Rheological Properties of Clay Suspensions Treated by Hydrocyclone Process
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J. Nanofluids 2018, Vol. 7, No. 2
SponsorshipThis study was supported by project FIS2013-41821-R (Plan Nacional de Investigación Científica, Desarrollo e Innovación Tecnológica, Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, Spain, co-funded by ERDF, European Union). Mariem Mekni Abrougui acknowledges financial support from Tunisian Goverment (fellowship program) and UE (Erasmus program) for her stays in the University of Granada.
Suspensions of bentonite clays are usually employed at industrial scale in different processes as drilling fluids as well as adsorbents for removing pollutants in muds or natural waters. For these purposes, avoiding the gravitational settling of the particles is a requirement for achieving a high efficiency and a low cost operation. Unfortunately, the clays in natural deposits are usually mixed with particles of other minerals with similar density, making difficult the separation process by usual gravitational methods. Among the most efficient and lowest cost processes, the separation by hydrocyclone is preferred because of a number of advantages at the industrial scale. In this work we verify, by different experimental methods, the efficiency of this wet separation process for removing impurities in a raw bentonite mineral, and at the same time to transform a calcium bentonite in a sodium one by dissolving sodium carbonate in the liquid phase of the hidrocyclone. Afterwards, we checked by using rheological measurements the best protocol for the preparation of the suspension. We studied the rheological behaviour of clay suspensions, with different degree of impurities removal and with different solid concentration, in order to determine the minimal conditions for obtaining bentonite suspensions that do not suffer from gravitational settling during a long period of time. For this purpose, we investigated the deformation and flow of different suspensions, under steady state and oscillatory shear, and determined when they developed a high enough yield stress and an appropriate elastic response to avoid particle settling. We explain the results in view of the energy of interaction between the different surfaces (faces, edges) of the clay platelets, which favours the formation of a soft gel in which the particles are entrapped in loose flocculi that extent along all the volume of the suspensions.