Abstract

In this study, Couette flow experiments were performed to estimate the temporal evolution of the 2D and perimeter-based fractal dimension values of kaolinite flocs during flocculation. The fractal dimensions were calculated based on the projected surface area, perimeter length and length of the longest axis of the flocs as determined by sampling observation and an image-processing system. The 2D fractal dimension, which relates the longest axis length and projected surface area of flocs, was found to decrease with the flocculation time, corresponding to the production of some porous flocs from the flow shear. This fractal dimension finally reached a steady state, which resulted from a dynamic equilibrium among the floc growth, floc breakage and floc restructuring. The perimeter-based fractal dimension, which characterizes the relationship between the projected surface area and the perimeter of flocs, increases with flocculation time because the flow shear increases the collisions among the primary particles, and some irregular flocs are formed. The perimeter-based fractal dimension reaches a steady level because of the balance among floc aggregation, breakage and restructuring. In addition, a stronger turbulent flow shear makes the steady state of fractal dimensions occur early during flocculation.

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