When the space above the suspension is subjected to compressed gas or the space under the filter plate is under a vacuum, filtration proceeds under a constant pressure differential (the pressure in the receivers is constant). The rate of filtration decreases due to an increase in the cake thickness and, consequently, flow resistance. A similar filtration process results from a pressure difference due to the hydrostatic pressure of a suspension layer of constant thickness located over the filter medium.
If the suspension is fed to the filter with a reciprocating pump at constant capacity, filtration is performed under constant flowrate. In this case, the pressure differential increases due to an increase in the cake resistance. If the suspension is fed by a centrifugal pump, its capacity decreases with an increase in cake resistance, and filtration is performed at variable pressure differentials and flowrates. The most favorable filtration operation with cake formation is a process whereby no clogging of the filter medium occurs. Such a process is observed at sufficiently high concentrations of solid particles in suspension. From a practical standpoint this concentration may conditionally be assumed to be in excess of 1% by volume. Filtration is frequently accompanied by hindered or free gravitational settling of solid particles. The relative directions of action between gravity force and filtrate motion may be concurrent, countercurrent or crosscurrent, depending on the orientation of the filter plate, as well as the sludge location above or below the filter plate. The different orientations of gravity force and filtrate motion with their corresponding distribution of cake, suspension, filtrate and clear liquid are illustrated in Figure 1. Particle sedimentation complicates the filtration process and influences the controlling mechanisms. Furthermore, these influences vary depending on the relative directions of gravity force and filtrate motion. If the suspension is above the filter medium (Figure 1A), particle settling leads to more rapid cake formation with a clear filtrate, which can be evacuated from the filter by decanting. If the suspension is under the filter medium (Figure IB), particle settling will prevent cake formation, and it is necessary to mix the suspension to maintain homogeneity.
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