Efficient Dewatering of Slimes and Sludges with a Bubble Column Evaporator
- Slime and sludge de-watering,
- bubble column evaporator,
- silica spheres,
- helium gas
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
The recalcitrant nightmare of de-watering slime/sludge is a major issue, for both industry and the environment. A simple process is developed that solves the problem. It uses a bubble column evaporator (BCE) with heated dry air. The model slime to illustrate the de-watering process was a concentrated dispersion of spherical 5 micron silica particles in pure water. Typical slime samples were de-watered in the range 20-35% colloid/water (w/w) using dry inlet gases pre-heated to temperatures of 150°C and 250°C. The BCE process was run at sub-boiling temperatures, with the column solution in the range, 43°C and 74°C, with those two inlet temperatures operating for de-watering the slime. A significant bonus is that the pure water vapour produced can be condensed and used as a source of high-quality water for reuse. The BCE process offers simplicity, resilience to slime feed quality, and a pure water biproduct. It also offers a continuous and controlled low-maintenance process. These are clear advantages in de-watering a wide variety of industrial slimes and sludges. In addition, the process involves the passage of a continuous flow of hot dry gases. This causes the dispersion to remain sufficiently fluid to allow easy transportation. However, once the hot gas flow ceased, the dispersion immediately solidified. The success of the bubble column process for dewatering and validation of the mechanism is even more enhanced if helium is used instead of air. It appears that hot helium atoms can disrupt water hydrogen-bonding in the liquid surrounding the hot bubbles and this enhances water vapour collection efficiency. The bubble method appears to offer more than significant advantages over other methods, such as hydrocyclone methods, which are often used to de-water mining wastes.
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