In flocculation of dilute suspensions a period of slow mixing is necessary to increase the probability of particle collisions that are necessary for flocculation to occur. When flocculating sludges, the collision frequency is so high that flocs are formed immediately after rapid mixing. However, controlled mixing of the flocculated sludge for some time period does improve dewaterability. The mechanisms that are involved have been studied in detail and the subject of this paper. The results show that after rapid mixing and initial floc formation there might still be polymer in solution, depending on polymer dose. Prolonged mixing results in breakage of large aggregates and in particle/floc surfaces that are not yet covered with polymers. Subsequently the excess polymer adsorbs onto these surfaces. From changes in sludge rheology one can see that within a period of about one half to one minute the bulk properties change dramatically. After the initial floc formation the suspension is in a state characterized by a three-dimensional network structure with strongly interacting, voluminous flocs. After the mixing period there are more discrete and less interacting flocs. Especially the properties of the filter cake from pressure filtration are then more favorable.
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