Nanoflotation Systems

A.H. Lundberg and David Bromley Engineering are working together to commercialize a unique technology called Nanoflotation, which can cost-effectively separate colloidal solids from fluids.

Nanoflotation Technology Overview

The DBE Nanoflotation technology is an innovative approach to managing the nano-environment around colloidal solids. Most colloidal solids will not readily separate from water because of the electric double layer (EDL) around colloids. The EDL causes the colloids to remain in suspension, repelling each other. DBE’s Nanoflotation technology changes the environment around a colloidal solid for a very short time period, causing the EDL to collapse. Solids for this moment in time separate from the fluid medium and attach to other solids or mediums because of van der Waal forces which overcome the diminished repulsive forces of the EDL. This concept has been attempted in the past by changing the quality of the water in which the solids are exposed. A typical method to cause the EDL to collapse is to add NaCl to water. The problem with this approach is that water quality becomes an issue that needs to be managed. The DBE Nanoflotation technology does not change the quality of the water to separate the solids. This technology greatly improves treatment of a wide variation of suspended solids, colloidal solids and nano particle concentrations. In addition, it provides good reductions in scaling parameters like silica, barium, calcium, magnesium and manganese, as well as organic reduction in wastewater sourced from industrial or municipal applications. At the present time the technology has been applied to two very common methods of water treatment; flotation treatment and low pressure membrane treatment.

Flotation Treatment Systems

The application of the Nanoflotation technology is through the use of a surfactant and a “patent pending” high intensity mixing system. The high intensity mixing is caused by the froth generated from the use of the surfactant. The fluid containing the solids passes through a high intensity mixing zone which is also an ionically charged concentrated zone due to the surfactant that has attached to the air bubbles in the froth. This ionically charged environment causes the collapse of the EDL, and the solids attach to the bubble in the froth where they float to the surface of a flotation chamber. Both the froth mixing technology and the use of the high ionically charged environment have been piloted and demonstrated with exceptional success on very difficult waters such as oil sands tailing pond waters, cooling water, landfill leachate, and refinery oily process waters.

Low Pressure Membrane Systems (e.g. ultrafiltration)

The patented membrane powder skin layer technology eliminates the problem of membrane fouling and instead encourages membrane fouling on a replaceable membrane skin layer (RSL) that is formed using a highly charged powder. The layers RSL powder media provides two environments: firstly, there is repulsion of the colloidal solids from the surface of the RSL. The EDL on the powder media at the surface of the replaceable skin layer (RSL) cause an EDL repulsion of the colloidal solids approaching the skin layer. This repulsion stops a layering or caking of the solids on the surface of the powder skin layer. In typical membrane systems, a cross flow is used to stop the caking or layering of solids on the membrane skin layer. Cross flows are very energy intensive. However the reverse situation occurs once the solids enter the RSL media and move past the surface of the skin layer. The colloids eventually penetrate the RSL layer because of the pressure differential (TMP) across the RSL At this point the second environment becomes dominant. The concentrated ionically charged environment from the powder media of the RSL collapses the EDL and van der Waal forces become dominant. The colloids in the water attach to the RSL powder media or other solids due to van der Waal forces. The colloid solids are trapped within the skin layer powder layer. In the Nanoflotation Technology, the membrane skin layer is replaced in situ during a standard backwash cycle which lasts less than two minutes. A new powder media is added after backwash to create a new RSL.

System Benefits

The economic value of the technology is in its ability to treat water to ultrafiltration standards (e.g. 0.01 micron filtration) at lower capital and operating costs while improving reliability and ease of use.
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