The Laminar Tube Flocculator’s current goals are based on a floc breakup theory by one of our former graduate students, Karen Swetland. Flocs are formed by unwanted particles sticking to each other to create unwanted masses in the water. These undesirable masses are then separated from the water later. Swetland's theory basically hypothesizes that when larger flocs are broken up during the flocculation process, they are given the opportunity to regrow and collect more particles, thereby resulting in a lower residual turbidity.
|The setup of the laminar tube flocculator team. The machines attached are called turbidimeters, and|
measure the influent and effluent turbidity.
So far, they have found that having one clamp in the middle arrangement of the tubing does not reduce residual turbidity when compared to the base case data. Their next steps are to test with multiple clamps to see if breaking up flocs more frequently throughout the process will reduce residual turbidity.
|Lab-scale turbulent tube flocculator. Newly built!|
However, turbulent tube flocculation best describes the process of the actual plants in Honduras. This semester, the turbulent tube flocculator team was primarily concerned with building a scaled version of the flocculator based off of designs by the Summer 2013 team. However, they hope to, like the laminar tube floc team, test Karen Swetland’s floc breakup research. While Karen’s research was done with the laminar system in mind, turbulence may have some effects on flocculation that aren’t reflected in testing with its laminar counterpart.
Both research teams’ efforts are centered on achieving lower residual turbidity. Regardless of whether floc breakup will help them better achieve this end, the results of their research will have implications for how the full-scale flocculator will be designed.