1 The Decanter Centrifuge
The solid-bowl scroll-discharge centrifuge w now almost universally known
as the decanter centrifuge
has, indeed, become the workhorse of a wide
range of liquid/solid separation activities. Its application to the dewatering of
waste sludges has made it a most valuable tool in combating environmental
pollution. This has made the decanter a well-known and widely appreciated
piece of equipment.
1.1.1 The basic decanter

Although a complicated piece of machinery, the decanter centrifuge embodies
a simple principle, that of the screw conveyor. In basic terms, the decanter
comprises a solid cylindrical bowl, rotating at high speed. Inside the bowl is a
scroll (screw conveyor) rotating at a slightly different speed. The differential
speed between bowl and scroll provides the conveying motion to collect and
remove the solids, which accumulate at the bowl wall.
A slurry of liquid and suspended solids is fed along the centre line. to some
fixed position within the bowl, and is accelerated outwards to join the pond of
liquid held on the bowl wall by the centrifugal force. This same force then
causes the suspended solids to settle, and accumulate at the bowl wall. The
clarified liquid then flows along the bowl, to leave at one end of it, over some
kind of weir design, which sets the level of the liquid surface in the bowl.
The other end of the bowl is sloped inwards, towards the centre, thus
providing a beach, up which the solids are conveyed, to be discharged from
the bowl, at the top of the beach. Whilst the solids are conveyed up the beach,
some, hopefully most, of the entrained liquid drains back into the pond, to join
the liquid flow towards the far end.
The scroll usually is carried on a hollow axial hub, t h r o u g h which the
slurry feed tube passes to the feed zone. The diameter, the number, and the
pitch of the conveyor flights are chosen to match the needs of the slurry being
as are the depth of the pond, the length of the bowl, the conveyor
differential speed, and the angle of slope of the beach.
Most decanters operate with their axis horizontal, in which case they
usually are mounted in substantial bearings at each end of the bowl. Vertical

The centrifugal force may be imposed by virtue of the flow of the slurry.m8 . If the difference in density is small. 1. which controls the differential speed of the conveyor. The basic decanter is completed with a drive motor.Introduction Liquids Dtsctmrl~ C~.1. If the density difference is high. The rotating bowl is enclosed in a casing. C~veyor t Bowl Fli#t Feed Solids Feed Zone Dischtr~ Tube 3 Figure 1. as in the sedimenting centrifuge.2 Separation principle The decanter operates mainly by sedimentation. with bearings at one end only. usually electrical. or the particle size is very small. then gravity separation would take too long. and the separation force must be augmented by the imposition of centrifugal forces many times that of gravity alone. or by means of mechanically driven rotation. The main operating parts of a decanter centrifuge. as in a hydrocyclone. then gravity may provide sufficient driving force for the separation to occur in a reasonable time as is the case with large-tank clarifiers and clariflocculators. . operation is possible. or with lamella and inclined-plate separators. in which case the bowl is carried only on one set of bearings. which is divided to ensure that the discharged liquid (the "centrate") and solids cannot remix after separation. at the top. then cantilevered horizontal operation is also possible. Aspects of the physical forms of the decanter in its different versions are described in Chapter 2. If the decanter is short. and a gearbox. a process causing the separation of suspended solids by virtue of their higher density than the liquid in which they are suspended.1.

by a variety of devices at the outer periphery of the bowl. By comparison. originally developed for liquid/liquid separation (cream from milk). with: 9 gravity sedimentation the decanter can achieve separations that would be impossibly lengthy (or just impossible) in a clarifier or lamella separator. the decanter competes effectively with several types of solids recovery f i l t e r . the ability to handle concentrated slurries. for which use any suspended solids would require cessation of operation for their removal (the tubular bowl centrifuge is also used for very difficult solid/liquid separations. and the various types of band press. The theory of the separation and dewatering behaviour of the decanter is described in Chapter 4. In addition to these other types of sedimentation centrifuge. and produces drier solids.such as the plate-and-flame filter press. at a time. The prime beneficial characteristic of the decanter in this spectrum of sedimentation equipment is its ability to remove separated solids from the separation zone on a fully continuous basis. 9 h y d r o c y c l o n e s . which is operated batch-wise for the removal of collected solids. therefore. without requiring the use of filter aids. and 9 the decanter. in most cases. where there is a low concentration of solids. and so does not have the same clarification performance). but which has been improved to achieve continual solids removal (although. can handle much higher solid concentrations in the feed slurry (although it cannot usually match the high centrifugal forces of the disc-stack designs. which cannot be flocculated): 9 the imperforate basket centrifuge.the decanter has a much higher liquid capacity. including: 9 the tubular bowl centrifuge.4 TheDecanterCentrifuge There are several types of solid bowl sedimenting centrifuge. can handle much higher slurry concentrations. and continuous operation: 9 imperforate basket centrifuges the decanter operates continuously. can handle much higher solids concentrations. not fully continuous). and produces much drier solids: and 9 disc-stack c e n t r i f u g e s .the decanter is truly continuous in operation. unattended. and it produces drier solids. mainly used for liquid/liquid separation. . 9 the disc-stack centrifuge. It can operate. for weeks. and produces much drier solids: 9 tubular bowl centrifuges the decanter offers higher capacities. if not months.

nt for thc kaoliii (china clay) iiidustry. .nslon.wr. showirig what separation acliori i n required.iI. while Iht: sper-itic design k3turt. I1 i s ii very gcind device for this purpose..r. Finally the decariler c:in be opcratcd so as to a c t as il i h i r k m v . less often.(It must be rcmcmbercd that there are many other types of industrial c:enIril'iigr. and its arailahility in a wide raiigc o l fred capacities. t.shing t. producing a clcar liquid and i-l m o r e concentratcd slurry either in a manufacturing proccss.1. t h c decanter again can dewat.er can be used for the clnrjficntioriof a liquid. described in cach of the sections of' t h is Chap t cI. bctweeii solids of differing density).) 1. The drt:ant. although it is not usually used to clocify o slurry that contains only a small amnunt.ion -.ions of thc dccanter art.:Ill.3 Decanter applications Thc dccantcr cciitrifugc can be used for most types of liquidjstrlid separ.he two sepa r ii t. 1 clussificntian ~ of' solids in Liquid suspc. :ind li!Llowing such rcrovery it is capable o f \.d solids to a high dcgree of dryri Whcrc thc slurry is a waste needing treatment prior to sale dispos.ii. This wide mnge of'potcntial uses.iorrsodds to its general versatility.he recovcrcd solid free of the original mother liquor. or i t 1 wsstc treatment. hul: t.ition. and its ability to handle a wide rarige of feed slurry L. its ability tn accept a wide range of feed concentrations.<rgethc-rexplain w h y the d ~ ~ i i ~centrifuge itw has become such a valuable pror:essing tool.er such slurries to a high luvcl of ilryriess. is required tielween I W C )sixes ofsolid particle (or. it can be operated so as lo give a high degree of clarification. 11 C ~ I be I 11sed Tor t .ion rn ~h a n isms .tiese achieve sepratiori by riieans of filtration rather than sedimenl:. described in Uhapler '1.hoiigh the srreen-howl dwariler r:omhiries t. It (::in also be iwd in thc recovrr~jd a valuable scilid irom i t s suspcnsioii in a liquid.rir:entrol. coupled with its continuous operalion. and its early history inclnded developme. and of drliqimrin[j ( d w n t e r i i i g ) the wrls1it.s ol'the decanter t o suit thrse applications art. where a single CUI. The main proccss applioal.nf d i d s in suspensiun.