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:: Bridging the Gap in Solid Liquid Separation
A software program developed for an AMIRA International project has bridged the gap between knowledge and practice in the modelling of solid liquid separation.
Research on rheological modelling of solid liquid separation has been in development since the mid-1980s. Using a theoretical framework, researchers developed mathematical models to simulate solid liquid separation processes. Characterisation and test equipment was then developed to measure key inputs for the models.
Yet whilst the equipment and processes the researchers developed represented major advances in solid liquid separation, industry found they were impractical and ineffective to use on a routine basis. Testing for example required days, not hours, and relied on custom-made laboratory experimental rigs.
The initiation of AMIRA project P527, Bayer Process Flocculants, sought to rectify the industry's problems by turning the mathematical theories into practical tools.
Early on, key achievements of the project included the development of a fully automated piston-driven filtration rig called the Press-o-matic. The new rig worked faster, with smaller sample sizes and to a greater precision than the initial research-oriented rig.
In addition, the Press-o-matic software introduced Stepped Pressure Filtration testing which required just two tests to characterise samples over a range of operational pressures. It was subsequently redesigned into a compact air driven compression cell, which was received with strong interest from international laboratories and researchers.
The process was again refined in the second stage of the AMIRA project, P527B, through the development of the Batch Settling Analysis and Modelling (SAMS) software. This technology now required only one settling test to determine a full de-waterability characterisation.
The P527B-SAMS was first made available to project sponsors at the end of 2003.
The primary benefit of the technology is that reliable quantitative data can now be obtained in situ, particularly advantageous for studying the effect of shear processes on the de-watering of suspensions and for characterisation of the effect of polymeric flocculation on de-waterability.
This technology is now available to project sponsors - made up from various alumina companies and flocculant suppliers - to utilise in optimisation of solid liquid separation processes and flocculant application.
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