The hydraulic performances required of the sand with slow filters are inferior to those for rapid filters. In the case of slow filters, one can use fine sand, since the average filtration velocity that is usually necessary lies in the range 2 to 5 m/day.
In slow filtration, much of the effect is obtained by the formation of a filtration layer, including the substances that are extracted from the water. At the early stages of the operation, these substances contain microorganisms able to effect, beyond the filtration, biochemical degradation of the organic matter. This effect also depends on the total surface of the grains forming the filter material. The probability of contact between the undesirable constituents of the water and the surface of the filter medium increases in proportion to the size of the total surfac«
The actual diameter of the sands used during slow filtration typically lies between 0.15 and 0.35 mm. It is not necessary to use a ganged sand. The minimum thickness of the layer necessary for slow filtration is 0.3 to 0.4m, and the most efficient filtration thickness typically is at 2 to 3 cm.
The actual requirements for the sand in slow filtration are chemical in nature. Purity and the absence of undesirable matters are more important than grain-size distribution in the filtration process. On the other hand, the performance of rapid filters requires sands with quite a higher precise grain size. In the case of rapid filtration, the need for hydraulic performances is greater than in slow nitration. This means that the grain-size distribution of the medium is of prime concern in
In wastewater treatment plants, the purity of the sand media used must be examined regularly. In addition, both the head loss of the filter beds and an analysis of the wash water during the operation of washing the filters must be checked regularly. Special attention must also be granted to the formation of agglomerates. The presence of agglomerates is indicative of insufficient washing and the possible formation of undesirable microbiological development zones within the filter bed.
The primary mechanisms that control the operation of sand filtration are:
• Mass attraction, or the effect of van der Waals forces
Straining action consists of intercepting particles that are larger than the free interstices left between the filtering sand grains. Assuming spherical grains, an evaluation of the interstitial size is made on the basis of the grains' diameter (specific diameter), taking into account the degree of nonhomogeneity of the grains.
Porosity constitutes a important criterion in a description based on straining. Porosity is determined by the formula VL/VC, in which V c is the total or apparent volume limitated by the filter wall and VL is the free volume between the particles. The porosity of a filter layer changes as a function of the operation time of the filters. The grains become thicker because of the adherence of material removed from the water, whether by straining or by some other fixative mechanism of particles on the filtering sand. Simultaneously the interstices between the grains diminish in size. This effect assists the filtration process, in particular for slow sand filters, where a deposit is formed as a skin or layer of slime that has settled on the bed making up the active filter. Biochemical transformations occur in this layer as well, which are necessary to make slow filters efficient as filters with biological activity.
Filtration occurs correctly only after buildup of the sand mass. This formation includes a "swelling" of the grains and, thus, of the total mass volume, with a corresponding reduction in porosity. The increases and swellings are a result of the formation of deposits clinging to the empty zones between grains.
The porosity of a filter mass is an important factor. This property is best defined by experiment. A general rule of thumb is that for masses with the effective size greater than 0.4 - 0.5 mm and a specific maximum diameter below 1.2 mm the porosity is generally between 40 and 55 % of the total volume of the filter mass. Layers with spherical grains are less porous than those with angular material.
The second important mechanism in filtration is that of settling. From Stoke's law of laminar particle settling, the settling velocity of a particle is given by :
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