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Water 2015, 7(8), 4385-4408; doi:10.3390/w7084385

Fractal Dimension of Cohesive Sediment Flocs at Steady State under Seven Shear Flow Conditions

1
College of Water Sciences, Beijing Normal University, Xinjiekouwai Street 19, Beijing 100875, China
2
Department of Natural Environmental Studies, The University of Tokyo, Kashiwa 277-8568, Japan
3
Environmental Science Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Lemont, IL 60439, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Y. Jun Xu
Received: 11 May 2015 / Revised: 4 August 2015 / Accepted: 5 August 2015 / Published: 12 August 2015
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Abstract

The morphological properties of kaolin flocs were investigated in a Couette-flow experiment at the steady state under seven shear flow conditions (shear rates of 5.36, 9.17, 14, 24, 31, 41 and 53 s−1). These properties include a one-dimensional (1-D) fractal dimension (D1), a two-dimensional (2-D) fractal dimension (D2), a perimeter-based fractal dimension (Dpf) and an aspect ratio (AR). They were calculated based on the projected area (A), equivalent size, perimeter (P) and length (L) of the major axis of the floc determined through sample observation and an image analysis system. The parameter D2, which characterizes the relationship between the projected area and the length of the major axis using a power function, , increased from 1.73 ± 0.03, 1.72 ± 0.03, and 1.75 ± 0.04 in the low shear rate group (G = 5.36, 9.17, and 14 s−1) to 1.92 ± 0.03, 1.82 ± 0.02, 1.85 ± 0.02, and 1.81 ± 0.02 in the high shear rate group (24, 31, 41 and 53 s−1), respectively. The parameter D1 characterizes the relationship between the perimeter and length of the major axis by the function and decreased from 1.52 ± 0.02, 1.48 ± 0.02, 1.55 ± 0.02, and 1.63 ± 0.02 in the low shear group (5.36, 9.17, 14 and 24 s−1) to 1.45 ± 0.02, 1.39 ± 0.02, and 1.39 ± 0.02 in the high shear group (31, 41 and 53 s−1), respectively. The results indicate that with increasing shear rates, the flocs become less elongated and that their boundary lines become tighter and more regular, caused by more breakages and possible restructurings of the flocs. The parameter Dpf, which is related to the perimeter and the projected area through the function , decreased as the shear rate increased almost linearly. The parameter AR, which is the ratio of the length of the major axis and equivalent diameter, decreased from 1.56, 1.59, 1.53 and 1.51 in the low shear rate group to 1.43, 1.47 and 1.48 in the high shear rate group. These changes in Dpf and AR show that the flocs become less convoluted and more symmetrical and that their boundaries become smoother and more regular in the high shear rate group than in the low shear rate group due to breakage and possible restructuring processes. To assess the effects of electrolyte and sediment concentration, 0.1 mol/L calcium chloride (CaCl2) and initial sediment concentration from 7.87 × 10−5 to 1.57 × 10−5 were used in this preliminary study. The addition of electrolyte and increasing sediment concentration could produce more symmetrical flocs with less convoluted and simpler boundaries. In addition, some new information on the temporal variation of the median size of the flocs during the flocculation process is presented. View Full-Text
Keywords: flocculation; fractal dimension; cohesive sediment; steady state; shear flow flocculation; fractal dimension; cohesive sediment; steady state; shear flow
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Zhu, Z.; Yu, J.; Wang, H.; Dou, J.; Wang, C. Fractal Dimension of Cohesive Sediment Flocs at Steady State under Seven Shear Flow Conditions. Water 2015, 7, 4385-4408.

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