Definition - What does Flocculation mean?

Flocculation is a process in chemistry wherein colloids are extracted from suspensions which then take the form of flake or floc. This can take place spontaneously or may be brought about by adding clarifying agents.

This process is different from precipitation in the sense that before flocculation, colloids are simply suspended within the liquid and not dissolved within the solution. In a system that promotes flocculation, there is no cake formation because all flocs are suspended.

Flocculation is used for water purification, and can even be used to extract certain corrosive elements from water.

Flocculation is also known as coagulation and agglomeration.

Corrosionpedia explains Flocculation

Flocculation is a process of adhesion and contact where dispersion particles form bigger clusters.

Throughout the process, slight mixing hastens the particle collision rate, resulting in elevated aggregation of destabilized particles. This leads to the particles being enmeshed to bigger particles. It is affected by various parameters, including:

  • Mixing time
  • Mixing intensity
  • Mixing speed

The end result of the mixing time and mixing intensity is utilized to define the process of flocculation.

Flocculation can be applied in many ways, such as in water treatment. This process is widely implemented in sewage treatment as well as drinking water purification. It is also employed in treatment of storm water and industrial wastewater, preventing and treating water corrosion.

It is highly beneficial in the field of physical chemistry, specifically for emulsions since it is the primary step resulting in further emulsion aging. While its contribution to earth sciences and civil engineering is immense as well, as it is the process where polymers, clays and other tiny charged particles build fragile structures called floc. The process typically takes place after the mechanical agitation has ended. This is the point where clay platelets that are dispersed create flocs due to the attraction between positive and negative edge charges.

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