Water science and technology : a journal of the International Association on Water Pollution Research

Effects of surfactant on bubble hydrodynamic behavior under flotation-related conditions in wastewater.

PMID 22378003


Bubble behavior is fundamental to the performance of froth flotation operations used in wastewater treatment processes. To fully understand and characterize bubble behavior under flotation-related conditions in wastewater, the high-speed photographic method has been employed to examine the motion of single bubbles and size distribution of bubble swarms with intermediate sizes ranging from 1 to 4 mm in the presence of surfactants in a laboratory scale flotation column. Both distilled water and synthetic municipal wastewater have been used to make solutions as well as two types of common surfactants. The instantaneous bubble motion has been recorded by a high speed camera. Subsequently, bubble trajectory, dimensions, velocity and distribution have been determined from the recorded frames using the image analysis software. The experimental results show that the addition of surfactant into wastewater has similar effects on bubble hydrodynamic behavior as in pure water (e.g., improving trajectory stabilization, dampening bubble deformation, slowing down terminal velocity, reducing bubble size and increasing the specific surface area of bubble swarm) due to the Marangoni effect. However, it is interesting to note that surfactant effects on single bubble hydrodynamics in wastewater are slightly stronger than those in pure water while surfactant effects on size parameters of bubble swarms in wastewater are significantly stronger than those in pure water. This finding suggests that besides surfactant, inorganic salts present in synthetic wastewater have an important influence on bubble dispersion.