Velocity Gradient Optimization in a Perforated Tray-Type Flocculator using OpenFOAM: CFD as a Tool in Water Treatment

Document Type : Regular Article


1 Department of Water Resources and Sanitation, Lavras Federal University, Postal Code 3037, Campus Universitario, Lavras, Brazil

2 Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, Lavras Federal University, Postal Code 3037, Campus Universitario, Lavras, Brazil



Analysis of the velocity gradient of flocculators through Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulation can be essential to the optimization of hydraulic conditions in Water Treatment Plants. This study aims to simulate the velocity field in the last tank of a perforated tray-type flocculator and quantify locally velocity gradient (G) through CFD. This stage of flocculation has a higher risk of flocs rupture when there are not adequate conditions. Thus, simulations occurred at the flocculator current operational flow rate (7 ls-1), and at full capacity (9 ls-1). An alternative cost-effective and easy to implement modification was tested by increasing the number of orifices in the flocculator trays. As result, the velocity field indicates the formation of dead zones at the edges of the tank for all simulations, which facilitates short circuit occurrences. This is an indicator of reductions in water treatment efficiency. After structural modifications, simulations indicate a reduction in dead zone areas. Plus, as the flow rate increases, the maximum G inside the structure increases considerably (184 to 266 s-1), causing a risk for floc rupture. However, changing the number of orifices from 22 to 33 creates conditions for the flocculator to operate at higher flow rates without increasing the velocity gradient.


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Volume 15, Issue 2 - Serial Number 63
March and April 2022
Pages 387-397
  • Received: 14 November 2020
  • Revised: 16 August 2021
  • Accepted: 20 September 2021
  • First Publish Date: 30 January 2022