You are on page 1of 71


coagulation & Flocculation


Turbidity in water is caused by the

presence of suspended matter such as






microscopic organisms. Turbid waters

are classified into four types:


High turbidity and high alkalinity:

This is the easiest system to treat because

many coagulants are effective.
Cationic polymers provide good stabilization

It is likely that some anionic and nonionic

polymers of high molecular weight may be
effective, possibly at lower costs.

Alum (optimum pH range: 6-7) and ferric salts

(optimum pH range: 5-7) also generally prove
When these metal salts are used here, they
frequently do not need other coagulant aids or
addition of base for pH control.


High turbidity and low alkalinity:

Polymers function here as in type 1. Alum and ferric salts

are also effective, but care must be taken to measure pH

in testing. Addition of base may be needed.


Low turbidity and high alkalinity:

Polymers cannot work alone for these waters.

Additional particles must be added, usually before the
polymers. Clays are suitable targets.
Alum and ferric salts are effective in relatively large
doses, so that Al(OH)3 (s) or Fe(OH)3 (s), which is gelatinous

and may be stable, is precipitated.

Clay or activated silica added before the alum

may reduce the alum dose and should produce a
more settleable & dewaterable floc.
Polymers (often anionic) or activated silica added
after the alum may produce a more settleable

Low turbidity and low alkalinity:

These are the most difficult waters to coagulate.
Polymers do not work alone, again because of low
Clay or other targets may be added as in type 3.
Alum and ferric salts used alone are also usually
Options include:
adding lime or other base to bring the water to type
3, or
adding clay or its equivalent to transform the water
to type 2.


High turbidity means greater than 100 TU

and low turbidity means less than 10 TU.


High alkalinity is greater than 250 and low

alkalinity means less than 50 mg/L as CaCO3.


A Polymer is a chain of small subunits or


It may be large or small, their molecular

weight ranging from a few hundred to more

than 10 millions.

Polymers can have positive (cationic) or

negative (anionic), or they may not be
charged at all (nonionic).

Fig: Schematic Representation of functioning of Polymers with Colloids

Polymer charge can arise from many different

functional groups, eg carboxyl, sulphonate and
can vary with the pH of the water being
There is a stoichiometric relationship between
the concentration of particles to be destabilized

and the concentration of polymer needed to

bring about the destabilization.

At very low turbidity, polymers are ineffective

In case of destabilization based on neutralization,
polymer mol. wt. Is not an important factor and
small polymers can be used.

When the simple charge effect is not significant,







polymers, the polymers must bridge the repelling

particles, for which large or high mol. wt. Polymers
are needed.

Coagulant aids assist coagulation, this assistance is

provided in several ways

Added before alum in treating low turbidity waters,

activated silica can provide additional targets for
flocculation, which sometimes permits a reduction
in alum dose, usually produces a denser floc and
aids coagulation.

Among other kinds of coagulant aids, clays may be added to

provide targets and also produce denser flocs.

Added after alum, activated silica can help to bind small

alum flocs together into larger and denser aggregates. Alum
flocs often have a slight positive charge at a pH less than 7,
so that the destabilizing properties of activated silica as an
anionic polymer are useful here.
Activates silica is not likely to be effective if it is added
concurrently with alum since they react with each other.

Clay targets should be added before alum,

while polymers to destabilize alum flocs

should be added after alum addition.

Synthetic organic polymers may be used to
destabilize partially stable alum flocs.

It is likely that some anionic and nonionic

polymers of high molecular weight may be

effective, possibly at lower costs.
Alum (optimum pH range: 6-7) and ferric salts
(optimum pH range: 5-7) also generally prove
When these metal salts are used here, they
frequently do not need other coagulant aids or
addition of base for pH control.


Rapid mixing is an operation by which the coagulant
is rapidly and uniformly dispersed throughout the
mass of water. This helps in the formation of micro-

flocs and results in proper utilization of chemical

coagulant preventing localization of concentration

and premature formation of hydroxide which lead to

less effective utilization of the coagulant.

Type of rapid mixing unit:

a) Gravitational or Hydraulic devices
b) Mechanical devices
c) Pneumatic devices

Where head loss through the plant is to be

conserved as much as possible and where the

flow exceeds 300 m3/hr, mechanical mixing is


Salient features of rapid / flash mixer:

detention time = 20 40 Sec
temporal vel. gradient, G = 700 1000 per Sec
head loss = 20 60 cm of w.g. which is
equivalent to 1 3 watts per m3/hr of flow.

Gravitational or hydraulic devices are






mechanical or pneumatic devices are

flexible but require external power
Gravitational or Hydraulic Devices:
a) Hydraulic Jump Mixing:
This is achieved by a combination of a

chute followed by a channel with or

without a sill. The chute creates supercritical flow having a typical velocity

In the hydraulic jump mixing, loss of head is

appreciable (15 30 cm) and the detention

time (2 s) is also brief. This device, though

relatively inflexible, is simple and free from

moving parts. This can be used a s a

standby in large plants to the mechanical

mixers while for small plants, this can be

the main unit.

Sudden drop in hydraulic level of water over

weir can cause turbulence and chemicals

can be added at the plunge point with the

aid of diffuser.






chemicals can be added at the throat of a

venturi or just upstream of orifice located

within the pipe.

Rapid mixing can also be obtained by

injection of chemicals preferably in the

suction end or delivery end of low lift






maximum. In the system also, the

detention time is brief while the cost is

Fig: Schematics for Diffuser-Injection Mixers

Injection-type Mixer:
Same as typical turbulent pipeflow-plugflow mixer.
The coagulant is fed into in-coming flow through a
nozzle by a vertical turbine pump.

Recommended design values are:

G = 750-1000 sec-1
u = 6-7.6 m/s
T = 1 sec

Mechanical Devices:
Broadly two devices:

Rapid rotation of impellers or blade in water

Impingement over a plate

Propeller type impellers are primarily employed in flash

mixer @ rpm of 150-1500 or more. Also, turbine and

paddle-type are used.
Detention time: 10-40 sec (20-60 sec also reported)
Capable of creating vel. Gradient of 300 mps/m depth or

Power requirements: 1-3 watts per m3/h flow

Usually deep circular (diam. 1-3 m) or square tanks

The usual ratio of impeller diam. To tank diam, is 0.2 -0.4

the shaft speed of propeller is usually in the range of 150-

1500 rpm and for flat-blade turbine, it is 10-150 rpm)

imparting a tangential vel. greater than 3 mps. The ratio of

tank height to diam of 1:1 to 3:1 is preferred for proper


Fig: Rapid Mixers- Design Alternatives

Fig: Typical Rapid-Mixing Tanks- a) Back-Mix Impeller and b) Flat-Blade Impeller

Fig: Mechanical Mixer

Vertical strips or baffles projecting 1/10 1/12 tank diam., at least at four places

along the walls of the tank should be

provided to reduce vortex formation or

rotational movement of water about the

impeller shaft. The mixing chamber is

placed below the chemical feed floor

ensuring shorter chemical feed lines.

Mechanical agitator drive is an electrical motor with continuous duty

operating through a gear-type reducer.

Good results when the chemical coagulant is added near the tip
of the blade or propeller.
Consume very little head of water and permits better flexibility of

If short-circuiting takes place, provide one more compartment
Needs external power and constant attention and regular


Impingement Type:

Auxiliary pump is used to create the jet action

In-line Blender:
In contrast with the back-mix-type reactors, they are plug
flow type reactors that make use of high power devices for
mixing. They are manufactured commercially in standard
units (fitted in raw water pipe).

Their application is most suited when the predominant mode

of destabilization is adsorption in nature., which actually

exists when low doses of alum are introduced to high

turbidity water.

Fig: Rapid Mixers- Design Alternatives (Contd)

Design parameters values suggested are:

Power input:

0.37 kW per 43.8 lps (or 1000

Residence time: 0.5 sec
Head loss:

0.3 0.9 m

G value:

3000 -5000 sec-1

Pneumatic Devices:

When compressed air is injected or diffused







resultant work done is used for agitation.

They are usually uncommon in such mixing


Table: Relative merits and demerits of various Mixing Devices

Design equations:
G = (P/V)1//2 , where V is volume in m3 and in Pa-S; p
in watt; G in sec-1
For turbulent conditions,
P = (k/g) N 3 D5 , where
P=power requirement (N-m/s); = sp. wt., N/m3;
k = constant, whose value ranges from 1 for a

three bladed; g = gravitational acceleration, m/s2

Propeller to 6.3 for a turbine with six flat blades.; N in

rps, D= diam. of impeller in m

From the two previous eq. G N3/2

Also, it is stated that
G Toptm C1.46 = 5.9 x 106
Where, Toptm is optimum rapid mix period in sec and C is
concn. of alum dose in mg/L

Contact time and velocity gradient for rapid mixing:










Or the following equation could be used:

G = 2790 x T-0.35

Suggested for 20 sec or less detention time with a power

input of 1 2 hp for each cfs of


Chemicals used for Coagulation:

1. Alum (Al2SO4, 18H2O)

2. Copperas, FeSO4, 7 H2O
3. Chlorinated copperas, Fe2 (SO)4 & FeCl3
4. Sodium aluminate, Na2Al2O4

Design Parameters:

The rate at which flocculation proceeds depends on

physical and chemical parameters such as charge on

particles, exchange capacity, particle size & concentration,

pH, water temperature, electrolyte concentration, time of
flocculation, size of mixing basin, and nature of mixing

The total no. of particles collision is proportional to Gt

which is a useful parameter for the design and operation of

The desirable values of G in flocculation vary from 20 to 75 sec-1 and Gt

from 2-6 x 104 for alum flocs, and 1-1.5 x 105 for ferric coagulants,
The usual detention time T varies from 10 to 30 mins.


(G* )2.8 t = k


G* = optimum vel. Grad., sec-1

t = flocculation time in minutes

k = 4.9 x 105, 1.9 x 105 and 0.70 x 105 for alum dosages
of 10 mg/l, 25 mg/l, and 50 mg/l, respectively

For common alum dosage,

(G* )2.8 t = 1.63 x 105 to 1.22 x 105

Another useful parameter in flocculation is GtC, where C represents for

volume of flocs per unit volume of water. The values are of the order of
In case of tapered flocculation, which is often a preferred option in efficient
and energy-saving flocculation process, G values can be set as follows:

100 sec-1 in 1st tank

50 -60 sec-1 in 2nd tank

20-30 sec-1 in 3rd tank

Design Considerations of Flocculation:

The design of a flocculation basin using rotating blades involves a knowledge of
basin dimensions; blade dimensions and speed; computing the power; and
determining the values of G and Gt . These should conform to the accepted

values as enumerated below:

1) The power required is 0.5 1.5 watts /m3 of flow per hr
2) The peripheral velocity of paddles should be in the range of 0.15 0.6 m/s
(avg. 0.35 m/s)
3) The energy consumption is 0.75 to 2 kWh / ML of water treatment
4) Flocculation period is 20 30 mins

5) The total paddle area is usually 20-50% of the tank sectional area in the plane
of the shaft

6) The headloss is generally 15 cm

7) Horizontal velocity of flow = 0.75 m/min to 1.5 m/min
8) Distance from shaft to shaft = 2 to 4 m
9) Depth of tank is 2.5 4.0 m
10)CD = 1.8 for flat plates
11)K= 0.25 (in the absence of stators)
12)N = 1-5 rpm or more

The strength of alum solution:

5% for manual feeding

10% for mechanised feeding

Paddle Area Calculations:

P = CD AP vR3

Where, CD = Newtons coefficient of drag, 1.8

= density of water @ 250C = 997 kg/m3
v = relative velocity of paddles w.r.t. water, (generally, 75% of v)
AP = c/s area of the paddles

Fig: Clarifiers with Sludge Blanket Flocculation