Particle clogging in porous media – Filtration of a smektite solution
The goal of this project is to find out if it is possible for bentonite clay to self heal during leaching with deionized water. The investigation has focused on the formation of a filter cake made of accessory material from MX 80 and the separation of solid material when a smectite solution (1%) is pushed through the cake using a pressure difference of 5 bar. It was also in the scope of this project to design and build the necessary equipment for these experiments.
In the literature review it was not found any example that the phenomenon of clogging has been used as a self-healing method previously. It was rather separated also between the clogging of a filter cake (deep bed filtration or cake filtration) and the filtration of colloidal particles. Probably because the latter are in such low concentrations in natural systems and the focus have mainly been in the transport properties of colloids within a filter cake or deep bed filter.
An experimental equipment was designed and built. It consists of seven filtration cells that could operate in parallel. All of them are connected to the same source of pressure to ensure equal conditions. A system was also prepared to prevent air from dissolve in the solution because it could create an unwanted expansion in the filter cake due to lower solubility at lower pressure.
The experiment showed good separation of smectite particles from the solution when it passed through the filter cake. In all tested cases, the separation was almost complete after long enough time, indicating that the cake has small enough pores to act as a geometrical hinder for the small particles. Comparison between the materials prepared at Chalmers University of Technology and at Clay Technology showed a very good agreement indicating similar properties of the produced smectite.