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Basic Design of Hydrocyclone

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Hydrocyclone is a static device that is used to separate heavy and light components of a liquid mixture in a closed vessel (cylinder in most cases). It has wide range of applications in different processes like separation of particles, removal of large particles, preparing solutions via controlled mixing, gravitational separation, removal of oil and water in oil refineries etc. Though its design is simple, separation mechanism is complex. Converting incoming feed velocity into rotary motion, it causes the centrifugal separation of materials contained in the liquid fed to it. The materials present in the liquid may be solid particles or gas bubbles or may also be of second immiscible liquid.

Flow Pattern in any typical Hydrocyclone is a spiral with in a spiral. On entry, fluid starts flowing down in the outer regions of the cylinder. When this fluid is subjected to rotational motion, it is constrained to create the outer spiral. A typical hydrocyclone consists of a conically shaped vessel, open at its apex (also known as spigot or underflow), joined to a cylindrical section, which has a tangential feed inlet. The top of the cylindrical section is closed with a plate through which passes an axially mounted overflow pipe. The pipe is extended into the body of the cyclone by a short, removable section known as the vortex finder. The vortex finder forces the feed to travel downward, which prevents short-circuiting of feed directly into the overflow.

The feed is introduced under pressure through the tangential entry, which imparts a swirling motion to the pulp. This generates a vortex in the cyclone, with a lowpressure zone along the vertical axis. An air core develops along the axis, normally connected to the atmosphere through the apex opening, but in part created by dissolved air coming out of solution in the zone of low pressure. The conventional understanding is that particles within the hydrocyclone’s flow pattern are subjected to two opposing forces: an outward acting centrifugal force and an inwardly acting drag. The centrifugal force developed accelerates the settling rate of the particles, thereby separating particles according to size and specific gravity (and shape). Faster settling particles move to the wall of the cyclone, where the velocity is lowest, and migrate down to the apex opening. Due to the action of the drag force, the slower-settling particles move toward the zone of low pressure along the axis and are carried upward through the vortex finder to the overflow. The existence of an outer region of downward flow and an inner region of upward flow implies a position at which there is no vertical velocity. This applies throughout the greater part of the cyclone body, and an envelope of zero vertical velocity should exist throughout the body of the cyclone

Parameters effecting performance of Hydrocyclone

Performance of Hydrocyclone is dependent on its design and operating parameters. Operating parameters like feed concentration, feed property (viscosity, specific gravity) and pressure conditions under which the machine is operated effects the performance of hydrocyclone. By changing the design parameters like Du, Do, cyclone diameter, cone angle, length of the cylindrical section, area of the nozzle and shape of the spigot, apex orifice etc is observed that its performance is being effected. From the previous studies, we can say that cyclone performance increases with increase in flowrate, feed solid concentration, cyclone diameter and apex size. It’s performance decreases with increase in cut size flow rate, viscosity, and inclined cyclones (especially low pressures). It is observed that vibration has degrading effect on the performance of Hydrocyclone. But there is no proper analysis available how this vibration varies with the parametres of hydrocyclone and how it effects the performance of hydrocyclone. By doing vibration analysis, performance of hydrocyclone may be optimized.

Dubey et al. studied the effect of various design and operating parameters on underflow discharge angle for spray condition only and correlated the spray angle with different design andoperating parameters for mono-density feed particles. Hydrocyclone performance could be monitored based on its operating state because this varies with the change in design and operating parameters. Neesse et al. proposed three hydrocyclone operating states, e.g., spray discharge, transition state and rope discharge. A comprehensive study was done by Gutierrez et al. to show the effect of feed solid concentration and feed flowrate on air core size. The air core sizewas observed to increase with increasing feed flow rate up to a certain maximum value for various feed solids concentrations. It was shown by Barrientos et al. that the increased viscosity of the fluid dominated the flow behavior leading to a decrease in air core diameter and tending towards roping behavior.

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