Effect of Volume Fraction of Material on Separation by Density Difference in a Liquid-Fluidized Bed of Inert Particles



A liquid-fluidized bed was used to separate a pure material from a mixture. A quantity of relatively large sized material was immersed in an inert-particle fluidized bed and the behavior of materials was examined for different liquid velocities. In particular, the volume fraction of the material was varied and its effect on the separation characteristics was examined.

The material floats on the inert-particle fluidized bed when the density of the material is lower than the apparent density of the bed, regardless of the volume fraction of the material. The apparent density of the bed can be adjusted by changing the liquid velocity. The materials in the upper portion of the bed affect the properties of the bed below them, i.e., the void fraction decreases and the apparent density increases in the inert-particle suspension when materials are present in the upper portion of the bed. Therefore, the materials float on the bed although the apparent density of the inert-particle suspension obtained from the case without material is less than the density of the material at a relatively high volume fraction of material. This phenomenon occurs more easily for lighter and smaller materials. This means that small inert particles and low liquid velocities are the optimum operating conditions for the separation.