How Primary Clarifiers Work


How Primary Clarifiers Work
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This section explains what a circular primary clarifier is and how it works.

Primary clarifiers are used to complete the process of sedimentation. Sedimentation is the process of separating suspended solids from a liquid. Separation without mechanical means can be completed within a sedimentation basin or settling tank, separation using mechanical means is completed using a clarifier.

Clarifiers are used in many water treatment facilities, as well as in the mining, paper and pulp, and sanitation industries. Clarifiers can be of the rectangular, sloped or circular design.

The purpose of the clarifier is to reduce the velocity of the influent in order to allow the suspended solids to separate from the liquid. Heavy solids are referred to as settleable solids and these accumulate on the bottom of the clarifier to form sludge. Lighter solids are referred to as floatable solids and these accumulate on the liquid surface to form scum.

Clarifiers have found widespread application because they are very effective and offer a good return on investment compared to other alternatives. A typical primary clarifier will separate between 90-95% of settleable solids from the liquid and 40-60% of suspended solids.

How It Works
Influent enters through the central pipe and is discharged to the centre of the clarifier. The influent velocity is reduced and settling occurs due to gravity. Heavier solids form sludge and are removed using rakes/ploughs. Lighter solids float on the top of the liquid and are removed by a scum skimmer. The cleaned liquid passes through a weir and into the effluent launder. The effluent is then extracted for direct discharge or further treatment.


You can read more about primary clarifiers in our technical encyclopaedia:

Primary Clarifier

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