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EP 316/ EP 325 Separation

Process Fundamentals

Lesson 7 - Sedimentation

0 Application of sedimentation
0 Batch settling test
0 Classification of settling behavior
0 Design of sedimentation tank
0 The thickener
 Sedimentation, also known as settling, may be defined as the
removal of solid particles from a suspension by settling under
 Clarification is a similar term, which usually refers specifically
to the function of a sedimentation tank in removing suspended
matter from the water to give a clarified effluent (include
flotation and filtration).
 Thickening in sedimentation tanks is the process whereby the
settled impurities are concentrated and compacted on the floor of
the tank and in the sludge-collecting hoppers.
 Concentrated impurities withdrawn from the bottom of
sedimentation tanks are called sludge, while material that floats
to the top of the tank is called scum.
 “Settleable” doesn’t necessarily mean that these particles will
settle easily by gravity. In many cases they must be coaxed out
of suspension or “solution” by the addition of chemicals or
increased gravity (centrifugation or filtration).
 Because of the high volumetric flow rates associated with water
and wastewater treatment systems, gravity sedimentation is the
only practical, economical method to remove these solids. i.e.,
processes such as centrifugation are not economical, in most
Produce a
clarified (free
of suspended

Goals of

Produce a
solid sludge
Applications of Sedimentation

Applications in Water Treatment

1) Settling of coagulated and flocculated waters prior to filtration.
2) Settling of coagulated and flocculated waters in a softening
3) Settling of treated waters in an iron and manganese removal
Applications in Wastewater Treatment
1) Grit removal
2) Suspended solids removal in primary clarifier
3) Biological floc removal in activated sludge
Coagulation Flocculation
• Coagulation is the first step  Following the first step of coagulation, a
destabilizes the particle’s charges. second process called flocculation occurs.
• Coagulants with charges which  Flocculation, a gentle mixing stage,
opposite with those suspended increases the particle size from
solids are added to the water to submicroscopic microfloc to visible
neutralize the negative charges on suspended particles.
dispersed nonsettable solids.  Collisions of the microfloc particles
• Once the charge is neutralized, the causes them to bond to produce larger,
small suspended particles are visible flocs called pinflocs.
capable of sticking together.  High molecular weight polymer, called
• The slightly larger particles, coagulant aids, maybe added during step
formed through this process, is to help bridge, bind and strengthen the
called microflocs, are not visible to floc, add weight, and increase settling
the naked eyes. rate.
 Once the floc has reached it optimum size
and strength, the water is ready for
sedimentation process.
Batch Settling Test

 To determine the settling characteristics for solids

Batch Settling Test
Several cases of settling behavior may be distinguished on the basis of the
nature of the particles to be removed and their concentration. Thus,
individual particles may be discrete (sand grains) or flocculent (most organic
materials and biological solids).
Settling of



Classification of Settling Behavior
Type Description Example

TYPE I 1. Settling of discrete particles in dilute Removal of grit and

(discrete particle suspensions. sand in
settling) 2. Particles have no tendency to flocculate. wastewater treatment
3. They settle as individual entities and there is no
significant interaction with neighbouring particles.
TYPE II 1. Settling of flocculant particles in dilute Removal of SS in
(flocculant settling) suspensions. primary
2. As particle settle and coalesce with other sedimentation tanks
particles, the sizes of particles and their settling
velocity increases.
TYPE III 1. Settling of intermediate concentration of Biological floc
(hindered settling) flocculant particles. removal in secondary
2. Particles are so close together that interparticle settling basins of
forces are able to hold them in fixed positions WWTP
relative to each other and the mass of particles
settles as a zone at a constant velocity.
TYPE IV 1. Settling of particles that are of such a high Occurs in the bottom
(compression concentration that the particles touch each other of deep secondary
settling) and settling can occur only by compression clarifiers (in sludge
which takes place from the weight of particles thickening facilities)
Type I: Unlimited Settling of Discrete Particles

 Removal of discrete particles in such low concentration that

each particle settles freely without interference from adjacent
particles (that is, unhindered settling).
 When a particle settles in a fluid it accelerates until the drag
force due to its motion is equal to the submerged weight of
the particle. At this point, the particle will have reached its
terminal velocity, Vp.
 Let’s look at a diagram for settling of an idealized spherical
Type I: Unlimited Settling of Discrete Particles
 Vp = the particle settling velocity (m/s)
 D = drag force
 W = submerged weight of the particle
 d = diameter of the particle (m)
 Ap = projected area of the particle
normal to the direction of motion (m2)
 p = volume of the particle (m3)
  = density of the particle (kg/m3)
 l = fluid density (kg/m3)
  = dynamic viscosity of the fluid
 CD = the drag coefficient
Type I: Unlimited Settling of Discrete Particles

 If a particle is suspended in water , it initially has 2 forces

acting upon it.
1) The force of gravity: 𝐹𝐺 = 𝜌𝑔 p
2) The buoyancy force: 𝐹𝐵 = 𝜌𝑙 𝑔 p
 Once motion has been initiated, a third force is created due to
𝑣𝑠 2
viscous friction: 𝐹𝐷 = 𝐶𝐷 𝐴𝑝 𝜌𝑙
 Force balance for a discrete particle that is settling:

Downward acceleration of particles

Type I: Unlimited Settling of Discrete Particles

 After an initial transient period, the acceleration becomes

zero and the settling velocity becomes constant.

𝑣𝑠 2
0 =(𝜌𝑔 p)−𝜌𝑙 𝑔 p − 𝐶𝐷 𝐴𝑝 𝜌𝑙
𝑣𝑠 2
0 =(𝜌 − 𝜌𝑙 )𝑔p − 𝐶𝐷 𝐴𝑝 𝜌𝑙

2𝑔(𝜌 − 𝜌𝑙 )𝑝
∴ 𝑣𝑠 =
𝐶𝐷 𝜌𝑙 𝐴𝑝
Type I: Unlimited Settling of Discrete Particles

 Settling velocity of spherical particles,

 In practice, it is found that CD is a function of the Reynolds

Number, Re, and, for spherical particles, it can be represented
by the following expressions:
Type I: Unlimited Settling of Discrete Particles

Laminar flow :

Transition flow :

Turbulent flow :

Settling velocity for spheres:

Laminar flow (𝑅𝑒 < 1), 𝐶𝐷 =
𝑣𝑠 𝑑𝜌𝑙
Settling velocity: 𝑔𝑑 2 𝜌𝑝 − 𝜌𝑙 Stoke’s law
𝑣𝑠 =
Type I: Unlimited Settling of Discrete Particles

At high values of Re, where CD  0.4, the equivalent expression is

Turbulent flow (𝑅𝑒 > 104), 𝐶𝐷 = 0.4

𝜌 − 𝜌𝑙
Settling velocity: 𝑣𝑠 = 3.33𝑔𝑑

 The general conclusion, that Vs depends on a particular

diameter, particle density and, under some conditions, also on
fluid viscosity and hence on temperature, is important in
understanding sedimentation behavior.
 This fact can be usefully applied to a study of settling in an
ideal sedimentation tank to provide an important design
principle for sedimentation processes.
Type I: Unlimited Settling of Discrete Particles

 Idealized representations of three common types of

sedimentation tanks: (a) rectangular horizontal flow, (b)
circular radial flow and (c) up-flow tanks.

(a) (b) (c)

Type I: Unlimited Settling of Discrete Particles

The ideal rectangular horizontal flow sedimentation tank is

considered divided into four zones:
1) Inlet zone - in which momentum is dissipated and flow is
established in a uniform forward direction
2) Settling zone - where quiescent settling is assumed to occur
as the water flows towards the outlet
3) Outlet zone - in which the flow converges upwards to the
decanting weirs or launders
4) Sludge zone - where settled material collects and is moved
towards sludge hoppers for withdrawal. It is assumed that
once a particle reaches the sludge zone it is effectively
removed from the flow.
Type I: Unlimited Settling of Discrete Particles

 Particles move horizontally with the fluid (all particles have the
same horizontal velocity), Vh.
 Particles move vertically with terminal settling velocity
(different for particles with different size, shape and
density), Vs.
Vs > Vc : All particles with will be
completely settled
Vc = critical velocity
Type I: Unlimited Settling of Discrete Particles

Sedimentation efficiency is
 According to this relationship, the independent
slowest-settling particles,
of tank depth - a
which could be expected to be completely removed
condition in an
that holds trueideal
only if
the forward velocity is low
sedimentation tank would have a settling velocity of Q/A. Hence
enough to ensure that the settled
this parameter, which is called the material
surfaceisloading rateand
not scoured orre-
overflow rate, is a fundamental suspended from thegoverning
parameter tank floor.
sedimentation tank performance.
Description of process steps
Pre-sedimentation To settle out sand, grit and gravel which will settle rapidly out of
the water without the addition of chemicals at the beginning of
the treatment process.
Coagulation Coagulant chemicals (e.g. Aluminium sulfate, Ferric Sulfate, etc)
is added to cause fine particles or solids to clump together
Flocculation Gently mixing is required in flocculation process. The process of
flocculation causes the fine particles that were created during
coagulation to mature into larger particles that will quickly settle
into holding basins.
Sedimentation Large, dense particles will settle, allowing the clarified water to
be separated and forwarded on through the remainder of the
water treatment process. Sludge on the bottom of the basin is
periodically removed.
Filtration To remove any remaining suspended particles in the water. Any
particles remaining in the water adhere to the filter media and are
removed from the water.
Exercise 1(a)

Calculate the settling velocity (in unit cm/hr) of grit

particles have a radius of 0.1 mm and a specific gravity
of 2.65 g/cm3 (sand, silt, and clay) at 20°C. Assume
CD=10 and water density is 1000 kg/m3.

4𝑔 𝜌 − 𝜌𝑙 𝑑
𝑣𝑠 =
3𝐶𝐷 𝜌𝑙
Exercise 1(b)

A continuous separating tank is to be designed to follow after a water

washing plant for liquid oil. Calculate the velocity (in unit m/hr) of oil
globules when leaving the washer. Diameter of oil globules is 5.1 x
10-5 m. The density of the oil is 894 kg/m3 and the temperature of the
oil and water is 38oC. Assume Stoke’s Law on this case.
Viscosity of water = 0.7 x 10-3 N.s/m2.

𝑔𝑑 2 𝜌𝑝 − 𝜌𝑙
𝑣𝑠 =
Exercise 1(c)

i. Find the settling velocity for sand particles with a diameter of 0.02
mm. ρ = 2650 kg/m3, µ = 1.002 x 10-3 N.s/m2 at 20oC.
ii. What is Vs for particles with D = 0.5 mm?
(Write the answer in unit m3/

iii. Compare Vs for both cases (Exercise 1(c)( i & ii) and explain which
sedimentation process is more effective and practical to be conducted.
Type II: Flocculant Settling

 It should be recognized that particles do collide and that this

benefits flocculation and hence sedimentation.
 In a horizontal sedimentation tank, this implies that some
particles may move on a curved path while settling faster as they
grow rather than following the diagonal line .
 This favors a greater depth as the longer retention time allows
more time for particle growth and development of a higher
ultimate settling velocity.
 In practice, tanks need to have a certain depth to avoid
hydraulic short-circuiting and are made 3-6 m deep with
retention times of a few hours.
Type II: Flocculant Settling

Hydraulic short-circuiting

 When wastewater enters a pond it does not all move

uniformly together from the inlet to the outlet. It mixes and
 Some of the water might enter a hydraulic dead zone and
remain there for some time. Most will mix into the main
body of the pond and then slowly discharge with the
effluent over a reasonable period.
 However, some water will enter and leave the pond in a very
short period of time - often just a matter of a few hours in
ponds that have theoretical hydraulic retention times
measured in weeks! This is called hydraulic ‘short-circuiting’
because it has short-circuited the full treatment process.
Type II: Flocculant Settling

 The advantage of low depths is exploited in some settling

tanks by introducing baffles or tubes.
 These are installed at an angle, which permits the settled
sludge to slide down to the bottom of the settler.
Type III: Hindered Settling

 As the concentration of particles in a suspension is

increased, a point is reached where particles are so close
together that they no longer settle independently of one
another and the velocity fields of the fluid displaced by
adjacent particles, overlap.

 There is also a net upward flow of liquid displaced by the

settling particles. This results in a reduced particle-settling
velocity and the effect is known as hindered settling.
Type III: Hindered Settling

 The most commonly encountered form of hindered settling

occurs in the extreme case where particle concentration is so
high that the whole suspension tends to settle as a ‘blanket’.
This is termed zone settling, because it is possible to
distinguish several distinct zones, separated by concentration

 Soon after leaving such a suspension to stand in a settling

column, there forms near the top of the column a clear
interface separating the settling sludge mass from the
clarified supernatant.
Type III: Hindered Settling

 This interface moves downwards as the suspension

Type III: Hindered Settling

 It is apparent that the slope of the settling curve at any point

represents the settling velocity (m/s) of the interface
between the suspension and the clarified supernatant.

 This once again leads to the conclusion that in designing

clarifiers for treating concentrated suspensions (Class III),
the surface loading rate is a major constraint to be

 The surface loading rate adopted must be less than the

zone-settling velocity of the influent suspension, to avoid
solids being carried over in the effluent.
Type IV: Compression Settling

 Very high particle concentrations can arise as the settling

particles approach the floor of the sedimentation tanks and
adjacent particles are actually in contact.

 Compression settling occurs as the settled solids are

compressed under the weight of overlying solids, the void
spaces are gradually diminished and water is squeezed out of
the matrix.

 Compression settling is important in gravity thickening

processes (activated-sludge final settling tanks, where the
activated sludge must be thickened for recycling to the
aeration tanks and for disposal of a fraction of the sludge).
Design of Sedimentation Tank

 In the case of ideal settling, the main design parameter to be

considered is surface loading rate, Q/A, because it represents
the critical particle settling velocity for complete removal.

 Practical Class II settling likewise requires that adequate

depth, H, or detention time, t, be provided in order to allow
flocculation to take place.
Uniform flow distribution cannot
always be assumed in practice
owing to density currents,
inadequate dissipation of
momentum at the tank inlet and
drawdown effects at the effluent
Design of Sedimentation Tank

 Surface loadings and detention times derived from theory

should be multiplied by a suitable safety factor, typically 1.7
to 2.5, for practical design.

 These considerations apply to all three types of tank

commonly used for Class II sedimentation, namely
rectangular horizontal flow tanks, circular radial flow tanks
and square up-flow tanks.

 For Class III sedimentation, it was also shown that the

surface loading rate is the major parameter to be considered
in design. The development of theory therefore applies to
the design of both Class II and Class III sedimentation tanks.
Design of Sedimentation Tank

 The design of sedimentation tanks for a given flow rate Q,

involves the selection of the surface loading rate, Q/A, from
which the required tank surface area may be calculated, and
either tank depth, H, or detention time, t. The relationships
between the various parameters concerned can be expressed
as shown below.
 For Q in m3/h and A in m2, the particle velocity (or suface
loading rate), Vp (m/h) is given by 𝑣𝑝 = 𝑉𝑝 =
 Detention time (hr), 𝑡 = where H is depth (m) 𝐻 𝑄
𝑄 𝑡 𝐴
Design of Sedimentation Tank

 The forward velocity must also be considered in rectangular

tanks, as excessive velocity may result in the scouring and re-
suspension of settled sludge. This requirement influences
the choice of length-to-width ratio for such tanks.

 Forward/horizontal velocity, Vh (m/h), is given by

𝑣ℎ = , where W is width of tank (m) or
𝑣ℎ = , where H is height of tank
Design of Sedimentation Tank

Some practical design data are provided for based on practical

experiences. Various features must be incorporated into the
design to obtain an efficient sedimentation process.

1) The inlet to the tank must provide uniform distribution of

flow across the tank.
2) If more than one tank exists, the inlet must provide equal
flow to each tank.
3) Baffle walls are often placed at the inlet to distribute even
flow, by use of 100-200 mm diameter holes evenly spaced
across the width of the wall.
Design of Sedimentation Tank

Typical values for a horizontal sedimentation tank:

Exercise 2(a)

Design pre-sedimentation tanks to be used to remove grit and

sand from a river water that is used to produce 20000 m3/d
drinking water. Use the overflow rate horizontal velocities
calculated in example 1(c) (V = 31 m3/m2.d). Use two tanks.

Given details:
Width to length ratio 1:4
Weir loading rate = 250 m3/
Retention time : 3 hours
Exercise 2(b)
A water treatment plant has a flow rate of 0.6 m3/sec. The settling
basin at the plant has an effective settling volume that is 20 m
long, 3 m tall and 6 m wide.

i. Will particles that have a settling velocity of 0.004 m/sec be

completely removed? If not, what percent of the particles will
be removed?

ii. How big would the basin need to be to remove 100% of the
particles that have a settling velocity of 0.004 m/sec?
Exercise 2(c)

Design a rectangular sedimentation tank to treat

2.4 million litres of raw water per day. The
detention period may be assumed to be 3 hours.

- Middle loaded rectangular sedimentation tank.
- Depth of tank = 3m
- Ratio length to width is 3
The Thickener

 The thickener is the industrial unit in which the

concentration of a suspension is increased by sedimentation,
with the formation of a clear liquid.
 In most cases, the concentration of the suspension is high
and hindered settling takes place.
 Thickeners may operate as batch or continuous units, and
consist of tanks from which the clear liquid is taken off at the
top and the thickened liquor at the bottom.
 In order to obtain the largest possible throughput from a
thickener of given size, the rate of sedimentation should be
as high as possible.
The Thickener

 Increase the sedimentation rate by

1) Addition of small quantities of an electrolyte, which
causes precipitation of colloidal particles and the
formation of flocs.
2) The suspension is also frequently heated because this
lowers the viscosity of the liquid, and encourages the
larger particles in the suspension to grow in size at the
expense of the more soluble small particles.
3) Incorporates a slow stirrer, which causes a reduction
in the apparent viscosity of the suspension and also
aids in the consolidation of the sediment.
The Thickener

 The continuous thickener

consists of a cylindrical tank
with a flat bottom.
 The suspension is fed in at the
centre, at a depth of from 0.3 to
1 m below the surface of the
liquid, with as little disturbance
as possible.
 The thickened liquor is
continuously removed through
an outlet at the bottom.
The Thickener

 Solids which are deposited on

the floor of the tank may be
directed towards the outlet by
means of a slowly rotating rake
mechanism incorporating
 The clarified liquid is
continuously removed from an
overflow which runs round the
whole of the upper edge of the
The Thickener

 The thickener has a two fold function.

1) It must produce a clarified liquid, and therefore the
upward velocity of the liquid must, at all times, be less
than the settling velocity of the particles.
2) The thickener is required to produce a given degree of
thickening of the suspension. This is controlled by the
time of residence of the particles in the tank, and hence
by the depth below the feed inlet.
Prepared by:
Dr. Ng Ching Yin