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Minerals Engineering 62 (2014) 2530

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Minerals Engineering
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/mineng

The theoretical partition curve of the hydrocyclone


Johann Dueck a,b,, Mohamed Farghaly c, Thomas Neesse a
a

Friedrich-Alexander-Universitt, Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany


L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University, Kazakhstan
c
Faculty of Engineering, Al-Azhar University, Qena, Egypt
b

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Available online 26 October 2013
Keywords:
Hydrocyclone
Partition curve
Classication
Fish-hook
Fine particle separation

a b s t r a c t
In many cases, the hydrocyclone partition curve exhibits a non-monotonic course in the ne particle
range. The so-called sh-hook effect indicates an increased separation of the ne fraction, which is of
practical interest and has a positive effect on solid/liquid separation. However, for classication purposes,
the separation is less distinct. In this contribution an equation of a partition curve containing a sh-hook
is derived considering the laws of disturbed settling in dense, polydisperse suspensions. The following
effects are considered: the entrainment of ne particles in the boundary layer of the coarse settling particles, the hindered settling due to the increased effective density and viscosity of the uid, and the counter ow of the displaced uid caused by the settling particles. The calculations indicate that the sh-hook
effect is primarily caused by ne particle entrainment, which is inuenced by the feed solid content and
the feed particle size distribution. An approximated analytical solution for the partition curve is presented for aRosinRammlerSperlingBennet (RRSB)-distributed feed. Experiments using 25-mm hydrocyclone conrm the calculations.
2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
The fundamental scheme for the hydrocyclone is shown in
Fig. 1a.
The partition curve (Fig. 1b) used to characterize the separation
efciency of the hydrocyclones involves the mass fraction T(d) for
each particle size d, which is discharged in the coarse product
(underow). Schubert and Neesse (1980) demonstrated that the
typical S-shaped partition curve derives from the superposition
of the settling ow and a turbulent diffusion ow in the rotating
uid.
The so-called tapping model (Neesse et al. (1991), Schubert
(2010)), which neglects the distribution of the hydrodynamic characteristics in the processing zone of the apparatus, describes the
inuence of various factors on the separation characteristics. The
theoretical partition curve calculated using the free settling velocity according to the Stokes formula, increases monotonically with d
(see the dashed curve in Fig. 1b).
However, in many cases in the ne particle range, an increased
particle removal can be observed (see the continuous curve in
Fig. 1b). This so-called sh-hook effect is subject of many investigations and discussions.
Corresponding author at: Friedrich-Alexander-Universitt, Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. Tel.: +49 9131 85 23 200.
E-mail address: johann.dueck@mbt.uni-erlangen.de (J. Dueck).
0892-6875/$ - see front matter 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mineng.2013.10.004

Downloaded from http://www.elearnica.ir

The phenomenon of increased ne particle removal through the


underow leads to practical consequences. For example, increasing
the removal of ne particles is benecial for water purication by
removing mechanical impurities. However, the sh-hook effect is
detrimental to ne particle classication because it reduces the
separation sharpness.
Although the non-monotonic separation function was described
in the scientic literature (Finch (1983), many years ago, no consensus has developed regarding the physical basis of this
phenomenon.
Some researchers remain skeptical (Flintoff et al. (1987), Nageswararao (2000)) of this effect, believing that it has no physical basis and that the experimental observations are the result of
agglomeration phenomena, measurement errors, or the variations
in the particles size fractions relative to their shape and density.
These doubts have been analyzed and refuted by Dueck et al.
(2007).
After analyzing the statistical properties of the measurements,
Bourgeois and Majumder (2013) came to the same conclusion that
the shhook effect is a real physical phenomenon.
In several publications by Finch (1983), Del Villar and Finch
(1992), and Kraipech et al. (2002), empirical correlations have been
developed to describe the sh-hook effect.
Schubert (2003, 2004) provided a qualitative explanation of the
sh-hook effect using the buoyancy acting on the particles in a
non-uniform rotational ow. The random motion of particles of

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J. Dueck et al. / Minerals Engineering 62 (2014) 2530

Nomenclature
a

cV
d
dm
Dc
Do
Din
Dt
D(d)
E(d)
fe(d)
g(cV)
q(d)
H

centrifugal acceleration ()
entrainment constant ()
total volume solid concentration ()
particle size (lm)
characteristic particle size (lm)
diameter of the cylindrical portion of the hydrocyclone
(mm)
overow diameter (mm)
diameter of the inlet (mm)
coefcient of turbulent diffusion (m/s2)
deceleration function for the disturbed settling ()
acceleration function ()
entrainment function ()
function of solids content ()
density of the particle size distribution (lm1)
depth of the sh-hook ()

n
uin
Dp
s
S
T(d)
Vh(d)
VS(d)
VSt,j
wtan
_o
W
_u
W

parameter of the distribution function (


velocity of the suspension ow in the inlet (m/s)
inlet pressure (bar)
internal variable of integration (lm)
volume split ()
partition function
hindered settling velocity (m/s)
settling velocity (m/s)
Stokes velocity (m/s)
maximum tangential velocity (m/s)
suspension throughput at overow (m3/s)
suspension throughput at underow (m3/s)
uid density (kg/m3)
solid density (kg/m3)
uid viscosity (kg/ms)
Gamma function ()

qf
qp
lf
C

varying sizes in a turbulent environment was considered by Wang


and Yu (2010). Majumder et al. (2003, 2007) attempted to explain
the origin of the sh-hook effect using a sudden decrease in the
settling velocity of the coarser particles due to the Reynolds
number restriction. Roldan-Villasana et al. (1993) introduced the
concept that a turbulent dispersion could inuence the motion of
ne particles.
These concepts have not yet been applied in a systematic
calculation to determine which parametersthe hydrocyclone,
the particulate material and/or the operating conditionscontrol
the characteristics of the sh-hook effect.
Kraipech et al. (2002) pointed to the mechanism of ne particle
entrainment by larger particles, but did not offer an appropriate
mathematical model. This was provided by Dueck et al. (2004),
who explained the non-monotonic separation curves through the
entrainment of ne particles caught in the boundary layer of the
coarse, rapidly settled particles. This model is based on experiments of Gerhart et al. (1999) and Kumar et al. (2000) and has
already been implemented in the computations of Minkov and
Dueck (2012).
By varying several parameters, the computer simulations
require considerable effort.

Therefore, this work focuses on the approximated analytical


calculation of the separation and should be presented in a convenient form for analytical estimations that consider the collective
effects of disturbed settling in a dense polydisperse suspension.
2. Partition function
According to the tapping model of Schubert and Neesse (1980),
the partition function T(d) as a function of the particle size d can be
expressed as follows:

Td

1
h
i:
Dc
V s d
1 Sexp  2D
t

In this equation, the volume split is represented by


_ o
W
_
_
SW
_ u in which W o and W u are the suspensions ows of the overow and underow, respectively. The value of S can be determined
using empirical formulas (Bradley (1965)).
Furthermore, Dc is the diameter of the cylindrical portion of the
hydrocyclone, and Din is the diameter of the inlet.
This model assumes that the turbulent diffusion coefcient Dt of
the particle is independent of its size. Thus, the shape of the

Overflow
Do

Din
Vortex finder
Dc

Partition function T(d), -

Inlet

Partition function
0.75

Partition function
(after Stokes)

0.5

H
0.25

0
0
Du

10

15

Particle size d, m

Underflow

(a)

(b)

Fig. 1. (a) Principal scheme for the hydrocyclone and (b) partition curve of the hydrocyclone.

20

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J. Dueck et al. / Minerals Engineering 62 (2014) 2530

partition function is determined primarily by the settling velocity,


Vs. According to Eq. (1), T(d) is a monotonous function of d if Vs(d) is
also a monotonous function of d. The Stokes formula for Vs yields
the monotonous S-shaped line of the partition function (Fig. 1b).
The separation curve T(d) increases monotonically from T(0) < 1
at d ? 0 to T = 1 at d ? 1.
The partition function is typically characterized using the following parameters:
(a) d50 the cut size with a 50% fractional recovery in the
underow (Eq. (1) indicates that, for d50, V s d50
2Dt =Dc ln S).
(b) T0 the value of T(0).
(c) Tmin the minimum value of the function. When the Stokes
formula is applied to obtain Vs, T0 = Tmin.
In many cases, the experimental determination of the partition
curve demonstrates that the curve has a minimum value for particle sizes below 10 lm (Fig. 1b). Such separation curve behavior is
called the shhook effect. This phenomenon can result from disturbed particle settling due to particle interactions as described by
several researchers (Roldan-Villasana et al. (1993), Kraipech et al.
(2002), Dueck et al. (2004)).
3. Disturbed particle settling in a polydisperse suspension
Some experimental and theoretical results have been obtained
regarding the settling of dense suspensions (Gerhart et al. (1999),
Gerhart (2001), Kumar et al. (2000), Dueck et al. (2004), Minkov
and Dueck (2005)). These studies focused on the settling behavior
of polydisperse suspensions. The settling of polydisperse
suspensions involves the following interparticle effects:

As demonstrated by Eq. (2), the predicted sedimentation velocity of a particle depends not only on its size, the medium properties, and the solid-phase concentration in the suspension but also
on the particle size distribution.
4. Approximation for the RRSB size distribution
In the present work, specic equations are derived for a typical
case when the two-parameter RRSB (RosenRammlerBennet
Sperling) function for the particle size distribution is used:

qd

 n1
  n 
n d
d
exp 
dm dm
dm

in which dm is the characteristic particle size and n characterizes the


steepness of the distribution function.
For this case, the integrals in Eq. (2) can be estimated (Dueck
et al., 2010), which leads to the following expression for the sedimentation velocity of particles in a polydisperse suspension:

0
11=3
 2
2
B
C
V S d
dm
6=n 1C 6=n 1
C
gcV B
1
@ 6n
A
V h d
d
n
bd

6=n

1
C
6=n

1
dm
 2 


dm
2

cV C
1
n
d

Eq. (4) contains an integral representation of the gamma funcR1


tion: Cz 1 0 t z ez dt. For simple engineering calculations, rational functions are convenient. Taking into account that the
parameter n varies over a narrow range of 11.5, the following
approximation can be applied:

Cz 1 2:6  103 z6:8 :


1. Hindered settling due to an increased effective density and
viscosity of the uid.
2. Counter ow of the displaced uid caused by particle settling.
3. Entrainment of ne particles in the surrounding coarse settling
particles.
If the particles size distribution is presented as a continuous
R1
function, q(d), such that 0 qsds 1, then the settling rate
equation of a particle can be written as follows:

V S d
2
2
1 d gcV fe bd  d cV
V h d

s2 gcV fe bsqsds

ad2j qp qf
18lf

V S d
1ED
V h d

in which the entrainment function E and the deceleration function


D are


E

in which, according to Dueck et al. (2004) and Minkov and Dueck


R1
1=3
(2005) fe d bd s6 qsds ; gcV 94 c2=3
V exp5cV , V h V St
1  cV 4:5 , V St;j

Similarly, we can write g(cV) = 0.9c0.46.


Thus, Eq. (4) can be presented as follows:

dm
d


D

2

dm
d

0
@
0:9c0:46
V

6:76  106 6=n 1  6=n13:6


dbdm

6n
n

2:6  103 6=n 16=n6:8

2 (
 6:8 )
2
3
2:6  10 cV
n

11=3
A

, and b  15(1 + 10, 5cV).

The rst term on the right side of Eq. (2) corresponds to the hindered sedimentation velocity of a particle (the Stokes velocity accounts for the impact of solid content). The second term, the
2
acceleration function E d gcV fe bd, reects the increase in
the particle velocity due to its entrainment by larger particles.
R1
2
The third term, the deceleration function D d cV 0
s2 gcV fe bsqsds, determines how the ow of the liquid displaced by the settling solid phase inuences the particle settling
velocity.
In Eq. (2) the following designations are used: a centrifugal
acceleration, entrainment constant, cV total solid volume concentration, g(cV) function of the intensity of the entrainment on
the solid concentration, fe(d) entrainment function, q(d) density
of the particle size distribution, VSt(d) Stokes settling velocity,
Vh(d) hindered settling velocity, qf uid density, qp solid
density, lf uid viscosity in kg/ms.

Fig. 2 illustrates the values calculated using Eqs. (5)(7) and


indicates that for small particles the acceleration mechanism dominates, but for larger particles the deceleration effect is more
important.
The comparison with Vh (the Stokes velocity, corrected relative
to the solid content) demonstrates that small particles can settle at
velocities several orders of magnitude higher than that determined
using the Stokes law. For large particles, both functions E(d) and
D(d) are negligibly small, and the actual settling velocity VS (d) is
slightly lower than that of Stokes because the suspension has a
higher density and viscosity than water.
5. Experiments and calculations
The experiments conducted by Gerhart (2001), taken for a comparison with the calculations, are listed in Table 1.

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J. Dueck et al. / Minerals Engineering 62 (2014) 2530

1.0E+05

Sedimentation functions,-

Entrainment function E(d)


Counter Current function D(d)

1.0E+03

Total effect 1+E(d)+D(d)


1.0E+01

1.0E-01

1.0E-03

1.0E-05
0.01

0.1

10

Relative particle size, (d/dm)


Fig. 2. Disturbed settling functions (Eqs. (5)(7)) dening the interaction of particles during settling in an RRSB-distributed suspension, depending on the relative particle size
(data used for calculation: n = 1.2, dm = 6 lm, cv = 0.04).

The particle size distribution for the dispersed materials used in


the experiments can be approximated using Eq. (3) with the
parameters dm = 6 lm and n = 1.23 provided in Table 1.
In Eq. (1), the volume split value (S) is derived from the experimental results with a value of S = 7.5.
The centrifugal acceleration (a) was determined using the formulas of Schubert et al. (1990) and Heiskanen (1993) as follows:

a w2tan =Dc

in which the maximum tangential velocity is

wtan 3:7

Din
uin
Dc

and the velocity of the suspension ow in the inlet is

Dof
uin 0:52
Din

!0:5
Dp

qf

10

For the diffusion coefcient Dt the following equation can be


used (Schubert et al. (1990)):

Dt 16  104 wtan Dc :

11

Applying these formulas to the parameters listed in Table 1, the


following values can be obtained:

uin 5:33 m=s; wtan 7:9 m=s; a 2490 m=s2 ;


Dt 3:2  104 m2 =s:
Using these values, Eqs. (5)(7) can be applied to calculate the
settling velocities of particles of varying sizes.

Table 1
Parameters of hydrocyclone experiments.
Hydrocyclone diameter
Inlet diameter
Overow diameter
Feed pressure
Particle density
Particle size distribution of ne material (Mf)
Particle size distribution of coarse material (Mc)

Dc = 25  103 m
Din = 10.5  103 m
Dof = 1  102 m
Dp = 105 Pa
qp = 2.6 g/cm3
dm = 6 lm, n = 1.2
dm = 11 lm, n = 1.3

6. Comparison of the calculated and measured partition curves


Using the values of S, Dc, Vs and Dt, the partition function in Eq.
(1) can be determined. Fig. 3 presents the calculation of the settling
velocities and the partition curves for two different conditions:
rst, for the settling according to Stokes, and second, considering
the disturbed settling in dense suspensions.
The settling velocity as a function of particle size is a nonmonotonous function. As previously mentioned, the shape of the
partition curve under given operational conditions depends only
on the settling velocity. Therefore, the partition curve may have a
shape similar to that of the settling velocity curve versus the particle size. Non-monotonous course of the sedimentation velocity
could be the reason for the so-called sh-hook effect, which, in
practice, often manifests itself as the measured curve. This result
is in agreement with the investigations of Gerhart (2001) and Dueck et al. (2007).
A comparison between the calculated values and the experimental results under the conditions listed in Table 1 is presented
in Fig. 4.
The separation model indicates that there is sufcient condence in the explanation of the sh-hook effect. No further accordance can be expected for the deviation between the experimental
and calculated values given the extensive simplications in the
ow model.
Experimental partition functions demonstrate the sh-hook effect, which can be characterized by the depth H (the difference between the value of partition function at d = 0 and the minimum
value of the separation curve) as indicated in Fig. 1b. The calculated
and measured values of H, depending on the solid content (cv) for
the materials provided in Table 1, are plotted in Fig. 5.
The sh-hook depth (H) presents a non-monotonic curve versus
the solid content cv as predicted by the disturbed settling. Fig. 5
also indicates that the values of T(0) vary with cV in a manner similar to that of H.
Using this fact, the dependence of T0 on the suspension parameters can be analyzed as follows:
In Eq. (5), D can completely neglected relatively to E if d tends
toward zero as demonstrated in Fig. 2. Considering the denominator of Eq. (6), in the function E, the term containing d can be
neglected.
After the transformations, the settling velocity of the smallest
particles, Vs(0) (d tends toward zero), can be obtained:

29

J. Dueck et al. / Minerals Engineering 62 (2014) 2530

1.0E+08

1.0E+06

0.75
Settling velocity

1.0E+04

0.5
Partition function
(Stokes velocity)

1.0E+02

0.25

Partition function, -

Settling velocity, m/s

Stokes velocity

Partition function
(disturbed settling)

1.0E+00

0
0.1

10

100

Relative particle size d/dm, Fig. 3. Calculated partition curves and settling velocities for a 25-mm hydrocyclone using a ne particle suspension and solid content cV = 0.04. The parameters are listed in
Table 1.

1
Mf (calc)

Mc (calc)

Mf (exp)

Mc (exp)

Partition function, -

Partition function, -

1
0.8
0.6
0.4

0.8

dm=6 m

0.6

dm=7 m
dm=8 m

0.4

dm=9 m

0.2

0.2

T(d) after
Stokes

0
0

0.1
0.1

10

100

Relative particle size, m


Fig. 4. Calculated and measured partition functions for a 25-mm Hydrocyclone
using a solid content cV = 0.04, a ne particle suspension Mf and a coarse particle
suspension Mc (parameter are listed in Table 1).

0.8

0.6

Mc (calc)

0.4
T(0), -

Fish-Hook depth H,-

Mc (exp)

0.6

Mf (exp)

0.4
Mf (calc)

0.2
T(0) for Mc

0.2

T(0) for Mf

0
0

0.1

0.2

0.3

0.4

Solid volume concentration cV,Fig. 5. Comparison of calculated and measured sh-hook depths as a function of
the solid concentration.

4:5 2:26
V S 0 7:07V St dm c0:46
n
V 1  cV

12

in which VSt(dm) is the Stokes sedimentation velocity for a particle


of size dm.

10

100

Relative particle size, m


Fig. 6. Partition curves for different dm values at n = 0.23 (all other parameters are
provided in Table 1).

The maximum value of VS(0) in Fig. 5 occurs at the concentration cV = 0.09, which is higher than the experimental value of
approximately 0.04.
In addition, VS(0) explicitly depends on the parameters dm and n
2
from the size distribution in Eq. (12): V S 0 / dm and VS(0) / n2.26.
Given VS(0), T0 can be easily estimated based on Eq. (1).
The calculated and experimental curves of H are qualitatively
similar, but quantitative differences can arise for various reasonsthe simplications included in Eq. (5), for example. Specically, these variations may be caused by the difference between
the inlet solid concentration used for the calculations and the actual cV values inside the hydrocyclone.
The physically reasonable model appears to adequately describe some of the effects observed in the experiments. A parametric study using the particle size distribution Eq. (3) was performed
to clarify the effect of the constants in the equation on the value of
the sh-hook.
In Fig. 6, each curve is drawn by changing one variable only (dm)
with all other parameters held constant. The increase in dm causes
a marked increase in T0 and smooth increases in the Tmin values,
leading to an increased depth of the sh-hook effect (H), which
can be interpreted as follows: the coarser the particles, the greater
the chance for small particles to enter the boundary layer of a large
particle and be captured by it.
This phenomenon is conrmed by the experiments of Gerhart
(2001) in which small and coarse materials were mixed in various
proportions. In these experiments, the value of H increased steadily
with the proportion of the coarse material.

30

J. Dueck et al. / Minerals Engineering 62 (2014) 2530

Partition function, -

n=1.1

0.8
n=1.2

0.6
n=1.3

0.4
n=1.4

0.2
T(d) after
Stokes

0
0.1

10

100

Relative particle size, m


Fig. 7. Partition curves for different n values using dm = 8 lm (all other parameters
are provided in Table 1).

Fig. 7 illustrates that the growth of parameter n leads to a weakening of the sh-hook effect.
Thus, the theory predicts that the effect should be particularly
signicant for a suspension with at distribution functions and
more coarse fractions.
7. Conclusions
The presented separation model rst enables the rst approximated calculation of the non-monotonous course of the hydrocyclone partition curve. The model indicates the importance of the
disturbed settling of the particles. Even given the excessive simplications of the complicated three-dimensional turbulent ow inside the cyclone, the separation can be satisfactorily simulated by
considering the particle interactions.
The entrainment of the ne particles by the settling of the
coarse particles is primarily responsible for the sh-hook effect.
Consequently, the parameters of the feed size distribution and
the feed solid content were introduced into the equation for the
partition curve, providing a new element in the separation model.
Although the experimental database remains relatively small, the
experiments with a 25-mm cyclone largely conrm the calculations. One can conclude that the hydrocyclone separation in the
ne particle range is primarily limited by the sh-hook effect,
which can be explained physically. The approximated partition
function also indicates the factors inuencing the sh-hook effect.
These factors can be controlled using known methods: dilution of
the feed and/or changing the feed size distribution using a multistage separation. The opposite is true for thickening and successfully removing the nest fractions in which high sh-hook
fractions would be advantageous, and the addition of coarse
particles for that purpose is less practicable.
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