Flocculants used in earth sciences
Flocculation(produced by flocculants), in the field of chemistry, is a process by which colloidal particles come out of suspension to sediment under the form of floc or flake, either spontaneously or due to the addition of a clarifying agent. The action differs from precipitation in that, prior to flocculation, colloids are merely suspended, under the form of a stable dispersion, in a liquid and are not truly dissolved in solution.
Coagulation and flocculation are important processes in water treatment with coagulation aimed to destabilize and aggregate particles through chemical interactions between the coagulant and colloids, and flocculation to sediment the destabilized particles by causing their aggregation into floc.
According to the IUPAC definition, flocculation is "a process of contact and adhesion whereby the particles of a dispersion form larger-size clusters". Flocculation is synonymous with agglomeration and coagulation / coalescence.
Basically, coagulation is a process of addition of coagulant to destabilize a stabilized charged particle. Meanwhile, flocculation is a mixing technique that promotes agglomeration and assists in the settling of particles.
During flocculation, gentle mixing accelerates the rate of particle collision, and the destabilized particles are further aggregated and enmeshed into larger precipitates. Flocculation is affected by several parameters, including mixing speeds, mixing intensity, and mixing time. The product of the mixing intensity and mixing time is used to describe flocculation processes.
Civil engineering/earth sciences
In civil engineering, and in the earth sciences, flocculation is a condition in which clays, polymers or other small charged particles become attached and form a fragile structure, a floc. In dispersed clay slurries, flocculation occurs after mechanical agitation ceases and the dispersed clay platelets spontaneously form flocs because of attractions between negative face charges and positive edge charges.
Flocculats have a range of applications in many industry, or some other field you'd never think about it, but in fact you are benefiting from.
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