Environmental engineers usually evaluate flocculation and settling processes by applying subjective visual criteria to the laboratory tests which are conducted in parallel. These criteria consist of visual observation of the rate of floccu-lation, the size of floc formed, the rate of settling, and the overhead clarity of the treated liquid following a prescribed program of chemical addition, mixing, and duration of treatment.
A typical test program consists of a short initial dispersion period with vigorous agitation, a longer period of flocculation with mild agitation, and a final period of settling with minimum agitation. The flocculant is distributed uniformly during the initial dispersion period. The flocculating particles grow to maximum size during the floccu-lation period and then settle out of suspension during the settling period. This test program approximates the dynamic flocculation and settling that occur during full-scale operation.
Environmental engineers can make quantitative evaluations of these processes using a variety of techniques. These techniques include measuring the SS concentration by turbidimetric means and the surface charges of the particles by streaming current or zeta potential. For control purposes, these techniques are preferred to subjective visual observations or periodic laboratory determination of SS concentrations.
Unfortunately, due to the heterogeneous nature of most suspensions, continuous quantitative monitoring and control of the flocculation process have not yet been fully realized. Instrumentation has been limited to controlling the rate of chemical addition based on previously estimated laboratory experiments or effluent quality monitoring.
Colloidal suspensions and their demand for additives can be monitored by automatic analyses (Fig. 7.9.10). Table 7.34.3 summarizes typical flocculant preparation systems, flocculant addition systems, and coagulant addi
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