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8.1 Introduction

8.2 Sedimentation
8.2.1 8.2.2 8.2.3 8.2.4 Principle of Sedimentation Fundamental Theory Sedimentation in Practice Common Design Criteria

8.3 Flocculation 8.4 Flotation 8.5 Flow Through Porous Media
8.5.1 Porous Bed Hydraulics 8.5.2 Cleaning of Deep Bed Filters 8.5.3 Deep Bed Filtration in Practice

8.6 Chemical Aided Sedimentation 8.7 Important Lessons for Physical Treatment Processes
8.7.1 Flow Distribution 8.7.2 Subsidence 8.7.3 Flow Pattern

8.8 Summary
8.9 Key Words 8.10 Answers to SAQs 8.11 Further Reading

Screen and grit chambers remove most of the floating materials and heavy inorganic settleable solids from the sewage. A part of the suspended organic solids which are too r heavy t ~ be removed as floating matters and too light to be removed by grit chambers are generally removed by the sedimentation tanks. Hence, sedimentation tanks are designed to remove a part of the organic matter from the sewage effluent coming out from the grit chambers. In a complete treatment of sewage, the sedimentation is carried out twice. Once before the biological treatment (known as primary sedimentation) and next after the biological treatment (known as secondary sedimentation). When chemicals are used for flocculating the organic matter during the process of sedimentation, the process is known as sedimentation aided with coagulation.

After going through this unit, you should be able to calculate settling velocity for a discrete particle, estimate removal efficiency of a settling tank, appreciate the characteristics of different settling basins, calculate the power required for flocculation, and understand the differences between different types of filter.

Physical Treatment

8.2.1 Principle of Sedimentation
Sedimentation is a natural process by which solids with higher density than the fluid, settle under the action of gravity. The settling velocity of a particle in a fluid is a function of its density, size and shape as well as the density and viscosity of the fluid. The organic matter present in sewage has specific gravity greater than that of water. In still sewage these particles tend to settle down by gravity. In a flowing sewage they are kept in suspension, because of the turbulence in water. As soon as the turbulence is retarded by making storage of sewage, these impurities tend to settle down at the bottom of the tank offering such storage. The basin in which the flow of sewage is retarded is known as settling or sedimentation tank. If the tanks are big, they are also known as sedimeritatCon basin.

8.2.2 Fundamental Theory
Discrete suspensions are made up of particles with a fixed rigid shape, sand grains for example, which do not coalesce when brought into contact. Such a suspension thus has a constant settling velocity under specified conditions. Flocculent suspensions are composed of particles with spongy adherent characteristics which tend to agglomerate on contact and produce fewer, but larger, particles with increasing settling velocity with time. Simple settling theory considers the situation'in which a descrete particle is placed in a fluid of lower density. The particle wiH accelerate under gravity until a terminal velocity is reached when the gravitational force is balanced by an equal and opposite frictional drag force. Mathematical analysis of this situation leads to the classical Stoke's Law expression for the terminal settling velocity of a discrete particle in water under laminar flow conditions :


v, = descrete particle terminal velocity,
g = acceleration due to gravity,
d = particle 'diameter',

V = kinematic viscosity of water, and
S, = specific gravity of particle.

Table 8.1 :Discrete Particle Settling Velocities
Specinc Gravity ,

Diameter mm

Temperature O C
10 20 30 10 20 30 10 20 30 10 20 30 10 20 30 10 20 30

Settling Velocity m/s
6.25 x 8.15 x 1.02 x lo-2 6.25 x 8.15 x 1.02 2.09 x 2.72 x 3.41 x 2.09 x 2.72 x lo-' 3.41 x lo-' 4.17 x 5.43 1 0 - ~ 6.81 x lop4 4.17 x 5.43 x 1 0 - ~ 6.81 x








Table 8.1 gives some examples of terminal settling velocities calculated from Eq. (8.1) for a number of coditions, including different temperatures which affect the viscosity of the water and hence the settling velocity. Practical consideration of the settlement of discrete suspensions involves the concept of the ideal settling basin (Figure 8.1) in which it is assumed that there is :

Sedimentation Flocculation and Filtration


quiescent settlement in the settling zone uniform flow through the settling zone uniform solids concentration entering the settling zone solids entering the sludge zone are not resuspended. Inlet Zone Outlet Zone



In Flow

Sludge Zone
Figure 8.1 :The Ideal Settling Basin

A discrete particle with settling velocity v, enters the settling zone at the surface and just reaches the sludge zone at the outlet end of the basin. This particle falls through a depth h, in the retention time of the tank to.

Hence but thus where



ho /to

to = volume I flow per unit time = V / Q

v, = h, x Q N =

A = surface area of basin. Thus critical settling velocity vo = Q / A

. . . (8.2)

The term Q / A is termed as the surface overflow rate and has units of velocity. Thus for discrete particles, removal is independen~of depth, and in theory, all particles with a settling velocity of v, or greater will be removed if the surface overflow rate is equal to this critical velocity, v. If a suspension of discrete particles with a range of settling , velocities is fed to the tank all those with v, equal to or greater than vo will be removed and for particles with v, < v,, the removal will be in the ratio v, /v,. If a particle with v, < vo enters the tank at a height of not more than v, x to from the bottom, it will be removed. If it enters at a higher level than this, it will not reach the sludge zone and hence will not be removed.

Example 8.1 Calculate the settling velocity in water of a spherical discrete particle, 0.06 mm diameter and specific gravity 2.5, if the kinematic viscosity is 1.01 x at 20°C. Solution From Eq. (8.1)

Note :Eq. (8.1) only ac ; rcrs in laminar flow conditions, i.e., when Reynolds Number is < 1. k: ia, therefore, important to check that the velocity calculated falls within the laminar flow range.

Physical Treatment

Reynolds Number (R) = v, d2/ v

i.e., the flow is laminar and hence, Eq. (8.1) is applicable. In practice, the settling velocities encountered in water and wastewater treatment are almost invariably scch that laminar conditions occur. For calculation of settling velocities in the transition or turbulent flow regions, other relationships which are covered in texts listed in the Further Reading section should be consulted. Example 8.2 Determine the surface area required in an ideal settling basin to ensure removal of all discrete particles with a settling velocity of 0.0029 m Is from a flow of 500 m3 I h. Solution From Eq. (8.2).

Example 8.3 Determine the theoretical removal in the tank in the previous example for discrete particles with a settling velocity of 0.001 m I s. Solution Removal of particles with settling velocity less than the critical velocity is given by vs v* i.e., % removal = (0.001 x 100) / '0.0029 = 34.5% Insertion of a series of trays or false bottoms in a tank at a spacing of the lowest vs x to would in theory, ensure complete removal of suspended matter. In practice, there are limitations to this concept because of the difficulties of ensuring uniform flow distribution and also of removing the deposited solids. In locations where land area is at a premium, it may be possible to utilise sedimentation tanks with two, or sometimes three floors, although the tanks are usually somewhat deeper than conventional units.
An extension of the tray concept is that of the inclined tube or plate settlers which provide large surface areas for settlement within a small space. Depending upon the arrangement of the tubes or plates, it is possible to obtain effective surface areas of as much as ten times the plan area occupied by an inclined settler. A inclined tube settler is depicted in Figure 8.2.

Outlet Box

Inlet Bo

Figure 8.2 :Inclined %be or P& S e w I

8.2.3 Sedimentation in Practice
The basic sedimentation theory described in the previous section is for low concentrations of discrete particles. As indicated in Figure 8.3, the settling characteristics of flocculent suspensions are non-uniform. In addition, with SS concentrations in excess of around 2000 mg / 1, the phenomena of hindered settlement can complicate the prediction of settling basin performance. An indication of the potential for settlement in a suspension can be obtained by determining the settleable solids content in a sample. This involves the use of a graduated imhoff cone or determination of SS before and after a 30 minute period of settlement in a conventional measuring cylinder. More detailed information about the settling characteristics of a suspension can be determined using a settling column. The SS content of samples withdrawn from the column at known depths and time intervals can be used to produce a settling characteristics curve which is analogous to that derived in a sieve analysis determination for sand or soil samples.
Top Surfice

Flocculation and Sedimentation Filtration

,Flocculent Suspension

Discrete Suspension


Top Surface



--5 56 4.33 56

Hindered Settling


Fipre 8.3 :Settling Behaviour

Example 8.3 A settling column test on a suspension of discrete particles gave the following results from a sampling depth of 1.3 m.
Sampling time (min)
% of initial SS in

10 48

20 37

40 19




Determine the theoretical removal of suspended solids from this suspension in a horizontal flow tank with a surface overflow tank with a surface overflow rate of 200 m/d.

It is first necessary to convert the sampling time and the depth of collection into velocities which the solids in each sample have not exceeded: thus 1.3m/5min = 4.33 x 1 0 - ~ m / s Settling velocity
% SS with v, < v

2.16 48

1.08 37

0.54 19




Physical Treatment

These data are plotted in Figure 8.4 which shows the percentage of SS with a settling velocity less than or equal to a specified settling velocity. Readers familiar with a sieve analysis curve will at once see the similarity between this settling characteristic curve and the way in which sieve analysis are expressed. The surface overflow rate of 200 m I d = 200 / (60 x 60 x 24)
= 2.38


m 1s

From Figure 8.4,50% of the SS have a settling velocity of greater than 2.38 x lob3 m I s and will thus be removed. In a horizontal flow tank, there will be an additional removal of SS with settling velocities less than 2.38 x mIs in the ratio v,/v,. This additional removal would be given by the integral from 0 to 50% of v, / v, with respect to percent of SS. Since the equation for the settling characteristic curve is not normally known, the solution can be obtained by arithmetic integration of the appropriate area as shown in Figure 8.4. Thus the overall removal of SS from the suspension in a horizontal flow tank will be 50 + 17 per cent. It should be noted that in a vertical flow tank the theoretical removal would be 50% only, i.e., removal only of those SS with v, of equivalent or , greater than v. Particles with lower settling velocities will be washed out of the tank. However, once a sludge blanket is formed, this will serve to trap some particles with lower settling velocities in a form of filtration. The removal efficiency of the tank will thus increase as the blanket develops. This growth in removal efficiency is not readily predictable and depends on the nature of the suspension being treated.
All Removed Because Vs > 2.38 x

, -

Settling Velocity lo-) m 1 s

Figure 8.4 :Settling Characteristic Curve

When dealing with flocculent suspensions, which includes most of those encountered in water and wastewater treatment, the basic theory and techniques described above cannot be applied directly. In the case of flocculent suspensions, it is difficult to express their changing settling characteristics in a mathematical relationship. Because of the agglomeration which takes place with flocculent suspensions as particles collide with one another, the depth through which particles settle does have an influence on the suspension settling velocity. Thus, with flocculent suspensions, it is necessary to carry out settling column tests with samples collected at a range of depths up to the full scale tank depth. The results obtained then plot as a series of curves which can be used to establish the probable removal performance over a range of depths and retention times. As outlined earlier, the hydraulic characteristics of continuous flow systems are never ideal and flow distribution is a major factor in the design of efficient sedimentation tanks. The problem is complicated by the fact that many tanks have to operate over quite a large

range of flows and under a range of climatic conditions with varying temperatures and wind action. It should therefore not be surprising that sedimentation tanks do not alwallo perform as well as might be predicted by theory. It is also important to appreciate that solids separated from the flow by a settling tank must be removed from the sludge zone as rapidly and effectively as possible. Failure to ensure effective sludge removal will seriously hinder the overall performance of a settling basin and possibly that of associated treatment units. In design, it is therefore, necessary to consider the speed with which settled sludge can be scraped from the floor into a collecting hopper. Some concentration of sludge will occur in the hopper and it is important to ensure that this more concentrated sludge can be withdrawn at a rate which will at least balance, the rate at which it accumulates. If this does not occur, sludge levels will build up in the tank, leading to anaerobic breakdown in the case of wastewater sludges, causing a deterioration in effluent quality. The hydraulic design of sludge removal systems is important since concentrated sludge has a much higher viscosity than water. If the velocity of sludge removal is excessive, it is likely that 'piping' will occur in which the liquid is drawn through the sludge mass without removing much sludge. If this happens for any length of time, blocking of the sludge withdrawal syster is likely.
Collector Effluent adiustable

Sediment-+;-. --...t~uvn and Filtration

(a) Horizontal Flow Rectangular 'lgnk

(b)Radial Flqw Circular 'lgnk

Influent *

Sludge drain

(c) Vertieal Flow Clreular lbnk

(d) Flocculation and Sedimentation

-Scum board
V - notch
(e) V notch Weir Scumboard Outlet Arrangement



Figure 8.5 :Qpes of Sedimentation Tanks

Sedimentation tanks take a variety of forms and some common types are shown diagrammatically in Figure 8.5. Although early treatment plants sometimes used batch or

Physical Treatment


'fill and draw' operation for sedimentation, virtually all installations now employ continuous flow systems. A sedimentation tank (or a clarifier) may be rectangular, circular or square in plan and the flow through the tank may be horizontal, vertical or radial. Thus sedientation tanks may be classified as horizontal flow rectangular tank, radial flow circular tank, vertical flow circular tank, etc. (see Figure 8.5). Rectangular horizontal-flow units provide the most effective use of land area but because of their configuraiton they have hydraulic problems at inlet and outlet sections in relation to establishing quiescent conditions in the settling zone. Sludge deposited on the bottom of the tank must be scraped to a hopper using a reciprocating blade mechanism which can be prone to operational difficulties. A particular problem with rectangular tanks is the relatively short length available for the effluent discharge weir. A simple weir across the exit end of the tank will cause relatively high local velocities with the potential for scour of settled deposits. A better solution is to utilise inset weirs to provide greater discharge length and hence lower velocities, as shown in Figure 8.6. Circular sedimentation tanks operates as horizontal-flow units with a baffled inlet at the centre and discharge over peripheral weirs which provide ample length to ensure low discharge velocities. Adjustable weir plates with small 'Vee' notches provide an effective discharge system which is not affected by surface tension at low flows. A rotating scraper mechanism operating continuoulsy directs sludge to a central hopper. For primary sedimentation of wastewater, it is essential to provide some form of device to trap surface scum and grease so that this can be prevented from escaping with the effluent. Vertical-flow hopper-bottom tanks are used in some small wastewater settlement units since they have the advantage of not requiring mechanical desludging mechanisms. In water treatment the nature and concentration of suspended solids is such that chemical coagulation is often employed to improve settling characteristics. In general, however, suspensions in water treatment are of lower density and more flocculent in nature than those found in raw wastewaters. Sedimentation in water treatment is thus generally undertaken in sludge-blanket units. The sludge blanket once established provides a form of filtering action which removes particles with lower settling velocities than the upward velocity in the blanket region of the tank. Vertical-flow sludge blanket units are popular, although in more recent designs the hopper bottom has been replaced by a float floor with the inflow distributed by a pipe system. It should be appreciated that vertical flow tanks are designed t operate at a specified velocity. If the solids do not attain this velocity or o the hydraulic loading on the tank is increased, its performance will deteriorate.

Inset Geir cantilevered from walls

FIgure 8.6 :Inset Wis for Reduced Ovemow Velocities er

8.2.4 Common Design Criteria
Although waters and wastewaters vary quite widely in their settling behavioor, it is possible to establish general design criteria for sedimentation processes. Table 8.2 sets out such general design criteria for conventional wastewater treatment. If there is any reason to beIieve that a particular suspension has a typical settling characteristics it would be prudent to cany out laboratory studies to establish its settling behaviour and hence amve at appropriate design criteria. Table 8.3 shows typical design features of rectangular and circular sedimentation tanks.

Table 8.2 :Typical Design Criteria for Sedimentation Tanks (at maximum flow)
Wastewater Treatment Primary Sedimentation Horizontal and radial flow units : Surface overflow rate 1 - 1.5 m I h Retention time 2 h Outlet weir loading < 12.5 m3 m h Width : Length (rectangular units) 1 : 4 to 1 : 8 Vertical flow units : Surface overflow rate 1 - 1.8 mh Retention time 2 - 3 h Outlet weir loading c 12.5 m3 I m h Final Settlement after biological Treatment Surface overflow rate 1.5 m I h Retention time 2 h Outlet weir loading c 10 m3 m I h

Sedimentation Flocculation and F tration i

Table 8 3 :Design Features of Sedimentation Tank for Wastewater
Parameter 'ljpes of Sedimentation Tank Rectangular Max. Length Max. Width Depth Range of lengthtwidth ratio Range of lengthldepth ratio Bottom slope Max. Diameter Inlet 90 m 30 m 2 - 2.5 rn
1.5 - 7.5


2 - 3.5 m

5 - 25

7.5 - 10% (from periphery to centre) 30 m Central inlet ipe with concentric i&t baffle of diameter 15% of the tank diameter and extending about 1 m below water surface

Multiple pipes on the width side with baffle boards of depth 0.5 m and 0.8 m in front of the pi e inlets and extending 2.P m below water surface for scum passover Overflow weir with V-notches to provide uniform flow at low heads. Scum baffles provided ahead of weir for wastewater installations depends upon feed 0.2 m / min


Peripheral weir rovided with notches. Scum baffle extending 0.3 m below Water surface provided ahead of effluent weir for wastewater installation

! -

Peak velocity Scraper arms velocity

1.5 m / min

Example 8.4
Design a rectangular horizontal-flow settling tank for the primary sedimentation of a maximum raw sewage flow of 0.25 m3 I s.

From Table 8.2 Surface overflow rate = 1.2 m I h Tank area required = 0.25 x 6 0 x 60/ 1.2 = 750 m2

Physical Treatment

Hence breadth B = 13.69 m and length L = 54.77 m Two hours flow = 0.25 x 60 x 60 x 2 = 1800 m3 Hence average depth = 1800/750 = 2.40 m Minimum length of weir = 0.25 x 60 x 60/ 12.5 = 72 m Clearly, a single weir across the outlet end of the tank will be insufficient. A double-sided 'U' shaped inset weir will be necessary for which the total width will be approximately 2 x tank width plus 4 x the extension back up of the sides of the tank. Hence e = 11.15 m Thus the weir channel will need to be inset about 1 m from the outlet end of the tank and the sides extending about 11 m back up the tank. In contrast, using a circular tank for the same duty Diameter for 750 m2 surface area Length of periphery = 3.14 x 30.9 = 97.1 m Thus a single-sided peripheral weir on a circular tank more than satisfies the maximum weir loading constraint. Example 8.5 Calculate the necessary design data for a secondary settling tank of an activated sludge treatment plant receiving a peak daily flow of 50,000 m3 of domestic sewage and operating with a mixed liquor suspended solids MLSS) of 300 mg I 1. 3! Assume a peak factor of 2.25; a surface loading rate of 20 m 1m2 d at mean flow and solids loading of 125 kg 1m2d at mean flow. Solution Peak flow --- M'OOO23,000m3I d Average flow= = Peak factor 2.25 Adopting a surface loading rate of 20 m3 1 m2d at average flow. 23000 Surface area required = -= 1150 m2 20 Check surface loading for peak flow :-

This is within the prescribed range (see Table 8.2) For solids loading of 125 kg I m2 d at average flow, the area required is

Area needed for peak flow at a solids loading of 250 kg 1m2 is

The higher surface area based on volumetric loading is adopted for design purposes. Adopting a circular tank, the diameter of the tank, d, is calculated thus :-

7 metres 38.26 3.142

Weir loading is calcualted as follows :-

The weir loading is higher than the prescribed value of about 150 m3 I m d and so on trough instead of a single weir should be provided at the periphery.

With small suspended solids and those having low specific gravities the actual settling velocities can become so low that removal by sedimentation is not a practical option. In water and wastewater treatment, this usually occurs with particles of less than about 50 pm in size. When high concentrations of flocculent particles are present, the creation of velocity gradients in the suspension causes collisions between particles with consequent agglomeration. This natural flocculation process can be enhanced by the application of controlled velocity gradients through hydraulic turbulence or mechanical stirring. The number of collisions in a suspension is proportional to the velocity gradient and the power input necessary to produce a particular velocity gradient is given by :

Sedimentation Flocdation and Filtration


P = power input per unit volume,

p = absolute viscosity of fluid, and G = velocity gradient in basin.
For hydraulic turbulence in a baffled basin


mf = mass density of fluid,
h = head loss in tank, and
t = retention time in tank.

In a tank stirred by rotating paddles


CD = Newton's drag coefficient,

A = cross-sectional area of paddles,
v, = velocity of paddles relative to fluid, and v = peripheral velocity of paddles. 2V = volume of tank

Example 8.6
A flocculation tank is 10 m long, 3 m wide and 3 m deep with a design flow of 0.5 m3/ s. Flocculation is done by three paddle wheels each with two blades 2.5 m x 0.3 m with the centre line of the blades being 1 m from the shaft which is at mid depth of the tank. The paddles rotate at 3 revs / min and their velocity relative to the water in the tank is three-quarters of the rotational velocity. Newton's drag coefficient for the paddle blades is 1.8 and the kinematic viscosity of the water is 1.01 x 10- 6 m3 / s at 20°C. Solution Paddle velocity = 2 x 3.14 x 1 x 3 / 6 0 = 0.314mIs

Relative velocity= 0.75 x 0.314 = 0.236 m / s Paddle area
= 3 x 2 x 2.5 x 0.3 = 4.5 m2

Total power input from equation 8.6

From equation 8.4 G = 70.8/ 1.01 x x lo3 x 10 x 3 x 3 = 27.9sIn many cases the concentration of suspended matter is not high enough for significant agglomeration to occur under tha action of flocculation alone. It is thus frequently necessary to introduce a chemical coagulant which precipitates in the water and enmeshes the suspended matter.



Physical Treatment

For most flocculent suspensions in water and wastewater treatment, the optimum velocity gradient is usually in the range of 25 - 75 s-'. There is some benefit in providing tapered flocculation such that high G values at the inlet encourage collisions and as the floc particles grow the agitation is reduced to prevent shearing of the floc.

With suspensions of particles whose mass density is close to or less than that of the surrounding fluid, settlement will be impractical. In these circumstances, the particles can be. more readily removed by encouraging them to float to the surface where'they can be removed as a scum. Particles with a density less than the fluid will wish to float in any event and those only slightly denser than the fluid can be given positive buoyance by the addition of a flotation agent. Small air bubbles make excellent flotation agents and the dissolved air flotation (DAF) process as shown in Figure 8.7 makes use of this property. About 10 per cent of the flow is recycled through a saturator operating at high pressure (up to 400 kPa). The pressurised flow is returned to the inlet of the flotation tank where it is mixed with the incoming flow at the bottom of the tank. The sudden drop in pressure causes the release of clouds of fine air bubbles from the supersaturated portion of the flow. These air bubbles become attached to suspended particles and thus cause them to float to the surface. DAF is particularly useful in water treatment for the removal of iron and manganese and with coloured low-turbidity water following chemical coagulation. Rise rates of up to 12 m / h can be achieved as compared with typical settling rates of around 2 - 4 m / h. Flotation units are thus much smaller than conventional settling units and can usually produce lower turbidities than sedimentation. The process can be rapidly brought into operation when required in contrast to floc blanket settling units which can take 24 hours or longer to achieve stable operation. The scum removed from the surface of flotation units usually has a significantly higher solids content than the sludge from gravity settlement of the same water.

Floatauon Zone

Figure 8.7 :Dissolved Air Flotation Unit

Flotation has applications in wastewater treatment for the separation of suspended solids in activated sludge systems and also for the thickening of activated sludges produced by conventional gravity settlement.

Beds of sand are frequently employed to provide tertiary treatment of wastewater effluents. In this situation, the main purpose of the bed is to remove fine suspended solids. Other forms of porous uncompacted solids in deep beds are used to provide adsorption and ion exchange processes.

8.5.1 Porous Bed Hydraulics
The hydraulics of flow through porous beds, which applies to clean filters and to granular activated carbon (GAC) and ion exchange beds is usually described by empirical relationships of which that based on the Carman Kozeny equation is probably the most used :

Flocculation and Filtration


h / l = head loss per unit depth of bed,

F = porosity of bed,
d = bed grain 'diameter',



= particle shape factor = A, /A,

A, = surface area of sphere volume, V,, A = surface area of bed grain volume V,
s = 1 for a sphere, s = 0.70 - 0.90 for sand grains,

E = [150(1 - F ) / R ]



R = Reynold's Number = vd/u, and
u = Kinematic viscosity of fluid.

Example 8 7 . A filter bed is composed of 900 mm of unit-size spherical sand, 0.5 mm diameter with a porosity of 40%. Determine the head loss when the clean bed is operated at a rate of 140 m / d. Kinematic viscosity of water at 20°C is 1.01 x 10- I5 m2 / s. Solution Filtration rate 140 m 1 d = 140/24 x 60 x 60 m / s

Reynolds Number In Eq. (8.7)

= 1.62


x 5 x l 0 - ~ / 1 . 0 l x 10-I5 = 0.8

E = [I50 (1 - 0.40) /0.8]


1.75 = 114.25

S = 1 for spherical particles

Hence head loss / unit depht

i.e., head loss 1 unit depth = 0.573 or head loss in 900-mm deep bed = 0.515 m The relationship in Eq. (8.7) applies for a bed of uni-size grains and for sand beds which are usually graded in arithmatic integration of head loss across, sieve sizes must be undertaken. In a bed which receives suspended matter, the porosity is continually changing due to the position of the solids and thus the head loss behaviour is dynamic. It is usually assumed that the rate of suspended matter with depth into the beds is a function of the inlet particle concentration. If all the suspended particles are retained by the bed, the overall head loss (H) for a unit size medium is thus made up of the 'clean-bed head loss' (h) as calculated from Eq. (8.7), plus an additional head loss caused by reduction in porosity due to deposition.


c, = influent suspended particle concentration,
t = duration of filter run, and

k = a constant depending upon bed and solids.

The build up of head loss with time can be pictured as shown in Figure 8.8 which illustrates the way in which negative pressure can be produced in a bed with detrimental effects on the rate of low. Dual media beds using sand and anthracite are often used to increase the length of filter runs without affecting filtrate quality. For optimum operation of a deep bed filter, it is desirable for the limiting head loss to be reached at about the

Physical Treatment

same time as the filtrate quality approaches the allowable limit. Such a situation can in theory be achieved by selection of appropriate bed depth and filtration rate for a given water quality and filtration rate. Such optimisation does, however, become difficult to achieve if the influent quality is not reasonably constant.

. . .

.. . . - . .

1 \ static pressure
Pressure when filtering tl. t2, t3. at Times


.-. .
Nagative pressure region

Figure 8.8 :Head Loss Build up in a Deep Bed Filter

8.5.2 Cleaning of Deep Bed Filters
For deep beds operating at low flow rates (up to 0.3 m / h) such as slow sand filters there is little penetration of solids into the bed. With flow rates in range 2 - 20 m / h, as typified by rapid filter beds, solids are carried deep into the bed and may eventually penetrate throughout the full depth causing a deterioration in filtrate quality. Low-flow rate deep bed units are cleaned when necessary by removing the top few centimetres of medium and washing it. The washed medium can be replaced on the bed when its depth becomes insufficient. High-flow rate beds can clog in 24 hours or less with turbid feed. Waters and solids penetrate deeply into the bed. Cleaning must therefore be carried out in-situ using a back washing process. This introduces previously filtered water into the base of the bed to give an upward velocity sufficient to fluidise the bed and produce an expansion of 10-20 per cent. During backwashing, the bed grains are violently agitated so that trapped and attached particles are released and carried upwards through the enlarged pores. The introduction of compressed air immediately prior to or at the same time as the wash water moves upward is common since it provides more effective cleaning. The backwash water is usually taken to a settling basin where the solids are concentrated for disposal and the water can be returned to the works inlet. The head loss per unit depth of an expanded bed during backwashing is given by


1 = expanded bed depth, and ,

f = expanded bed porosity. ,
The expansion which can be produced by a given backwash rate is a function of the settling velocity of the bed grains and the bed porosity


v b = backwash rate (based on superficial area of bed),

v, = bed grain settling velocity (from Eq. 8.1), and
n = an experimental constant (commonly 0.22).

Example 8.8
Determine the expansion produced when a bed with unit-size sand grains with a settling velocity of 100 mm / s and unexpanded porosity of 40% is backwashed at a rate of 36 m / h.

Unexpanded porosity = 40% Wash rate 36 m / h = 10 mm / s

fe = 0.4

From Eq. (8.10) 1,/1 = (1 - 0.4)/[1 - ( l o / 100)O.~~] 1.51 = i.e., bed expansion = 5 1% Both of the above expressions are for beds of uni-size grains so that for a graded bed, arithmatic integration between sieve sizes is necessary.

Sedimentation Flocculation and Filtration


8.5.3 Deep Bed Filtration in Practice
The essential characterisitcs of the two main types of filters used in wastewater treatment are sumrnarised in Table 8.4 and their main figures are shown in Figure 8.9. Conventional filters use beds of graded sand as the filtration medium and the bed grain characteristics

( I

Table 8.4 :Technical Features of the Conventional Slow and Rapid Gravity Flow Sand Filters
Parameters Rate of filtration Side of bed Depth of bed Size of sand

Slow Sand Filters 3m3/m2/d Large, 2000 m2 0.3 m of gravel; 1.2 m of sand, usually reduced to not less than 0.6 m by scraping Effective size 0.25 to 0.3 to 0.35 mm; coefficient of uniformity 2 to 2.5 to 3 Unstratified

Rapid Sand Filters


125m31m2/d Small, 200 - 400 m2

0.45 mm and higher-coefficient of uniformity 1.5 and lower, depending on underdrainage system Stratified with smallest or lightest

Grain size distribution of sand in filter Underdrainage system

Split tile laterals laid in coarse stone and discharging into tile or concrete main drams

(1) Perforated pipe laterals discharging into pipe mains; (2) porous plates above inlet box; (3) porous blocks with included channels 0.3 m initial to 2.5 m final 12 to 72 hrs. Deep Dislodgin and removing suspendedmatter by upward flow or backwashing, which fluidises the bed. Possible use of water or air jets, or mechanical rakes to , improve scour 1 to 4 to 6% of water filtered Coagulation, flocculation and sedimentation 20 - 40 Disinfection Relatively low Relatively high

Loss of head Length of run between cleanings Penetration of suspended matter Method of cleaning

0.15 m initial to 1 m final 20 to 60 days Superficial (1) Scraping off surface layer of sand and washing and storin cleaned sand for perio8c resanding of bed (2) Washing surface sand in place by washer travelling over sand bed 0.2 to 6% of water filtered Generally none

Amount of wash water used in cleaning sand Preparatory treatment of water Washwater rate m / h Air scour rate m / h Supplementary treatment of water Coct of construction Cost of operation



Disinfection Moderate to high Relatively low where sand is cleaned in place or labour costs I are low -Relatively low


Relatively high.

are usually specified by two parami-:ers : effective size -the aperture size which will pass , 10 per cent of the grains by weip ~ r and uniformity coefficient - the aperture size which passes 60 per cent of the particles by weight divided by the effective size. These two

Physical Treatment

parameters thus give a measure of the 'average' size of the grains and the 'width' of the grading. Slow filters normally use finer grains with a somewhat wider range of sizes than rapid filters as indicated in Table 8.4. Slow sand filters were the original form of filtration used in potable water treatment and are sometimes felt to be obsolete because of their large area and inability to deal with highly turbid waters. Nevertheless, for raw waters with less than about 30 NTU they can provide a very effective form of treatment which is particularly good at removing harmful micro-organisms. This latter property is of great value in developing countries where disinfection using chlorine may not always be possible. Much of the purification which takes place in a slow filter is achieved in the surface layers of the bed and the biological activity which produces a surface layer known as the schmutzdeke contributes to the removal of fine particulate matter and also causes some removal of taste and odour forming organic compounds. Slow filters will usually operate for several months before surface clogging grows to the point where the flow rate can no longer be maintained. At this point, surface scraping, manually or by machine, will restore the flow and the bed can be put back into service. To prevent disturbance of the bed surface, a depth 1 m of water above the bed is used and this provides the head required for flow through the unit.

(a) Slow Sand Filter

- - - .- - - - -3-


wahswater trough

sand gravel filter bonom and under drains

Washwater and qir scour


(a) Rapid Gravity F t ie lr


drain W a






-p Bed Filter

Pressure vessel

. . . -. : ... - : .. . ............ I . . ..._.. . .. . .............. . . . . . . .. .. . . . . . . . . . . ..,..,... . . . . -..... . .


- -filter bottom ana
~ a s h w a t i and r Ar Scour i
(b) Rapid Prossure Ntr le
Figure 8.9 :Qpes of b

Very fine suspended particles present in waste water sometimes cannot be removed by plain sedimentation. Such fine particles are settled by increasing their size by changing them into flocculated particles with addition of some chemicals to the waste waters. The chemicals are known coagulants and mostly used chemical compounds are ferric chloride, femc sulphate, alum, chlorinated copperas etc.

The chemicals when added to waste waters and mixed thoroughly, form a gelatinous precipitation known as floc. The fine particles and colloidal matters present in waste water get absorbed in flocs, forming the bigger sized flocculated particles. The coagulated sewage is then passed through sedimentation tank where flocculated particles after getting settled are removed. The addition and mixing of chemicals is known as coagulation. The coagulation process of sewage is similar to that of water and has been described in detail in the "Pollutants and Water Supply" course. But in modem plants of sewage treatment coagulation is not so common due to the following demerits : (a) The secondary biological treatments, which are used now a days are complete in themselves and do not need coagulation. (b) The coagulation and subsequent sedimentation produces larger quantities of sludge, adding to the problems of sludge disposal. (c) Chemicals used in coagulation react with sewage and during these reactions, they destroy certain micro-organisms, which are helpful in digestion of the sludge, thus causing difficulties in sludge digestion. (d) Cost of chemicals is added to the cost of treatment. Still in certain special cases, it is adopted as discussed below : (i) Using some special chemicals for treating sewage from a particular industry. (ii) When there is large seasonal variation (such as hill station where flow considerably increase during seasons) in sewage flow and the sedimentation tank gets overloaded. The addition of chemicals in such condition accelerates sedimentation. (iii) When there is space constraints for treatment plants. Coagulated settling tank requires less space than that is required by an ordinary plain settling tank. (iv) Where better effluent with lesser BOD and suspended solids is required.

Sedimentation Flocculation and Filtration

8.6.1 Properties of Some Common Coagulants Used in Sewage Treatment
Ferric Chloride Ferric chloride is a widely used coagulant. It forms a dense heavy floc settling rapidly. The sludge formed is not bulky and is digested and dewatered easily. BOD removal is 80 to 90%. Removal of suspended solids is around 90 to 95%. pH required for best result is 5.5 to 7.0 and dose require and in ppm is around 25 to 35. Ferric Sulphate with Lime

Ferric sulphate is more effective than chlorinated copperas if used with lime. BOD removal is 80 to 90%. Suspended solids removed is 90 to 95%. It gives best result in the pH range of 8.0 to 8.5 when added with dose of 35 to 40 ppm. Chlorinated Copperas Ferrous Sulphate (Copperas) with chlorine is called chlorinated copperas. This coagulant is effective for producing sludge for activated sludge process. BOD removal is 70 to 80%. 80 to 90% of suspended solids are removed. Best result is obtained when 35 to 80 ppm is added in the pH range of 5.5 to 7.0 and 9.0 to 9.5.

Although alum is very common coagulant used in treating water supply, it is generally not used in sewage because they form spongy floc which settles slowly and volume of sludge produced is large. BOD removal is around 60% and around 80% of suspended solids are removed.

It will be apparent from the preceding sections that much of the design of physical treatment processes is based on somewhat idealised concepts supplemented by pragmatic and empirical considerations. Failhire to understand the underlying mechanisms of the various processes can result irt ir~dtment units which perform inefficiently or unreliably.

Physical Treatment

8.7.1 Flow Distribution
In all but the smallest works, the total area or volume of treatment units need to be divided into multiple units. This allows for treatment to continue when one unit is being cleaned or maintained. In such a situation, it is, however, vital to ensure that flow distribution between the individual units is accurate. Many treatment plants perform badly because the designers have assumed that the principles of hydraulic similarity can be applied to a large works. Minor differences in elevation, pipe length, or valve characteristics can have a major influence on the flow received by different units. Studies have shown that because of poor flow-splitting arrangements in a group of four apparently identical settling tanks, one unit received almost 75% of the total flow. Not surprisingly, its performance was poor. As a general rule, flow splitting should be achieved by individual free-falling weir discharges as sketched in Figure 8.10.
1 I(


Free Dischaze Weirs




[ f Outflow +






Sbut off Penstock

= -



(a) 14an of the Flow Dividing Structure

(b) Flow Dividing Structure (SecUon A-A)

Figurr 8.10 :Flow Dividing Structurr

8.7.2 Subsidence
Major units like sedimentation tanks are prone to differential settlement due to ground conditions during and after construction. It is therefore common to see tanks where slight subsidence has affected the effluent discharge over weirs so that most or all of the discharge takes place over a fraction of the available length. This causes high local velocities with the likelihood of scouring of settled solids in vicinity. As outlined earlier, the problems of differential subsidence in sedimentation units can be greatly alleviated by using movable weir plates, preferably with 'Vee' notches, which can be re-levelled as necessary (see Figure 8.5).

8.7.3 Flow Pattern
It will be recalled that settlement theory assumes quiescent laminar flow conditions in the sedimentation basin. Horizontal and radial flow units for primary settlement of sewage, in particular, suffer from the fact that they have to operate under a wide range of flow dwfl with a feed varying considerably in its SS content and in conditions (perhaps 0.4-3 the settleability of those solids. Flow through studies often demonstrate that the residence time of the flow is much less than the theoretical detention time. With some rectangular horizontal-flow tanks tracer residence times of only 40 minutes or so have been recorded 0 under conditions when the theoretical detention time was 1 hours! It is perhaps fortunate that most of the settleable solids in raw sewage settle out rapidly but clearly when actual residence times are very much shorter than expected, the design of the tank must be in question. Careful baffling of the inlet to settling tanks can do something to reduce the 'submerged waterfall' effect which is inevitable when a flow containing suspended matter enters a tank whose contents have a lower density due to the settlement which has taken place. In the same way, the provision of ample discharge weir length and the extension of weirs over a large part of the tank surface can reduce short-circuiting effects to some extent. Flow distribution and flow patterns are also of considerable importance in filter installations, particularly in relation to the backwashing of rapid gravity filters. Uneven backwash flow distribution can result in the formation of 'mud balls' in the bed. These occur where deposited material is not scoured because of reduced backwash flow in an area of the bed, which if not rectified can quickly reduce the effective capacity of the bed.

An important point when flocculation is being carried out to improve the settling characteristics of a suspension is to ensure that the floc particles when formed are not subjected to excessive shear. If this happens the floc particles will be broken up and sedimentation will be ineffective. One particular plant undertook chemically-aided flocculation in a stirred chamber separated from the sedimentation chamber by a ported baffle wall. At the downstream end of the flocculation chamber large floc particles were visible but the settled effluent was of poor quality with a large number of fine suspended solids. Closer inspection showed that after passing through the ports in the baffle wall the large floc particles had been broken up. This was because the designer had made the ports in the baffle of sufficient area to pass the flow without checking the G value which would be produced. In fact the port area was very restricted and the G value was an order of magnitude higher than would have been appropriate to ensure safe transport of the floc particles. Enlargement of the ports transformed the performance of the settlement stage thus highlighting that although turbulence is necessary for floc formation, excessive turbulence can be counter-productive.

Sedimentation Flocculation and Filtration


By plotting a settling c i i a v cr. nccz\sar) to p .>\,!de LI 9ii7,' - . b horizcnta! frob srdiment:~!~<:~


Design alternative rectangt~:,::of 0.5 m3 I s cl\ing the cr;t e:~: provide the recluised cap<lcr:\

Calculate the necessary desa~,. sludge treatment plant reel. sewage anti operating wit!. :, i ) A~sulue peak facto!- o! C.'< 3 solids loading of 120 kg n i

A filter bed at sewage rrearrne spherical sand uf diametei : when the clean bed is oper~i:' sewage at 20°c may be takc .

Physical Treatment

Why chemical aided sedimentation is not so common in case of waste waters?

Discuss properties of some common coagulants used in sewage treatment.

This unit describes in the brief the process of sedimentation with its fundamental theory and design criteria of sedimentation tanks. Flocculation and coagulation also play an important role in the process of sedimentation. In fixed or attached growth systems the sewage is made to pass through filter beds also. The unit describes porous bed hydraulics and details of filters which explains the filtration process. Basic principles and design criteria with examples of sedimentation flocculation, flotation, filteration and coagulation have been given in this unit.

Concentration : A general term referring to the quality of a material or substance contained in unit quantity of a given medium. When the term concentration is used without further qualification, it now mean amount of substance concentration. : This is amount of liquid passing a plant per hour or per day.

Flow Rate, Q Filter Resistance

: This is equal to the head difference between inflow and
outflow (head loss). It increases as the voids in the filter medium gets clogged by retained particles.

Filtration Rate

: This is also called filtration velocity or flow velocity, through a filter area of 1 : A tank in which sewer containing sediment is retained for a sufficient time at a sufficiently low velocity to remove part of the settlement by gravity.

Sedimentation Tank

Suspended Solids
- - -

: The solids which are suspended in a sewage.

SAQ 1 Refer Example 8.3. SAQ 2 Refer Example 8.4. SAQ 3 Refer Example 8.5. SAQ 4 Refer Example 8.7. SAQ 5 Refer Section 8.6. SAQ 6 Refer Sub-section 8.6.2.

(1) Nathanson, Jerry A.: "Basic Environmental Technology",John Wiley and Sons; 1986. (2) Metcalf and Eddy Inc,; "WastewaterEngineering", Collection and Pumping of Wastewater,McGraw Hill, New York, 198 1. (3) Geyer, J. C.; and Lentz, J. J.; "Evaluationof Sanitary Sewer System Designs", The Johns Hopkins University School of Engineering, 1962. (4) Garg, S. K., "Sewage Disposal and Air Pollution Engineering", Khanna Publishers, Delhi, 1988.

Sedimentation Flocculation and Filtration