Abstract

Fluidized granulation is one of the common methods used in wastewater treatment and resource recovery with harvesting millimeter-scale large particles. Presently, effective methods are lacking to measure the fluidized granules ranging from micro- to millimeter scales, with the consequence of ineffectively controlling and optimizing the granulation process. In this work, recovering struvite (MgNH4PO4·6H2O) from swine wastewater by using a fluidized bed was taken as an example. Image processing was applied to analyze the properties of different types of struvite granules, including morphology, particle size distribution, number density and mass concentration. Four stages of the struvite crystal evolution were therefore defined: aggregation, aggregate compaction, cluster-agglomerating and coating growth. These stages could occur simultaneously or sequentially. Up-flow rates of 30–80 mm/s in the fluidized bed sustained 600–876 g/L granular solids. Results revealed that the coating-growth granules were formed with compact aggregates or cluster-agglomerating granules as the nuclei. The growth rates for the different types of particles, including population growth, mass increase and particle size enlargement, were determined. In final, a schematic illustration for struvite granulation process is also presented.

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