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4 ‘THE HYDROCYCLONE 52. SEPARATION OF SOLID FROM SOLID Solids can be treated when suspended in a liquid medium to permit their separation according to differences in particle size, particle density, or patticle shape. Classification according to size ‘A cyclone used for this duty is usually referred to as a classifier and is not designed for maximum efficiency forall sizes of solid fed to it. Low efficiency of particles below the desired “cut point” and high efficiency above it are required. ‘As has been mentioned previously, liquid with the solid underflow product is inevitable. This liquid carries with it some of the fine material which remains in the downward current at the wall of the cyclone and does not ‘undergo any classifying action within the cyclone body. Therefore, the smaller the volume of this liquid the smaller will be the quantity of fine material in the underflow, and the better is the separation of fine from coarse. Similarly, it is important in this case to minimize the short circuit flow across the cyclone roof which causes contamination of the fine overflow fraction with coarse particles. Limiting the underflow liquid volume can be achieved by reduction of the underfiow aperture, or by a restriction in the underflow line, ie. an effective decrease in the underflow aperture, Valves in the line or at the aperture can be used to provide restriction. The types of valve and of methods of control will be discussed in Chapter 8. ‘A technique which has the same net effect as reducing the underflow liquid is the displacement of this liquid with pure liquid injected through the walls at the cyclone apex. This technique known as hydraulic water addition®-®) hhas been adopted successfully for desliming mined products. Again it will be discussed in greater detail later in Chapter 9. Classification in a cyclone as in any equipment which depends on relative motion between fluid and solids is dependent on probability. It therefore follows that classification is not sharp and some coarse material must be accepted with the fine product or fine material with the coarse product even if precautions are taken to minimize short circuit flow or underflow liquid. A typical efficiency curve whose slope is a measure of classification efficiency is given in Fig. 21. The classification point can be chosen anywhere along this curve with the choice of position depending on the relative importances of the need for the removal of undesirable fraction or the recovery of the desired fraction. For many industrial purposes the efficiency of classification corresponding toa curve such as that of Fig. 21 is perfectly adequate. For many purposes such a curve is superior to that given by alternative pieces of equipment, for AREAS OF APPLICATION AND OPERATIONAL CHARACTERISTICS 45 example, where the shear forces within a cyclone assist in the breaking up of agglomerates of fine and coarse particles. From this point of view a cyclone is inherently better suited to classification than to thickening. ‘Again two extreme cases can be recognised in the general requirement of classification. These are, “desliming”, and “degritting”. The former refers to the removal of fines from a coarse fraction product and is of wide interest in the treatment of mined products. ‘The latter refers to removal of coarse particles from a fine fraction product, for example, the removal of oversize foreign matter from many chemical products. yl Fro. 21. Typical effcieney curves Separation according to density Accyclone for this duty is usually referred to as a “washer”, and so far has been responsible for by far the largest proportion of the technical literature. This has been due to the large scale adoption of the cyclone washer in the mining industries. ‘The cyclone is used as a “sink and float” separator by the use of heavy media slurries or heavy liquids to suspend the material to be treated. If the slurries or liquids have a density intermediate between those of the com- ponents it is wished to separate the heavier components will “'sink”—to the underflow, the ligher components will “float””—to the overflow. For example, finely divided magnetite is widely used as the heavy medium in the separation of shale from coal. Heavy liquids have received less attention industrially since their use would normally be uneconomic, they are, however, of interest in the use of a cyclone as an analytical tool in mineralogical investigations. ‘Again media and techniques will be discussed later in Chapter 9. 46 ‘THE HYDROCYCLONE ‘The action of the cyclone in performing the sink and float separation differs from gravitational sink-float separators in that separation is normally achieved at a higher specific gravity than that of the heavy medium. ‘This has been attributed to the build up of the fine medium particles in the eyelone cone due to the recirculation pattern present," (see Chapter 3). This effect also makes it possible to use water as the separating medium for the recovery of fine coal from the slime product of the primary separation.“® ‘The lower medium gravity makes the cyclone attractive relative to other heavy medium separators since viscosity is simultaneously lower and recovery of the medium for recycle is easier, However, once again the cyclone limita tion of incomplete separation of the two products is observed. It is, therefore, frequently necessary to operate cyclones in series with both overflow and underflow, ie, float and sink, secondary treatment. Separation according to shape This too can and has been referred to as a classification process since the requirement is sharpness of separation rather than high removal efficiency. ‘The mechanism of separation has, however, been compared with that of the cyclone washer in instances where shape and density differences exist.” The considerations of the section on separation according to size are, therefore, largely applicable. One difference is that the materials to be separated nor- mally have large differences in shape and, therefore, large differences in their terminal settling velocities, for example, in the separation of broken palm kernels from shells, Separations are therefore extremely good, ‘Separation is also assisted by the acceleration effects. Whilst accelerating up to the terminal velocity an elongated particle travels a shorter distance than a spherical particle and is more likely to remain in the overflow stream. 53. SEPARATION OF LIQUID FROM LIQUID This is a more recent application of the hydrocyclone. An unsuccessful attempt at the separation of isobutanol from water in 1 in. and 2 in, cyclones is the earliest known application, whilst the first patent application was made in Holland in 1948.0 Work of Dahlstrom led to research theses on the subject at Northwestern University, and a similar research programme with small diameter cyclones commenced at A.E.R.E., Harwell."?-!2) Advantages of the cyclone as a liquid-separator are again, simplicity, high capacity, and small space requirement. It does, however, have considerable disadvantages in this field. These are: (a) That it is again not possible to obtain complete separation of the phases in one stage. One of the phases can be separated and taken from either the overflow or the underflow of the cyclone whilst a mixture of the two phases