29, 2008 http://ce Retrieved February 29, 20
Fig. 10. Settling Velocity vs. Concentration
(same concentration, different height)
Settling Velocity vs Settling Time (Varying Initial Concentrations)
Settling Velocity, vt, cm/hr
7.50% 5.00% 2.50%

0 Settling Time
Fig. 11. Settling Velocity vs. Settling Time (same initial height, different con
In accordance with theory, the more concentrated sample had lower settling veloc
ity, as shown in Fig. 11. Greater number of solids block the water below from ri
sing up, thus the solids take longer to settle down. However, as the particles r
each the compression settling zone, the trend is reversed, that is, the more con
centrated sample had faster settling velocity. This is probably because the weig
ht of the solids that compress the particle matrix is the determining factor in
the compression