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Subscripts Literature Cited

a = apparent Carberry, J. J., White, D.,lnd. Eng. Chem.. 6 1 (7), 27 (1969).


c = center of catalyst particle Mears. D.E., Chem. Eng. Sci., 26, 1361 (1971a).
Mears, D.E.,h d . Eng. Chem., ProcessDes. Dev., 10, 541 (1971b).
f = value a t catalyst bed outlet Mears, D. E., J. Catal., 20, 127 ( 1 9 7 1 ~ ) .
h = heat Olson, R.W., Schuler, R . W., Smith, J. M., Chem. Eng. Prog., 46, 614 (1950).
i = value a t catalyst bed inlet Suzuki, M.. Smith, J. M., Chem. Eng. J., 3, 256 (1972).
m = mass Valstar, J. M., Bik, J. D.,van den Berg, P. J., Trans. Inst. Chem. Eng. (Lon-
don), 47, CE 136 (1969).
0 = value well upstream of reactor inlet Votruba. A,, Hlavacek, V., Marek, M., Chem. Eng. Sci., 27, 1845 (1972).
p = particle or pressure Young, L. C., Finlayson, B. A , , Ind. Eng. Chem., Fundam., 12, 412 (1973).
s = a t catalyst particle surface
w = a t reactor wall Receiued for reuieu: J u n e 24, 1974
z = axial 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 traction of the uranium by means of a sulfuric acid leach in


the presence of manganese dioxide, the filtered pregnant li-
T h e existence of concentration zones within a thickener quor is solvent extracted, and the barren acid solution is
was shown by Coe and Clevenger in 1916. In general, three treated with lime.
main zones exist, namely the clear water zone a t the top, The stoichiometrically calculated composition of the
the settling zone in the middle, and the compaction zone a t plant slime was in weight per cent: Fe(OH)Z, 10.0%;
the bottom of the thickener. Coe and Clevenger compared Fe(OH),, 11.9%; Mn(OH):I, 10.8%; CaS04, 58.5%; lime im-
the settling process occurring in both batch settling and purities, 8.8%.
continuous thickening and they formulated a method for The pulp used consisted of the plant slime minus most of
sizing thickeners from batch settling results. Talmage and the coarser particle sized lime impurities. Micrographs re-
Fitch slightly modified the theory and test procedure in vealed t h a t the suspension consisted of fairly discrete par-
1955, on the basis of the theory of sedimentation p u t for- ticles of iron hydroxide and transparent crystals of calcium
ward by Kynch (1952). sulfate (Turner 1972).
It has. however, been shown (Dunstan and Scott, 1969; Equipment. The continuous thickening experiments
Scott and Paulsen, 1970; Cross, 1963) t h a t substantial flow were done on a 7-ft diameter pilot plant, with central feed
patterns can exist in a thickener, particularly the settling and underflow and peripheral overflow. The thickener was
zone, and this circulation has definite effects on the process run in closed circuit with the underflow and overflow being
of sedimentation. Nevertheless, the batch settling data of combined in the stock tank to make up the feed pulp. The
both Coe and Clevenger and Talmage and Fitch have been feed pulp was circulated through a steady head tank to
reliably used for sizing thickeners for many years. maintain a constant feed rate. The level in the stock tank
Many of the laboratory scale experiments in thickening was controlled, if necessary, by make-up water on a ball
have used settling tanks with diameters of 30 cm or less. valve control.
Under these circumstances flow patterns have not been re- The equipment and circuit diagram are shown in Figure
ported as being of much significance. In order to consider 1. A rake mechanism was incorporated with a variable
the effects not present in laboratory scale equipment, a 7-ft speed drive and consisted of angled rubber pads mounted
diameter pilot plant was subjected to extensive investiga- below two revolving arms. Overflow was effected through
tion. 88 0.5-in. diameter holes drilled in the metal perimeter.
The nature of the flocculated pulps has been discussed The overflow could be adjusted in sections by blocking the
by many workers (Michaels and Bolger, 1962; Scott, 1968a) holes with rubber stoppers.
and this will not be repeated here. A conventional shallow feed well was used, with a hori-
zontal baffle placed below the feed well to reduce the
Experimental Section scouring effect. The feed distributor and baffle were
Material. T h e slurry was obtained as a waste product mounted on the central shaft driving the rake mechanism,
from a uranium processing plant. After oxidation and ex- which revolved.

Ind. Eng. Chem., Fundam., Vol. 15, No. 1, 1976 23


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
Feed stock
the circuit. Coe and Clevenger batch tests were done, in a
Temperature
constant temperature laboratory, after each alternate run
control and if any evidence of aging was present the pulp in the
Figure 1. Circuit flow diagram pilot plant was replaced with fresh pulp.
Continuous steady-state runs were done a t four different
inlet flow rates, with three or four separate runs a t each
The thickener and associated equipment were installed flow rate, covering a range of inlet concentrations and tank
in a laboratory equipped with thermostatically controlled conditions from underloading to full capacity.
fan heaters, and all the experiments were conducted a t con-
stant temperature. These ranged from 23.0 to 24.5OC. In
Results
addition, the stock tank was equipped with three 1-kW
heating elements, activated by a simple on-off temperature Coe and Clevenger Batch Settling. The pulp exhibited
controller controlling to within 1.5OC. This equipment was the two types of settling classified by Michaels and Bolger
used in addition to the laboratory fan heaters, particularly (19621, namely dilute and intermediate, with the concen-
for heating any make-up water. trated pulp not being subjected to batch tests.
Measuring Equipment. The inlet flow was measured on Six representative tests, covering the range of concentra-
a rotameter and recorded using a transducer measuring the tions tested, are shown in Figure 2. The switch from dilute
pressure drop across an orifice plate. The underflow rate to hindered settling was very noticeable, with an induction
was calculated by timing a measured volume, and the over- period being required for the formation of floc particles.
flow flow rate was calculated by difference. These measure- This was clearly seen a t concentrations above 0.02 g/cm:'
ments could be checked by timing a measured volume of and showed a pattern of increasing induction time with in-
the overflow and controlling the stock tank level with creasing concentration.
make-up water, which was done during tracer tests. The test of the modified Richardson and Zaki equation
The inlet concentration was recorded using a specially (Richardson and Zaki, 1954; Michaels and Bolger, 1962)
built turbidimeter, and the underflow concentration was u =U O ( ~- kc)' 65 (11
recorded by both a radioactive isotope density measure-
ment and oven-dried samples. Liquid residence times were is shown in Figure 3 for representative batch tests. These
obtained from tracer tests using both radioactive sodium- show a good straight line fit up to a concentration of 0.02
24 and rhodamine BN dye. Density height profiles within g/cm3. This is in agreement with the observations and de-
the tank were measured using a submersible radioactive fines the boundary between dilute and intermediate set-
isotope density gauge. This determined local densities tling.
using a collimated beam across a 3-in. path length. Both The results of uo and k taken from batch tests a t four
density gauges were built in the department and used Am- different temperatures are shown in Table I. These results
ericium-241. show a constancy of k with temperature, and a strong vari-
In an effort to observe flow patterns within the tank, an ation of uo with temperature. This variation is significantly
open perspex section, immersed in the tank, was used. The greater than expected from pure viscosity considerations,
section was built like a wedge with sides along tank radii so and necessitated the strict temperature control during the
as to disturb flow patterns as little as possible and extend- steady-state runs.
ing in depth to just above the rake mechanism. I t had a Temperature differences in the batch and continuous
perspex bottom and sides, but an open top to make obser- tests were corrected for by using the reduced settling veloc-
vations possible. A t one point the flow was accelerated and ity and reduced flux curve (Shannon et al., 1963; Scott,
forced against the side by a baffle, and flow patterns could 1 9 6 8 ~ )The
. value of h was taken as 18.00 cm.l/g for all cal-
easily he seen, even in the densest and slowest moving culations. The reduced flux curves in Figures 11-14 repre-
pulps. This section was also particularly useful for siphon- sent all the hatch tests taken throughout the continuous
ing samples out of the tank. runs.
A sedimentation tray with separated compartments was Talmage and Fitch Batch Settling. Talmage and Fitch
used to measure radial settling in the tank. Built as thin as settling experiments were performed on the pulp a t various
possible, with a lid that slid off sideways in order to cause concentrations. The method of obtaining settling rate con-
minimum disturbance, the tray could be submersed to any centration data from such curves, and the ranges of validi-
depth. The material collected in the compartments could ty, have been well presented (Talmage and Fitch, 1955;
be examined and weighed. More details of the measuring Fitch, 1966).
equipment have been published elsewhere (Turner 1972). The Talmage and Fitch and Coe and Clevenger tests
General Method of Operation of Thickener. During were done simultaneously, and the value of u g thus ob-
experimental runs, the tank system was left running in tained used in any conversion of Talmage and Fitch results
closed circuit 24 hr a day, in the temperature-controlled to reduced units.
laboratory. No difficulty was achieved with the choking of The settling velocity as a function of concentration
lines because of the nature of the slime, and steady-state showed a very strong dependence on the initial concentra-
runs were easily achieved. Monitoring the steady-state con- tion. This is shown in Figure 4, where the Talmage and
dition was done with the inlet concentration. Steady-state Fitch settling rate concentration curves are compared with
conditions were changed as required by changing under- the Coe and Clevenger settling rate concentration curve. In

24 Ind. Eng. Chern., Fundarn., Vol. 15, No. 1, 1976


40
c
z
:. 30
L:

;IO A‘
2 1 I
u
10 30 50 70
4
0 02
Soilds concentrotion
0 04
gmslcc
I

Time minutes Figure 4. Reduced settling velocities for Coe and Clevenger and
Figure 2. Coe and Clevenger batch settling curves. Initial concen- Talmage and Fitch methods: A, Talmage and Fitch, initial concen-
trations (g/cm3): A, 0.0087; B, 0.0153; C, 0.0209; D, 0.0257; E, tration = 0.0087 g/cm3; B, Talmage and Fitch, initial concentra-
0.0342; F, 0.0340. 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
H r

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
12 l./min.

density
I 0.01 0.02 0.03
I I
0.04 profile

Concentration gmslcc
Figure 6. Velocity and density profile for the “settler” mode of‘
Figure 3. Test of the modified Richardson and Zaki equation for operation. Arrow lengths represent flow velocities.
feed and settling zone material: 0 , feed material 24.5OC; A, feed
material 22.8OC; .,settling zone material 22.8OC.
T h e transition from “settler” to “filter” mode was dra-
Table I. Constants for Modified Richardson and Zaki matic, occurring at the throughput where the thickener was
Equation a t maximum capacity. Any further increase in thickener
throughput resulted in a sliming thickener.
Temp, ’C u o , cmimin h , cm3/g T h e main difference between the two modes, besides
24.5 4.77 18.1 their throughputs, was in the flow patterns that existed in
22.6 3.39 17.7 the thickener. In “settler” mode large circulating flow pat-
21.0 2.72 17.9 terns existed in the settling and clear water zones, while in
20.0 2.16 17.0 “filter” mode circulating flow in these zones was almost
negligible as can be seen from Figure 5 . These differences
all probability this is due t o some segregation during set- in flow patterns had a significant effect on a number of sec-
tling (as found in the continuous settling). For this reason a ondary parameters, particularly in the settling zone where
Talmage and Fitch flux curve was not drawn. the depth and concentration of the settling zone increased
Continuous Thickening. Flow patterns and zones with- drastically as the circulation decreased. In fact the “filter”
in the thickener were very easily seen using the perspex mode derived its name from the very deep settling zone ex-
wedge and were very well defined. Under all conditions of isting under almost stagnant conditions and appearing to
t h e thickener in normal operation three zones could be eas- act as a filter bed for the feed material. This is also shown
ily distinguished, namely clear water zone, settling zone, in Figure 5.
and compaction zone. T h e steady-state runs showed the “Settler” Mode of Operation. T h e general condition of
thickener to operate under two distinct modes of operation, operation of “settler” mode is illustrated in Figure 6, show-
characterized by different types of flow patterns and densi- ing the zones, circulating flow patterns, and density profile.
ty profiles. Both modes, called “settler” and “filter” were T h e feed to the thickener entered the tank vertically
shown to be stable operating conditions, corresponding to downward through the inlet distributor and was diluted by
the thickener being underloaded and a t full capacity, re- the circulating water from the clear water zone. This feed
spectively. then turned horizontal and entered the thickener itself a t

Ind. Eng. Chem., Fundam., Vol. 15, No. 1, 1976 25


teed

Units

Figure 7. Velocity and density profiles for the “filter” mode of op-
eration. Arrow lengths represent flow velocities. I /
4
10 20 30 40 50 60 70
its compatible density level, forming the settling zone. This Time mlnutel

cascading underwater waterfall effect has been seen by a Figure 8. Liquid residence-time density function curves; settler
number of other authors. mode feed flow rate = 11.8 I./min; filter mode feed flow rate = 11.9
l./min.
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 to the horizontal flow and the first tracer appeared in the
definite interfaces between them. overflow after 4 min. This was the result of approximately
Under “settler” mode the circulation of clear water from two equal time delays, namely in the settling zone from the
the clear water zone was very high, being as high as 2.6 center to the perimeter and the flow a t the perimeter from
times the volumetric feed flow. This was calculated from the settling zone t o the overflow. T h e peak in the residence
the dilution of the feed as it entered the thickener by si- time density function curve appears after about 8 min. By
phoning samples into the wedge. As this diluted feed en- this time the fastest circulating flow in the thickener had
tered the settling zone it spread very quickly toward the completed two cycles, giving the appearance of tracer com-
perimeter, with a decrease in horizontal velocity as the pe- pletely mixed throughout the settling and clear water
rimeter was approached compatible with the increased area zones. The liquid residence time distribution is thus not
available for flow. At the perimeter the water flowed up- dissimilar t o that of a perfectly mixed vessel with an initial
ward into the clear water zone leaving most of the solids delay.
behind in the settling zone. T h e circulation back t o the “Filter” Mode of Operation. T h e operation of the
center originated from the perimeter, with a n increase in thickener under “filter” mode is illustrated in Figure 7. As
horizontal velocity as the center was approached. At the in “settler” mode the feed entered the thickener vertically
perimeter part of the upflow from the settling zone to clear from the inlet distributor, and then entered the settling
water zone did not recirculate to the center. This consti- zone horizontally at its compatible density level. Under fil-
tuted the overflow. ter mode the settling zone was very deep and the feed en-
Vertical velocity profiles existed in both the settling and tered over almost the entire depth. T h e settling zone ex-
clear water zones, as illustrated in Figure 6. In addition a tended from the compaction zone almost to the surface,
horizontal velocity profile existed in both these zones and leaving a very narrow clear water zone.
could be seen by viewing the thickener in plan. A liquid T h e rate of circulation of clear water was very low, and
tracer added to the feed showed random maximum veloci- thus very little dilution of the incoming feed occurred. T h e
ties as the tracer front moved out non-uniformly from the rate of circulating water t o fresh feed was approximately
center of the thickener. This uneven tracer front was visi- 0.2, thus resulting in a settling zone concentration of much
ble in both settling and clear water zones. higher concentration than under settler mode. Similarly,
T h e flow through the settling and clear water zones ap- the flow from the center out radially was only to replace
peared to be laminar. No mixing or transfer of material be- solids that settled into the compaction zone and water
tween or within the two streams occurred except a t the flowing to the overflow. Thus the horizontal flow in the set-
feed distributor and at the perimeter. tling zone was slow in comparison of t h a t of settler mode.
In its passage from the center t o the perimeter the feed T h e flow out radially was laminar with a vertical velocity
appeared to undergo batch settling with the interface be- profile as shown in Figure 7. Close to the interface with the
tween the settling zone and clear water zone becoming bet- clear water zone flow was small and random. An additional
ter defined as the concentration of the settling zone in- horizontal velocity profile occurred similar to the one for
creased. The upflow a t the perimeter carried particles from “settler” mode.
the cloudy interface to the overflow, giving the “settler” In “filter” mode the settling zone was both much greater
mode a relatively turbid overflow. T h e turbidity of the ov- in depth and much higher in concentration than in “set-
erflow decreased as the concentration of the settling zone tler” mode. The higher concentration was due in part to
increased. These are phenomena that had parallels in the the lower circulation rate of clear water, and in part to a
batch settling experiments (Turner, 1972). higher feed concentration as the throughput increased.
Generally the settling zone was of uniform depth with ra- T h e settling zone was of uniform concentration and
dius, but under conditions where the settling zone was very structure throughout and appeared to consist of a coherent
narrow a slight wedge shape was noticed, with the settling mass of floc particles, all interconnected and showing elas-
zone thinning toward the perimeter. This would be expect- tic properties. These acted as a filter bed for the liquid
ed if there was batch settling from this zone. which percolated out of it, showing a sharply defined inter-
The liquid residence time density function is shown in face and a crystal-clear clear-water zone. T h e sedimenta-
Figure 8 illustrating clearly the circulating flow. These were tion from the settling zone appeared t o have the same sur-
obtained from dye and radioactive tracers in the liquid. face and flow structure as those found in batch settling
Due t o the large circulating flow within the thickener and tests.
the narrow settling zone the feed spread very quickly to the Thus during the radial flow in the settling zone, batch
perimeter. Under the actual experimental conditions the settling occurred. With a uniform settling zone concentra-
feed reached the perimeter in 1.5-2 min, and the first trac- tion, settling was proportional to area, and this governed
er appeared back a t the center in 3.5-4 min. T h e upflow the flow velocities. T h e horizontal velocity decreased very
from the perimeter to the overflow was slow in comparison quickly with radius, and solid tracer material in the settling

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


Table 11. Results of the Sedimentation Tray Tests
Test A B C
Mode of
operation Settler Filter Filter
Position of
tray Bottom of settling zone Bottom of settling zone Top of settling zone
Compartment Sedimentation Sedimentation 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 t o approach the perimeter asymptotically as


E
the horizontal velocity decreased to zero.
Analysis of the settling zone pulp gave two important re- ,E-
sults. 90

(i) Sedimentation tray tests, t o be discussed later,


showed evidence of segregation of the feed material as it
entered the settling zone, with the coarser material fed in
a t the bottom of the settling zone and settling out more 105
quickly.
(ii) Coe and Clevenger settling tests on the settling zone
and feed material were done. These show flocs from the
settling zone t o have a significantly lower settling rate than
the feed pulp. T h e test of the Richardson and Zaki equa- 125

tion (Figure 3) shows the feed a n d settling zone pulps to


have equal Stoke’s settling velocities (intercept) b u t differ-
ent proportionality constants h (determined from the
slope). T h e increase in the proportionality constant shows
a decrease in the density of the floc particle. This differ-
ence appears t o be due to segregation in the batch settling,
which, if taken into account, would in part a t 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. T h e two reduced
flux curves for both feed and settling zone material are
shown in Figures 11-14. Figure 9. Progress of solid tracer material through the thickener
With this segregation occurring, the method used to cal- under “settler” mode of operation.
culate the rate of circulation of clear water is slightly in
error and tends t o overestimate the circulation.
In the clear water zone, flow patterns showed very little In contrast, when the sedimentation tray was situated
circulation. General flow was toward the perimeter, with high in the settling zone (“filter” mode), Table I1 shows
the overflow originating from percolation out of the settling fairly even settlement per unit area with no observed dif-
zone a t all points in the thickener. ferences in material settled near the center and near the
T h e difference in flow conditions between “filter” and perimeter. This is to be expected from a uniform settling
“settler” modes is clearly seen from the liquid residence zone, and shows the feed material t o undergo a vertical seg-
time density functions in Figure 8. Under the experimental regation with coarse material entering a t the bottom of the
conditions, the first tracer in the overflow appeared after a settling zone and settling out fairly rapidly.
time delay of 4.5 t o 7.5 min. This originated from tracer The Compaction Zone and U n d e r f l o w Discharge.
material that percolated out of the settling zone close t o Removal of settled material in the compaction zone by t h e
the feed distributor and then flowed directly t o the over- underflow occurred through a cone shaped discharge with
flow. As the flow in the settling zone progressed out radial- the underflow discharge as the apex. T h e material in the
ly, so more tracer percolated into the clear water zone and compaction zone appeared t o flow slowly to the underflow
reached the overflow, until a maximum in the curve was in the cone shaped draw-off, rather than settle vertically
obtained after about 25 min. and be scraped by the rake mechanism to the discharge. In
Sedimentation T r a y Tests. T h e phenomenon of segre- fact, cessation of the rake movement appeared to have lit-
gation during sedimentation with the coarser particles set- tle effect on the underflow discharge.
tling out first (Scott and Paulsen, 1970) was observed in T h e path of solid tracer material in Figure 9 illustrates
the present work using the sedimentation tray. Under both t h e cone draw-off and the effect of the rakes. T h e tracer
“settler” and “filter” modes, when the tray was situated a t was fresh pulp which was green, old pulp being brown. T h e
the interface between the settling and compaction zones, importance of rakes, however, must necessarily vary with
definite segregation was observed with the coarser particles the type and grind of the material in the thickener.
settling out nearer the center of the thickener. Table I1 T h e elimination of water from the floc particles occurred
shows the decrease in settlement per unit area as the pe- in the compaction zone (hCun&rflow > 1) due t o the weight
rimeter is approached. of overlying solids. This could be seen from the water

Ind. Eng. Chem., Fundam., Vol. 15, No. 1, 1976 27


-
O3 [ : I---,- teed

A teed flux curve


B settling zone flux curve
6 -

9 -

12 -

A
. I5 -
E, 0.4 0.8 1.2 1.6 2.0
-I8 settiin> Solids volume fraction kc underflow
concent rotions concentrations
0,

=8 21 - Figure 12. Operating lines of runs no. 5, 6, and 7 (inlet flow rate =
12.2 l./min): - - -, run no. 5: settler mode; run no. 6: settler e.,

g 24-
mode; -, run no. 7: filter mode.
-a
Q
27 -

f 3ob c \ [ teed
concentrat ions A feed flux curve
(Ij
lll
lll
lll
ll B settling zone flux curve
0 04 08 12 16 20 24
Reduced solids concentration kc
Figure 10. Density profiles (or “settler” and “filter” modes (runs 5 F 0.04
and 7): 0 , filter mode half way t o the perimeter; 0,filter mode at
the centre of the tank; A , settler mode half way to the perimeter; 0
CL
A. settler mode at the centre of the tank.
1 I i I i h
-
0.4 0.8 1.2 1.6
settlinb ion; Solids volume traction kc zzx
teed concentrations concentrations
toncenlratlons
0.08 Figure 13. Operating lines of runs no. 8, 9, and 10 (inlet flow rate
A teed flux curve = 11.1 l,/min): -, run no. 8: filter mode; - - -, run no. 9: between
B settling zone flux curve settler and filter mode;. . . run No. 10: settler modes.
a,

p 0.04

V
teed
concentrations
d 0 08
A feed tlux curve
:I=
i D

B settling zone flux curve


04
iettling. zone‘
OB
Sollds volume fraction kc -- undertlow -
-
concentrations concentrations 2 004
Figure 11. Operating lines of runs no. 1 , 2 , and 4 (inlet flow rate = V
13.5 l./min): -, run no. 1: thickener sliming; - - -, run no. 2: filter a
mode;. . .., run no. 4: settler mode.
0.4 1.2 1.6 2.0
kettling. zone’ Solids volume fraction kc Lun&rflor .
trapped under the bottom of the observation wedge. T h e concentrations concentrations

bulk of displaced water percolated up, with a n occasional 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
channel formed to assist this upflow. These channels were
mode,. . .-,run no. 14: settler mode.
destroyed by the disturbances due t o the rake.
Density Profiles. T h e density profile and flow patterns
were taken simultaneously in all the experiments. Two re- centrations, and the underflow concentrations are also
sults are shown in Figure 10 for the thickener under “set- shown on these graphs.
tler” and “filter” modes, respectively. As noted previously,
under all conditions the feed entered the thickener at its Discussion
compatible density level. Density profiles taken a t differ- Under normal operating conditions the sedimentation
ent points in the tank showed no significant differences. tank consisted of three zones: clear liquid zone on the top,
Operating Conditions Relative to the Flux Curves. the settling zone in the center, and the compaction zone
Operating lines for all the runs are shown relative to the re- thickening the discharge.
duced flux curves of the feed and the settling zone pulps re- Sedimentation out of the settling zone appeared as batch
spectively in Figures 11-14. I t can clearly be seen t h a t the settling with segregation. T h e coarser particles settled out
“filter” modes correspond t o the highest throughputs. Also first in both “filter” and “settler” modes, leaving a settling
we may note t h a t the operating lines for all the “filter” zone consisting of feed material minus the coarser fraction
modes lie below the tangent line to the feed flux curve and of particle sizes. T h e settling zone pulp thus displayed
above the tangent line for the settling zone flux curve. This lower batch settling characteristics from t h a t of the feed
is t o be expected as the upper flux curve is not constructed pulp, but settling out of this zone nevertheless appeared as
for the true settling zone material while the operating line batch settling. Flow velocities were sufficiently slow not to
is not drawn for the correct settling zone flux (as some ma- really affect the settling process. The batch settling had su-
terial has bypassed the settling zone). There was insuffi- perimposed on it the effect of the underflow which in-
cient information to draw the correct operating line, due t o creased the batch settling flux by a certain amount.
the feed material containing a distribution of particle sizes. Results in Relation to the Flux Theory. T h e flux
The amount of material bypassing the settling zone is thus theory has been well presented by many workers (Robins,
not known. T h e feed concentrations, the settling zone con- 1964, Jernqvist, 1965). T h e theory is criticized for the fact

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


Table 111. Coe and Clevenger Flux Theory Results
________ _ ____
Flux theory
Coe and Actual results
Clevenger Upper Lower
limiting conjugate conjugate Throughput Settling Actual throughput
concn concn concentration Reduced zone concn as a 70of the predicted
Reduced Reduced Reduced units, Reduced Coe and Flux
Run no. units, kc units, kc units, kc Gk/Au, units k c Clevenger theory
_

2 0.522 0.075 0.52 0.0411 0.32 77.5 77.5


7 0.513 0.075 0.52 0.0408 0.36 77.1 77.7
8 0.612 0.075 0.49 0.0442 0.39 77.4 80.5
12 0.684 0.080 0.49 0.0435 0.48 73.7 80.5
13 0.628 0.080 0.49 0.0423 0.41 70.0 74.7

t h a t its basic assumptions are not valid for industrial thick- tion of “filter” mode of operation, also give consistent re-
eners and hence the predicted concentration zones in the sults. Actual throughputs are 70-80% of those predicted by
thickener did not occur experimentally. Capacities did Coe and Clevenger. T h e formula of Coe and Clevenger may
show agreement. he readily transposed to read (Tory, 1961)
I t 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. I t is the relationship between the
flux curve and this line and the association of various zones This relationship of Coe and Clevenger can be derived
in the thickener with this graph which is unique to the flux from the basic assumptions of the flux theory, which helps
theory. to understand the agreement between throughputs and
T h e basic assumption of the flux theory is the postulate throughputs calculated by both methods. Thus eq 2, a t a
of the feed being distributed evenly and continuously specific concentration, defines the capacity for both meth-
across the entire area of the thickener. Then due to the set- ods. T h e flux theory, however, defines the capacity of the
tling flux a t the feed concentration being greater than the thickener as limited by the minimum value of eq 2, which
feed flux, the concentration immediately drops to a lower occurs a t the lower conjugate concentration. Coe and Clev-
concentration (upper conjugate concentration) where the ener define thickener capacity as the minimum value of eq
settling flux equals the feed flux. This is contrary to the 2 between the feed concentration and the highest concen-
concept of the feed entering a t its compatible density tration of free settling pulps. These two minimum values
(Fitch and Lutz, 1960; Sawyer, 1956), as seen in the present are the same, unless the minimum value of the flux curve is
work. With the upper conjugate concentration lower than a t a concentration either lower than the feed concentration
the feed concentration we would expect the feed to cascade or higher than the limiting concentration of free settling
t o a point below this zone and then enter a t its compatible pulps. Thus generally we would expect equivalent through-
density level. T h e floc bed a t the upper conjugate concen- puts from both methods.
tration, if it exists, must then exist above the feed position In the present work the capacities for both methods are
and not below it. T h e present work also showed the neces- the same for runs 2 and 7 . In these two runs the lower con-
sity for a separate flux curve for the settling zone, due to jugate concentration falls between the feed concentration
the segregation of the feed. and the highest concentration of free settling pulps. In runs
In the compaction zone limitations of predictions by the 8, 12, and 13, however, the lower conjugate concentration is
flux theory have been expressed (Robins, 1964). The theory a t a concentration below the feed concentration, and thus
predicts three concentrations; upper and lower conjugate the predicted flux theory capacity is lower than the Coe
concentrations and the discharge concentration. The na- and Clevenger capacity.
ture of the compaction zone is not predicted, and the theo- The zones and their concentrations described by Coe and
ry considers the thickening as independent of height. The Clevenger (1916) to exist in a thickener closely approxi-
effect of overlying solids (or depth of compaction zone) is mate the conditions obtained under “filter” mode of the
not considered unless we use the flux envelope of Tory present work, with a settling zone concentration fairly close
(1968). to the feed concentration. Two distinct differences oc-
Capacities. The predicted capacities of the thickener curred.
operating a t maximum capacity, as postulated by the flux (i) The coarse material effectively bypassed the settling
theory, and the predicted concentration zones are shown in zone resulting in a settling zone with settling rate lower
Table 111. These are compared with the actual conditions than that expected from hatch tests on the feed material.
for the thickener operating under “filter” mode in runs 2, 7 , Although not all the material entered the settling zone it
8, 12, and 13. For runs 8, 12, and 13, where the feed concen- was nevertheless rate limiting with regard to capacity
tration is greater than the lower conjugate concentration, under “filter” mode.
the upper conjugate concentration is determined by the (ii) Coe and Clevenger batch tests are expected to show
normal method. enhanced settling rates a t intermediate concentrations due
Although flux theory capacities are in fairly consistent to the induction period which allows a settling mechanism
agreement with actual capacities, the upper and lower con- to develop. Thus with concentrations in the intermediate
jugate concentrations were not found to exist. This can be range, up to the highest concentration of free settling
seen to he true even for an upper conjugate concentration pulps, settling rates are expected to he lower than Coe and
determined by a fictitious settling zone operating line Clevenger predictions.
drawn on the settling zone flux curve. There does not ap- The combined result of (i) and (ii) is actual throughputs
pear to he any direct correlation between the lower conju- consistently lower than Coe and Clevenger capacities.
gate concentration and the settling zone concentration. Irrespective of the design method used, the problem of
Coe and Clevenger capacities, calculated for each condi- 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- Under certain conditions, capacities calculated from the
tling rate. The Talmage and Fitch method was shown to flux theory are identical with those of Coe and Clevenger.
give inconsistent results, depending on the initial concen- This occurs when the lower conjugate concentration falls
tration. The application of either of these batch methods between the feed concentration and the highest concentra-
rests on the basic assumption of settling rate as a function tion of free settling pulps. Under these conditions, the Coe
of concentration only. I t has, however, been shown by a and Clevenger method is in fact the flux theory, without all
number of workers t h a t additional factors besides solids the trimmings of predicting density profiles with which
concentration affect the settling rate (Shannon and Tory, agreement was not found in the present work.
1965; Scott, 1968a,b, 1970). The sizing of thickeners for this type of feed material ap-
Relation to Industrial Thickening. T h e phenomenon pears best done using the Coe and Clevenger method, add-
of classification in settling, with the coarser particles set- ing a safety factor over and above that necessary for plant
tling out near the center and the finer particles settling fluctuations and temperature variations.
evenly over the thickener, has been shown to occur in in-
dustrial thickeners by Scott and Paulsen (1970). This phe- Acknowledgments
nomenon is also described in the present work. J. P. S. Turner gratefully acknowledges the financial as-
The coning effect in the compaction zone has also been sistance of Rand Mines Ltd., which made this work possi-
reported in previous work (Cross, 1963). The present work ble, and thanks the Blyvooruitzicht Gold Mining Co. Ltd.,
shows effects such as the circulation of clear liquid, not for the supply of raw material. We would like to thank Dr.
considered important in some previous work. T h e agree- A. W. Bryson for initiating this project.
ment between flow patterns obtained in the present work
and those intimated in the work of Scott and Paulsen Nomenclature
(1970) on industrial thickeners suggests the existence of a A = cross-sectional area of thickener, cm2
“settler” mode in the industrial thickeners. c = solids concentration, g/cm3
In his paper, Fitch (1968) discussed the existence of a c, = underflow concentration g/cm3
floc zone in thickeners t h a t are intermittently fed. Cross G = thickener solids throughput, g/min
(1963) showed the existence of a floc bed with a density k = specific volume of flocs, cm3/g of dry solids
profile in the tank very similar to that obtained under “fil- u = batch settling velocity, cm/min
ter” mode. The buildup of this floc bed also resulted in u o = Stokes’ settling velocity, cm/min
very marked decrease in circulating flow within the tank. Literature Cited
I t is the view of the authors that the conditions obtained Coe, H. S., Clevenger. G. H., Trans. Am. Inst. Mining Eng., 55, 356 (1916).
in the 7-ft diameter tank of the present work are a reason- Cross, H. E., J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Met., 63, 271 (1963).
able approximation to conditions in industrial tanks, and Dunstan, E. T., Scott, K. J., C.S.I.R., Repof? No. C. Chem., 245 (1969).
Fitch, E., Ind. Eflg. Chem., 58, 18 (1966).
significantly more representative than results obtained on Fitch, E., Ind. Eng. Chem.. 60, 8 (1968).
laboratory scale equipment. 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).
Summary Michaels, A . S., Bolger, J. G., Ind. Eng. Chem., Fundam., 1, 24 (1962).
Richardson, J. F.. Zaki, W. N., Trans. Inst Chem. Eng., 32, 35 (1954).
Although based on one slurry only, the present work Robins, W. H. M., Trans. Inst. Chem. Eng., 42, T158 (1964).
gives a new insight into the operation of continuous thick- Sawyer, C. N., “Biological Treatment of Sewage and Industrial Wastes”, Vol.
eners thickening flocculated pulps, describing the zones 1, p 328, Reinhold, New York, N.Y.. 1956.
Scott, K. J., Trans. Inst. Min. Met. (Sect. C, Mineral Process Extr. Met.), 77,
and concentrations existing and flow patterns occurring in C85 (1968a).
thickeners from direct observations within the thickener. Scott, K. J., Ind. Eng. Chem., Fundam., 7, 582 (1968b).
Scott, K. J., hd. Eng. Chem., Fundam., 7, 484 ( 1 9 6 8 ~ ) .
The conditions of a thickener operating below its maxi- Scott, K. J., Ind. Eng. Chem.. Fundam., 9, 422 (1970).
mum capacity (“settler” mode) have been shown to be Scott, K. J., Paulsen. J. P., Chemical Engineering Group, C.S.I.R., Report No.
vastly different to the conditions a t full capacity (“filter” Chem. 131 (1970).
Shannon, P. T., Stroupe, E.. Tory, E. M., Ind. Eng. Chem., Fundam., 2, 203
mode). The latter conditions are, however, more important (1963).
as they define the capacity of a thickener. The zones and Shannon, P. T., Tory, E. M., hd. Eng. Chem., 57, 18 (1965).
Talmage, W. P., Fitch, E. E., Ind. Eng. Chem., 47, 38 (1955).
pulp concentrations observed were similar to those ob- Tory, E . M., Ph.D. Thesis, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.. 1961.
served by Coe and Clevenger in 1916, and the Coe and Tory, E. M., quoted in Scott (1968b) as a private communication.
Clevenger method gave consistent, though higher capaci- Turner, J. P. S., M S c . Dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand, Johan-
nesburg, 1972.
ties. The drawback of this method is the problem of ob-
taining settling, in hatch tests, representative of the set- Received for review October 1, 1974
tling in continuous thickeners. Accepted August 7, 1975

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