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Chapter 7

CHARACTERISTICS OF SEDIMENTATION-BASED EQUIPMENT


Donald L. King
Frank A. Baczek
Eimco Process Equipment Company
P.O. Box 300
Salt Lake City, Utah 841 10-0300

Sedimentation-based equipment is
used i n applications where separation of
solids from liquid by gravity settling is
desired. I f a concentrated solids slurry is
desired, the equipment is designed to
"thicken"; i f a clear liquid is desired the
equipment
is designed to "clarify."
Thickeners normally handle higher solids
loading rates than clarifiers, which usually
process feed slurries containing low
concentrations
of
suspended
solids.
Thickeners are therefore designed for
heavier-duty requirements, and clarifiers
have extra featurcs to ensure more
complete suspended solids removal.
Major components (Figure 1) that are
common
to
all
sedimentation-based
equipment
are:
tank,
drive-support
structure, drive unit and l i f t i n g device, rake
structure, feed well, and a means of
overflow
and
underflow
withdrawal.
Specific
featurcs
are
designed
interdependently
after
the
overall
separation
approach
is
defined
conceptually. This conceptual approach is
usually bascd on past experience or evolves
from sedimentation studies conducted on
samples of the slurry to be handled.
Because many variations and combinations
of components are possible, the overall
conceptual approach has a number of
possible designs that w i l l accomplish the
desired results. The final choice is based on
practicality,
potential for minimizing
upsets, and cost.

OVERFLOW LAUNGER
m

7
~

MECHANISM SUPPORT
FEED, P I P E OR IAUNDER

VERFLOW O W L m

WITH B W E S
UNDERFLCU OUTLET+

LDISCHARGE
CONE

,YWER

BRIDGE, OR BLRn SUPPORT TYPE

RAKE DRIVE
(MAY U S 0 BE PITTED
WITH RAKE L I F T )
y- OVERFLOW LRUNDER

TRUSS, OR BEAM, P O I
M ACCESS VALWAY
PEED P I P E , OR W W D E R

JVERFLOW O W L E T
PEEDWELL

UNDERFLOW O W L E T

CAGE
C ~ E COLUHN
R

IM

TRmQI
SCRAPER
DISCHARGE T R m C H

Figure 1. Features of Continuous


Sedimentation Equipment.
Tanks
Tanks or basins (Figure 2) are
constructed from steel, concrete, wood,
concrete wall and impermeable earthen
bottom, or all earth that has been made

CONCENTRATION AND DEWATERING CIRCUITS


/--STEEL

OR LINED STEEL TANK

GROUND LWEL

L _ - - _ _ - -

'

r E L E V A T m STEEL TANK

__-___

UNDERTLCW ACCESS
-ELEVATED

STEZL OR WmD TAHK

mechanisms a r e generally used s t a r t i n g a t


27 m e t e r s d i a m e t c r , a n d have been installed
on t a n k s up t o 183 m e t e r s diameter. L a r g e
d i a m e t e r c e n t e r columns (caissons) a r e
available up t o 7.3 m e t e r s d i a m e t e r for
c e n t e r pump rooms.
The caisson design
(Figure 3) uses walk-through c e n t e r drive
openings up t o 3.9 m e t e r s d i a m e t c r with
rolling e l e m e n t bearings and up t o 5.8
m e t e r s d i a m e t e r for hydrostatic (fluid film)
bearings.

CAISSON TYPE CMTER COLUMN


(TAPERMI WALL1

BRIDGE SUPPORT TYPE


CONNOCTION

UNDERFLCW ACCESS TUHNEL.


CAISSON TYPE CRTTER COLUMN
(STRAIGHT WALL1

C W E R CULUPIN SUPPORT TYPE

Figure 2. Tank Configurations.

VNDERPUW CONNOCTION

i m p e r m e a b l e with compaction, s y n t h e t i c
liners, o r soil c e m e n t .
Selection of
m a t e r i a l s i s based on c o s t , availability,
chemical-corrosion
resistance,
process
t e m p e r a t u r e , topography, c l i m a t e , and
ground conditions. C o n c r e t e a n d s t e e l a r e
typically used with a corrosion-resistant
c o a t i n g applied for protection.
The shape of t h e t a n k is usually
round.
Square o r rectangular basins a r e
used in s o m e municipal a n d industrial
c l a r i f i e r designs.
The underflow handling system m a y
require t a n k s t h a t a r e e l e v a t e d above
ground, on t h e ground with a n a c c e s s tunnel
under t h e tank, o r with a large c e n t e r pump
room where pumps c a n b e located and
serviced without a n a c c e s s tunnel under t h e
tank.
Tank f e a t u r e s usually include t h e
means for supporting t h e rake drive
mechanism which depends largely on tank
diameter.
Bridge supported mechanisms
a r e furnished on tanks up t o 53 m e t e r s
diameter.
C e n t e r column supported

CENTER C O L m SUF'EQRT

TYPES WITH C m R A L PUnP RoOn

Figure 3. C e n t e r Column Support Types


with C e n t r a l Pump Room.
Tank b o t t o m s a r e usually sloped t o aid
in underflow removal.
The rheological
c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of t h e thickened slurry a r e
used to d e t e r m i n e slope requirements.
Where f l a t tank bottoms a r e installed with
t h e rake mechanism having t h e desired
slope towards t h e tank c e n t e r , s e t t l e d solids
m u s t "bed-in" t o form a f a l s e sloping
floor. In this case, t h e c o r r e c t method o f
bedding-in a n d proper c h o i c e of bedding
material characteristics a r e important t o
insure a s t a b l e bed t h a t w i l l . n o t "slump".
Dual-slope bottoms a r e
used in larger
thickeners to minimize c e n t e r depth. Also,
t h e s t e e p e r inner slope is in a n a r e a where
coarser o r denser solids will m o r e likely
settle; and this helps t h e r a t e of solids
m o v e m e n t to t h e c e n t e r discharge point.

CHARACTERISTICS OF SEDIMENTATION-BASED EQUIPMENT


Overflow collection launders o r pipes
may be a n integral p a r t of t h e t a n k o r
a t t a c h e d separately.
iLlechanisrns and Lifting Devices
The h e a r t of any large sedirncntation
device is the s e t t l c d solids conveying
mechanism which consists of t h e drive
(Figures 4 and 5) and the rake structure.
The drive f e a t u r e s a r c related t o the
type of support, and t o the duty-rating

required. Duty requirerncnts a r e based on


torque demand versus torque capability.
These, then, d e t e r m i n e t h e main supportbearing requirements and whether a rakelift device is to'be incorporated.
T h e selection of the level of torque
capability is one of the most important
decisions in thickener design, where t h e
primary function is t o produce dense
underflows. T h e required operating torque
is a function of t h e raking load which
depends on the nature of the settled

Figure 4. Eimco Type C Drive with Precision Bearings.

Figure 5. E i m c o B Series Drive.

117

118

CONCENTRATION AND DEWATERING CIRCUITS

solids.
The torque requirement during
normal operation is a fraction of what is
recommended, selected, and available
(capability).
Capability is a function of
w h a t experience h a s shown to b e necessary
when upsets o r o t h e r operational problems
occur. Torque availability, beyond normal
operation! provides t h e e x t r a driving f o r c e
t o allow t l m e t o c o r r e c t t h e problem.

possible t o continue operating the thickener


o r clarifier and maintain production while
corrective action is taken.

Additional s a f e t y devices a r e usually


provided t o prevent exceeding t h e torque
capability, and thus causing possible
d a m a g e t o t h e drive mechanism and rake
structure.
A torquc measuring device
(Figure 6 ) is installed which registers torquc
demand a s a percent of t h e rated torquc
capability. This device is referred t o a s a
drive control and also serves t o sound a n
a l a r m t o signal a n increasing torque
situation. The signal c a n also be used t o
control the rake lifting/lowering sequence,
or s t o p t h e drive t o p r o t e c t the t o t a l
mechanism.
A rake-lifting device (Figure 7) scrves
t o p r o t e c t t h e mechanism, and is also a
useful device f o r providing t h e capability t o
"work" a viscous o r dense sludge bed t h a t
m a y develop during a n upset. This m a k e s i t

Figure 7. E i m c o Type W Drive with


Motorized Lifting Device.

Figure 6. Eimco Fully Enclosed Drive Torque Control.

CHARACTERISTICS OF SEDIMENTATION-BASEDEQUIPMENT
Thcre is not a precise method of
selecting torque to be applied t o a
thickcl~cr
mcchanisin
and
the
manufacturers experience is weighed
heavily in recommending the torque
capability.
The selection considers the
application, expected solids concentration
and raking load. and the amount of e x t r a
driving f&ce t h a t will be required when
problems occur. One method is t o use an
approach t h a t relates t rque a s a function
of a constant, K (Nm/m ), multiplied by the
square of the tank diameter in meters. A
generalized graph is shown in Figure 8,
which shows torque a s a function of tank
diameter. Lines representing the normal
range of K values a r e shown. The range of
K values for some general applications a r e
also given in the figure.
The dark
horizontal lines represent standard drive
sizes and torque capability.

119

A traction drive, when used, is usually


adapted t o tanks larger than 60 m e t e r s
diameter. The traction drive thickener h a s
a c e n t e r column supported rake mechanism
with a drive a r m a t t a c h e d t o a motorized
carriage which runs along t h e tank
periphery.

Rake Structure
The rake structure assists in moving
the settled solids t o t h e point of
discharge. Design of the rake depends on
t h e application. Usually t h e r e a r e two long
arms, and occasionally, two additional short
a r m s a r e used. Traction units generally
have one long arm (driven a r m ) and three
short arms.
There a r e three basic rake a r m
designs (Figure 9). The conventional design
is typically used. The dual-slope design is
used for large diameter units. The dualslope design allows the use of large
diameter tanks without having unnecessary
o r excessive c e n t e r depth t h a t would be
required with a single sloping arm. The
"thixopostW design h a s rake blades a t t a c h e d
t o vertical posts extending below t h e truss
t o keep t h e truss o u t of the thickest pulp.
This design is ideal in c e r t a i n applications
for
preventing
thick,
viscous pulp
accumulation on t h e rake structure. I t also
helps keep t h e required torque lower when
thickened pulp exhibits considerable viscous
drag.

ad tor sbpinp bottoms

Arm u u d tor thirotrepic 8limn b W e m t 'donut'


f o r m a f h S ond ottoin maximum u n d b t l a -nutit8

Figure 9. Rake Mechanism Designs Used


for Specific Duties.
Another design is the cable-arm rake
mechanism (Figure 10).
Cables a r e
a t t a c h e d t o a truss, located above or near
t h e liquid surface, and connected t o t h e
rake a r m s which a r e hinged t o the drive
structure, and thus allow t h e rakes t o be
raised when torque is excessive.
Underflow Removal
The underflow withdrawal feature
consists of t h e transitional section from t h e
main tank body t o the underflow slurry
piping, and t h e means of pumping t h e
slurry. This is a s t e e p angled cone in t h e
bottom, c e n t e r of t h e tank with a bridge
supported rake drive mechanism. In tanks
with
column
supported
rake
drive
mechanisms, i t is a trench surrounding t h e
column with multiple outlets t o t h e
underflow piping.
Peripheral
discharge
is
used
sometimes where slurry rheology and r a t e
of underflow withdrawal permit outward
raking, and t h e economics a r e favorable. A
flat-bottom tank is used and a collection
trough is located a t t h e tank perimeter t o
direct the thickened slurry into the
underflow piping.

CONCENTRATION AND DEWATERING CIRCUITS

(8.04)
10

(30.48)
100

(304.88)
1000

TANK DIA. (METERS) FT.

Figurc 8. Available Torque vs. Tank Diameter for the Normal Range of K
Values. Standard Eimco Drive Torque Ratings are Noted.

CHARACTERISTICS OF SEDIMENTATION-BASED EQUIPMENT

DRIVE PLATFORM

TORQUE ARM

TORQUE CABLES

Figure 10. Eimco Swing L i f t Thickener. Center Column Support Shown, Bridge
Support Similar.

121

122

CONCENTRATION AND DEWATERING CIRCUITS

C o n e and t r e n c h s c r a p e r s a r e used t o
h e l p m a i n t a i n a homogeneous slurry flow to
t h e underflow piping. T h e y a r e usually p a r t
of t h e r a k e structure. Small s u r f a c e a r e a
c l a r i f i e r s a n d t h i c k e n e r s used i n light-duty
applications, w h e r e c o a r s e solids a r e n o t
present and t h e thickened pulp i s s t i l l fluid
a n d flows freely, m a y n o t require o r u s e
c o n e scrapers. This is a l s o t h e case where a
small diameter sedimentation tank h a s a
conical b o t t o m t h a t is 60 d e g r e e s o r
greater.
Centrifugal
slurry
or
positive
displacement pumps a r e used to t r a n s p o r t
t h e underflow slurry a w a y f r o m t h e
s e d i m e n t a t i o n unit. Occasionally, gravity
discharge through a flow-control valve is
used. Provisions t o flush o r bypass plugged
underflow lines m u s t b e installed to allow
quick c o r r e c t i o n - of u p s e t s a n d insure t h a t
underflow c a n always b e removed t o
prevent solids filling t h e basin, stalling a
mechanism, and discontinuing operation.
These provisions usually consist of forward
and back flushing with high pressure w a t e r
o r process liquor, and compressed air.
Underflow pumping has four basic
arrangements: (1) T h e underflow pump at
t h e tank p e r i m e t e r with buried piping from
t h e discharge cone, (2) t h e underflow pump

a t t h e tank perimeter o r directly under t h e


discharge c o n e with a c c e s s a n d piping f r o m
t h e discharge c o n e in a tunnel o r e l e v a t e d
tank, (3) t h e underflow pump a t t h e t a n k
p e r i m e t e r with a peripheral discharge from
t h e tank sidewall, and (4) t h e underflow
pump in t h e c e n t e r of t h e t a n k o r a t t h e
p e r i m e t e r with center-column pumping.
Overflow Collection
Clarified
overflow
is
normally
removed via a launder which c o l l e c t s t h e
flow a n d provides transport t o t h e discharge
point. T h e liquid flows i n t o t h e launder
over a V-notch o r level f l a t weir, o r through
submerged orifices in t h e launder bottom.
Submerged pipes with orifices a r e o f t e n
used in applications where a n ice-cap f o r m s
in t h e winter o r additional clarified liquor
s t o r a g e is provided a t various levels above
t h e e f f l u e n t pipe.
The launders (Figure 11) c a n be
peripheral a n d l o c a t e d inside o r outside of
t h e tank. Radial launders a r c used when
uniform upward liquid flow is desired. A
v a r i e t y of launder a r r a n g e m e n t s a r e
possible t o provide a desired overflow r a t e
o r weir length p e r unit of s u r f a c e a r e a . An
example would be a n annular launder inside
t h e t a n k with overflow feeding f r o m both

Figure 1I. Overflow Collection C e n t e r , Periphery, Radial.

CHARACTERISTICS OF SEDIMENTATION-BASEDEQUIPMENT
sides a n d radial launders c o n n e c t i n g t o t h e
peripheral launder.
Some of t h e newer inclined-plate
clarifiers h a v e specific collecting d e v i c e s
t h a t a r c designed to f i t t h e particular
c l e m e n t configurations.
F c c d S y s t c ~ n sand Fccd Conditioning
F e e d systc!ns f o r a sedimentation
basin consist of t h e feed slurry launder o r
pipe which t e r m i n a t e s a t a c e n t e r fccd well
whose primary purpose i s to dissipate
energy and produce a "stilling" o r "gradual"
transition into t h e main settling basin.
Where
flocculants a r e used in
thickening applications, they may b e added
t o t h e launder o r directly i n t o a specially
designed fccd wcll. Launder flocculation
requires t h e addition of baffles or similar
means t o properly mix and promote floc
s t r u c t u r e growth without undue shear t h a t
will destroy t h e structure. Multiple-point
floc addition, with adequately diluted
flocculant solution, also helps promote
optimum performance of t h e flocculant.
High r a t e thickeners have a specially
designed f e e d well t h a t maximizes t h e
efficiency of using flocculants. The highHANDRAIL

123

r a t e fecd wells a r e designed t o disperse


flocculants thoroughly into t h e feed and
t r a n s f e r t h e flocculated slurry i n t o t h e
settling zone of t h e thickener without
destruction of t h e newly formed flocs.
Dispersion and mixing c a n be done
hydraulically or mechanically.
Where coagulants and/or flocculants
a r e used in clarifiers, t h e r e a r e a number of
feed wcll f e a t u r e s t o promote efficient
flocculation
and
maximum
overflow
clarity. Flocculating clarifiers (Figure 12)
a r e designed with a large circular fecd well
which contains a slow speed mixer t o a i d in
solids flocculation and floc growth ratc.
Coagulants a n d flocculants a r e added
upstream of t h e fced well in a flash mix
tank o r in-line in a turbulent flow region,
but c a n also b e added i n t o t h e fced well if
provisions a r e made t o distribute and
disperse them efficiently.
Solids-recirculation clarifiers (Figure
13) have fced wells designed t o recirculate
previously flocculated and settled solids
i n t o a mechanically mixed flocculating fecd
wcll. This type of unit increases t h e solids
concentration in t h e reaction wcll which
increases the particle c o n t a c t s per unit
timc, a n d thus the r a t c a n d efficiency of
flocculation.
In light duty applications,

COAGULANT ADDED HERE


APPLY ALL CHEWCALS
EXCEPTWAaUUNTHERE

SLUWE SUNP SCRAPER

Figure 12. Flocculating C l a r i f i e r with Mixing Turbine.

SLUDGE LINE

CONCENTRATION AND DEWATERING CIRCUITS

such a s softening and water treatment,


internal recirculation of s e t t l e d solids is
employed. A d r a f t t u b e o r similar system is
used t o l i f t t h e solids into t h e reaction
well. A turbine above t h e d r a f t t u b e both
pumps s e t t l e d solids and provides mixing f o r
flocculation. In metallurgical applications,
where t h e s e t t l e d solids a r e more difficult
t o resuspend by m e a n s of a d r a f t t u b e , a
portion of t h e clarifier underflow is pumped
externally back i n t o t h e reaction well. In
internal recirculation units, t h e feed e n t e r s
i n t o t h e d r a f t tube where i t c o m e s i n t o
c o n t a c t with t h e recirculating solids.
Coagulants a n d flocculants a r e added i n t o
t h e feed line, t h e d r a f t tube o r into t h e
reaction well a t a point n e a r t h e t i p of t h e
turbine.
T h e reaction well i s usually a conical
shape, increasing in a r e a f r o m t o p t o
bottom. T h e theory behind this design i s t o
provide decreasing velocity gradients inside
t h e reaction well t o reduce shear a s t h e
f l o c s grow a n d settle; a n d also t o provide
decreasing rise r a t e s e x t e r n a l t o t h e
reaction well t o improve overflow clarity.
Tank Covers
Covered tanks a r e used when i t i s
necessary o r desired t o prevent h e a t loss
from t h e s u r f a c e o f t h e unit, vapor control,
o r contamination of process liquors. Bridge

type mechanisms a r e relatively e a s y t o


c o v e r (Figure 14), a s t h e bridge i s readily
available t o support one-third of t h e c o v e r ,
a n d c o v e r live load weight.
Covering a
center
column
supported
mechanism
presents a challenge of e i t h e r having a
c e n t e r post through the drive o r of
providing a self-supporting roof. A selfsupporting c o v e r c a n b e used t o support t h e
drive a n d mechanism in any size of t a n k
t h u s eliminating the bridge o r column
requirement.
Inclined P l a t e s
Inclined-pla t c scdirnenta tion devices
(Figure 15) h a v e achieved increased use for
clarification.
Thc devices a r c ccz~itained
within a tank a n d consist of multiple banks
of platcs inclined a t 45-60 d c g r e c s f r o m
horizontal and s e p a r a t e d by a f e w
centimeters. T h e f e e d slurry passes i n t o
e a c h inclined c h a n n e l a n d t h e solids h a v e t o
s e t t l e only a few c e n t i m e t e r s t o reach a
base s u r f a c e a n d slide t o a collection zone
beneath t h e bank of plates. The c l a r i f i e d
liquor passes upward t o a n overflow
collection device.
Theoretically, t h e
inclined p l a t e s a d d additional separation
a r e a e q u a l t o t h e sum of t h e horizontal
p r o j e c t e d p l a t e a r e a of t h e individual
plates. This r e s u l t s in increased c a p a c i t y
p e r unit of plane area.

CHARACTERISTICS OF SEDIMENTATION-BASED EQUIPMENT

125

Figure 14. Thirty Meter Diameter Bridge-Supported Cover for Temperature and
Vapor Control.
prevent the floating "scum" from reaching
the overflow launder.
The surface
skimmer, usually attached to the rake
structure, rotates and skims the liquid
surface, directing the scum t o a collecting
box t h a t drains t o a n outside line for
removal.
References
1

I
I

PROJECTED AREA A,
UNDERFLOW

SOLIDS

P = PARTICLEOR FLOC wlrn


S ~ L I N G
VELOCITYV,

Figure 15. Basic Concept of the


Lamella-Type Clarifier.
Surface Skimming Devices
A surface skimmer is usually installed
in applications where a component of the
feed floats t o the surface of t h e
sedimentation unit and will eventually
contaminate t h e overflow liquid. An inner
retaining baffle is installed t o contain and

Baczek, F.A., 1985, "Equipment Design &


Process Consideration in Flocculation &
Sedimentation,"
Presented
at
Engineering Foundation Conference on
Flocculation,
Sedimentation
&
Consolidation, Sea Island, GA, Jan. 27Feb.1.
Dale, L.A., and Dahlstrom, D.A., 1965,
"Design & Operation of Thickening
Equipment f o r Closed-Water Circuits in
Coal Preparation Plants," presented at
A.I.M.E. Meeting, Chicago, Feb. !4-18.
King, D.L., 1980, "Thickeners," Minerals
Processing Plant Design, Mular, A.L.,
and Bahppu, R.B. ed., A.I.M.E.,
New
York, pp; 541-577.
Perry, R.H., and Green, D., Chemical
Engineer's Handbook, 6th ed., Section
19, McGraw-Hill, New York.