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Hydroclone Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Hydroclone?

A hydroclone is a static device that applies centrifugal force to a flowing liquid mixture so as to promote the separation of heavy and light components.

The classic hydroclone is a closed vessel designed to convert incoming liquid velocity into rotary motion. It does this by directing inflow tangentially near the top of a cylindroconical vessel. This spins the entire contents of the vessel, creating centrifugal force in the liquid. Heavy components move outward toward the wall of the vessel where they agglomerate and spiral down the wall to the outlet at the bottom of the vessel. Light components move toward the axis of the hydroclone where they move up toward the overflow outlet at the top of the vessel.

Hydroclones are related to centrifuges in that both are intended to separate heavies and lights by application of centrifugal force. The key difference is that hydroclones are passive separators capable of applying modest amounts of centrifugal force, whereas centrifuges are dynamic, spinning separators that are generally able to apply much more centrifugal force than hydroclones.

Another key difference between hydroclones and centrifuges is cost. Centrifuges are expensive precision rotating machines that often need sophisticated control, whereas hydroclones have no moving parts and usually no controls at all, so they are lower cost devices.

Hydroclones and centrifuges are complementary rather than competing devices. If gravity alone will settle a significant portion of your solids in a minute or two using a quick bottle test, you should investigate hydroclone separation. If settling takes much longer than this, then you may need a centrifuge or other separation method.

See the Hydroclone separation theory page for more information.

What are the uses and limitations of Hydroclones?

A hydroclone is most often used to separate “heavies” from a liquid mixture originating at a centrifugal pump or some other continuous source of pressurized liquid. A hydroclone is most likely to be the right choice for processes where “lights” are the greater part of the mixture and where the “heavies” settle fairly easily.

Generally, hydroclones are used in continuous flow systems so that the instantaneous liquid inflow to the hydroclone is equal to the total instantaneous outflow of “lights” plus “heavies”. In cases where “heavies” are a very small part of the whole liquid, it is sometimes advantageous to add a closed receiver (called an accumulator) on the bottom outlet of the hydroclone.

ChemIndustrial’s modular construction methods make it easy for us to provide accumulation configurations.

In some applications, ChemIndustrial hydroclones are capable of sharp separations of “heavies” and “lights”. In other situations, they are used for incremental enrichment, reducing the load on other, more costly separation equipment and improving the overall operating economics.

Hydroclones are generally not recommended for removing long fibers from liquids.

Where are ChemIndustrial's hydroclones made?

We are Americans, manufacturing world-class hydroclones right here in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, USA. Cedarburg is strategically situated in the Chicago-Milwaukee industrial corridor. This location allows us to access some of the finest machining and fabrication shops in the world. This helps us excel in the design, production and technical support of our modular hydroclones and hydroclone systems.


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