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The Horizontal Plate Pressure Filter

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Horizontal Plate Pressure Filters were commonly applied to the fine chemical process
industries such as antibiotics , pesticides or pigments when the load of impure
insolubles is low and polishing is required to obtain a high product clarity. However,
in recent years they may be seen more and more in heavier industries such as
fertilizers or precious metals when the product is the cake and efficient washing and
low moistures are required.

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Slurry Inlet
Filtrate Outlet
Cake Outlet
Air Vent
Cake Scrapers
Filtering Plates
Scavange Plates
Sight Glass
Drive Shaft

Horizontal Plate
Filters are very well
suited for handling
flammable, toxic
and corrosive
materials since they
are autoclaved and
designed for
environments when
high pressure and safe operation are
required. Likewise, they may be readily
jacketed for applications whenever hot or
cold temperatures are to be preserved.
These features are not possible on
Filterpresses which require the opening of
plates to the atmosphere and shifting
them one by one to allow cake discharge
at the end of each cycle.

Hydraulic Drive

The filter structure consists of a stack of

plates attached to a hollow shaft which are
mounted inside a pressure vessel with
each plate covered with a suitable filter

The slurry is fed under pressure into the vessel and the cake, which is retained by
the filter medium, forms on the top of each plate whilst the filtrate passes through

the hollow shaft further to the process. Please refer to the Operational Sequence
below which describes the filtration cycle in detail.
Filter sizes may vary but generally the maximum is 60 m2 area and designed for a 6
bar operating pressure.
The Plates
Each circular plate in the stack is constructed with radial ribs that are welded to the
bottom and support a horizontal coarse mesh screen which is covered with a finer
woven metal screen or filter cloth to retain the cake. The bottom of the plate slopes
towards the hollow central shaft which lets the filtrate flow freely through
circumferential holes and further down the shaft to the filtrate outlet.
The clearance between the plates is maintained by special spacers with "o" rings to
positively seal between the slurry that surrounds the plates and the shaft that
collects the filtrate. The height of the spacers determine the clearance for cake buildup and may be replaced to meet various process conditions.
One of the obvious differences between polishing and cake filtration is the space
between the plates. For polishing applications the clearances are about 20 mm as
opposed to cake filtration applications where, depending on the percentage of solids
and cake build-up properties, clearances may reach 100 mm. Hence, polishing filters
accommodate more plates than cake filters so for the same vessel size more
effective area is available with polishers.
There are several applications, mainly in the pharmaceutical and paint industries,
where special disposable filter paper is used to cover the plates on both sides so the
filtration area is doubled.
The Vessel
The vessels of Horizontal Plate Filters are, as opposed to Vertical Leaf Filters, always
constructed vertically to accommodate the plates stack.
All have removable dished heads but there are two options for bottom design:

A conical bottom.
A dished bottom.

The selection depends largely on the cake discharge arrangement as discussed later.
The head of the larger vertical vessels is often pivoted so that it is swung away to
allow the upwards removal of the plates stack. The layout should provide sufficient
headroom for raising the stack over the vessel and additional floor space next to the
filter for stack maintenance and replacement of damaged plates. It is good practice
to design a special rig that will support the removed stack.
The vessels at their bottoms are fitted with highly secured cake discharge openings
to ensure safe sealing of the tank under pressure.

Cake Discharge
The concept of cake filtration, as opposed to polishing, was enabled by
substantial improvements in the cake discharge mechanisms since such
filters are operating on a short cycle time.
There are two types of cake discharge mechanisms and both use centrifugal force to
throw the cake against the cylindrical wall which then falls to the bottom of the tank:

The rotating disc stack.

The vibrating disc stack.

The rotating type may be driven from either the top or the bottom whilst the
vibrating type is always driven from the top. The removal of the tank head cover
from top driven filters is generally more complex than those driven from the bottom.
On the other hand bottom driven filters are more susceptible to slurry leaks.
The position of the cake outlet depends on the construction of the tank bottom.
There are two types available:

With a conical bottom and a central outlet.

With a dished bottom and a side outlet.

Tanks with conical bottoms discharge cakes by gravity and those with dished bottoms
have a spade that rakes and conveys the cake towards the outlet. Hence, the conical
types require more headroom as compared to the dished type having the same
filtration area. Conical tanks also have often an additional scavenging plate at the
lower part of the cone to filter the residual slurry heel that remains below the main
plates. The slurry heel that remains at the very bottom of the tank is removed
through a special dip pipe to avoid discharging a wet cake.

To facilitate better cake discharge there are designs with sloping

plates. With this concept the cake, owing to the centrifugal force, flies off the plate in
a horizontal trajectory without being dragged and subjected to the frictional radial
shear over the surface as with conventional flat plates.
The cake that accumulates on the plates may be discharged as a wet thickened
sludge or as a dry cake. For wet cakes the vessel will normally have a small outlet
that is fitted with a valve whilst for dry cakes the opening is large and the closure
locks up electrically or hydraulically with a bayonet wedge.

Selection Criteria
Horizontal Plate Filters are best selected in the following

When minimum floor space for large filtration areas is required.

When the liquids are volatile and may not be subjected to vacuum.
When there is a risk of environmental hazard from toxic, flammable or volatile
cakes specially secured discharge mechanisms may be incorporated.
When high filtrate clarity is required for polishing applications.
When handling saturated brines that require elevated temperatures the tank
may be steam jacketed.
When efficient washing is required.
When the cake is heavy and must be supported as opposed to a Vertical Leaf
Filter where the cake forms on a vertical surface and may fall-off once the
pressure drops.
When the cake may be discharged either dry or as a thickened slurry.

They should be selected with care:

When the cake does not discharge readily accessing the filter medium
between the plates for washing is difficult.
When coarse mesh screens are used the filtration step must be preceded with
a precoat to retain cakes with fine particles. Precoating with a thin layer of
diatomite or perlite is not a simple operation and should be avoided whenever


The removal of the plate stack on bottom driven filters is simpler than on top
driven machines since on the later the entire drive has to be removed to allow
access to the stack.
Plates with the screens mounted on the topside, as opposed to two sided
plates, provide good support for the forming cake and therefore are always
used on applications with thick and heavy cakes.


High headroom is required for dismantling the entire plate stack.

The bearing of top and bottom driven filters, that supports the rotating plate
stack and its sealing, is complex since it has to withstand the internal
pressure and the side forces imposed by the mechanical drive. However, side
loads on some machines are eliminated by the use of hydraulic motors.
The emptying of the vessel in between cake filtration, washing and drying
requires close monitoring of the pressure inside the vessel to ensure that the
cake holds on to the candles.

Operational Sequence
The operation of a Horizontal Plates Filter is labor intensive and requires a complex
manipulation of valves so present day installations are in most cases fully

The precoating stage is done only in
the following cases:

When the contaminants are

gelatinous and sticky it forms a
barrier that avoids cloth
blinding. Likewise the interface
between the precoat and the
cloth departs readily so the
cake discharges leaving a clean
When a clear filtrate is
required immediately after the
filtration cycle commences
otherwise recirculation must be
employed until a clear filtrate
is obtained.

Once the precoating stage is
completed the process slurry is
pumped into the filter, the forming
cake is retained on the plates and the
filtrate flows to further processing.
When the solids are fine and slow to
filter a body-aid is added to the feed
slurry in order to enhance cake
permeability. However, it should be
kept in mind that the addition of
body-aid increases the solids
concentration in the feed so it
occupies additional volume between
the plates and increases the amount
of cake for disposal.
Likewise, for all those applications
when the cake is the product, precoat
and filter-aid may not be used since
they mix and discharge together with
the cake.
Please refer to the section on Pressure
Filters for further details on precoating
and the addition of body-aid.
Heel Removal

Once the filtration cycle is completed air or gas is blown into the vessel and the
slurry heel that surrounds the plates is pushed and displaced downwards until it
reaches the lowest part of the plate stack. At this point the remaining heel slurry is
evacuated back to the feed tank by a special dip pipe that is located at the very
bottom of the vessel so that the vessel is empty from slurry.
Cake Drying
The air then continues to pass through the cake until the captive moisture is reduced
to a minimum and the cake is in practical terms considered to be dry.
Cake Discharge
At this point the air pressure is released, the cake outlet is opened and the plate
stack is rotated to discharge the cake. The cake outlet opening must be interlocked
with the motor drive since its spinning is conditional to the outlet being open.
On some filters the cloth or mesh screen may backwashed with water after cake
discharge to dislodge and remove any cake residue that adhered to the medium.

The Horizontal Plate Filter requires attention on a regular basis to safety devices and
automation features that accompany modern filters.
The space above the filter should have a hoisting device and sufficient headroom to
lift the entire disc stack and move it horizontally to a location adjacent to the filter
tank. It is recommended to have a special rig that will hold the plate stack for
maintenance since the bigger ones may reach a length 3 meters or more. Space
must also be allocated for the cover which may be either if it is hinged or removed.
The major components that require attention are:

The filter tank must conform to an Unfired Pressure

Vessel code, such as ASME, and checked as required by
the safety regulations.
The pressure relief valve that is located on the top of
the tank.
The bearings, retainers, o-rings, gaskets and seals
where the center shaft enters the vessel. This applies
to both top and bottom driven stacks with the former
being susceptible to air or gas leaks and the later to
slurry leaks.
The large diameter caulking gasket of the dished top
head cover. The ends must be cut in an angle to ensure
a perfect seal.
The hinged head cover locking bolts.
The spacers' ring seals that press the entire plate stack
The cleanliness of the filtrate sight glass that monitor

on-line or visually enables inspection of the filtrate

The interlock that disables stack spinning with a closed
cake discharge outlet.
The interlock that disables opening the cake discharge
when the vessel is still under pressure.
The maintenance hoist above the filter must pull out
the entire stack vertically so that the plates will not hit
the tank wall. Its exact positioning is also essential for
bottom driven stacks since on many types there is no
access to the bearings and gland seals from the bottom
and the entire insertion is done from the top.
The condition of the filter medium, cloth or mesh
screen, must be done periodically to ensure that they
are not damaged.
The vent on top of the head must be checked for free
evacuation of air.
The filter must not be overfilled with cake since this
causes the plates to bend.