Polymer is a generic term that applies to large human-made molecules built out of a repetitive chain of atoms. Flocculants are a type of polymer.
The best performing flocculants in the aggregate industry are generally Anionic Polyacrylamides. These flocculants employ an ionic attraction to form a bridge of fines particulate into a larger conglomeration of solids that rapidly settle.
Yes, dry Polyacrylamides are very safe. The EPA and local environmental officials typically allow their use. Some emulsion (liquid) flocculants are more closely monitored, as they contain surfactants and hydrocarbons. In potable water applications, a GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) flocculant is used, which contains very few free monomers.
This depends on the settling velocity of the particulate in their wash water as well as their available water and land resources. Untreated fines can take months or even years to settle naturally. Whereas the use of flocculants facilitates solids settling rapidly in mere moments. Allowing the wash process to become a closed-circuit system requiring very little makeup water. The solids generated using polymers are also far easier to handle. Polymers are also essential when using thickeners, clarifiers, and belt presses.
Flocculants cause all of the fine suspended material in your dirty water to fall to the bottom of the first pond immediately. This settling will generally happen within 30 feet of the discharge pipe going to the pond. Only clean water will typically leave the first pond; hence you can shut down any additional ponds, reducing your overall water treatment footprint.
The solids are also far more concentrated and compacted and, therefore, easier to move. When you clean the pond with a backhoe, you will get a larger bucket of material with each scoop, and the mud will dry out more quickly than un-flocculated mud.
Flocculants vary in a few key ways, including their molecular weight and the frequency of bond sites. To isolate the top-performing chemistry, a thorough jar test must be performed. Clearwater Industries performs this testing free of charge. Once we have identified the top-performing polymer(s), we provide a private video link showing the chemistry settling out the solids in real-time.
The dry flocculants come in a bead or powder form. They are typically sold in 55-pound bags or 1650 lb big bags or super sacks. The dry flocculants are white and look like powdered laundry detergent. These flocculants are 90+% active and need to be properly activated and aged to reach maximum efficiency. We recommend a solution strength of .1%-.25%.
Liquid polymers are generally polyacrylamide emulsions. These flocculants are preactivated and suspended in a water/oil emulsion. This process is necessary so that the flocculant does not uncoil or break apart before it is needed. The emulsion will not disperse or dissolve when mixed with water. Therefore the manufacturer adds a hydrophilic surfactant (similar to dish soap) that inverts the emulsion. Depending upon a specific application’s variables, Clearwater Industries will recommend whether dry or liquid flocculants are more cost-effective.
Water clarifiers provide far greater control over your water treatment process. They can eliminate the need for settling ponds altogether, distilling the entire water clarification cycle into one highly reliable installation. Clarifiers vastly reduce the footprint required for water clarification and result in sludge with upwards of 65% solids by weight. This discharged material is then moved to its final resting place, eliminating the need for additional handling. Over 90% of the water fed into the clarifier returns to the process for reuse.
Variables that determine the optimal clarifier for a given application include the available footprint, aggregate composition, settling velocity, required chemistry, particle size, and portability. Clearwater Industries prides itself on working with their clients to design solutions tailored to their specific needs. We have manufactured virtually every type of water clarifier, including drag chain clarifiers, radial flow clarifiers, sloped plate clarifiers, and high compaction clarifiers. The systems featured in the equipment section of this site represent the culmination of 20+ years of experience in the field. We look forward to speaking with you to discuss what option is best for your application.
We will perform comprehensive jar testing, isolate the top-performing chemistry, and provide you with actionable information in the form of a private video link of our results.
Learn more about our jar testing here.