Mathematical modelling and analysis of the flocculation process in low retention time hydraulic flocculators
This article aims to advance the understanding of particle interactions in low retention time flocculators and proposes a new flocculation model that appropriately considers the influence of retention time in flocculation processes. This consideration is important for units with flocculation time lower than 1 min, as seen in helically coiled tube flocculators (HCTFs), whose retention time is significantly lower than conventional flocculation units (about 30 min). With this, it was possible to obtain a more adherent model, reducing deviations between results obtained by physical modelling (using HCTFs, 48 tests) and those obtained with the proposed model, when compared with results obtained using the flocculation models commonly used for this purpose. The decreasing-rising behaviour presented by experimental data for process efficiency versus retention time, not verified in the benchmark models, was satisfactorily addressed by the proposed model. Furthermore, maximum and average absolute percentage deviations obtained using the model proposed in this study were less than or equal to the results obtained with the benchmark models and less for experimental uncertainty (10%). The results obtained indicate that this model can be a useful tool to support the rational design of low retention time units, including applications for the water industry and water recycling systems.
Keywords: flocculation models, helically coiled tube flocculators (HCTFs), hydraulic flocculators, mathematical modelling, physical modelling