Reliable information about the micro-processes during filtration and dewatering of filter cakes allows more accurate statements about process development and design in any industrial application with solid-liquid separation units. Distributed particle properties such as shape, size, and material influence the porous network structure with considerable local fluctuations in vertical and horizontal alignment in the cake forming apparatus. The present work relates to a wide range of particle sizes and particle shapes and presents their effects on integral, but preferably local, structural parameters of cake-forming filtration. Current models for the relationship between particle properties and resulting porous structure remain inaccurate. Therefore, the central question focus on the model-based correlation between the obtained data and characteristic cake and process parameters. In combination with X-ray computed tomography and microscopy (ZEISS Xradia 510), data acquisition on the structural build-up of filter cakes is possible on a small scale (filter area 0.2 cm²) and a conventional laboratory scale (filter area 20 cm², VDI 2762 pressure nutsch). Thereby, the work focuses on structural parameters at the local level before, during, and after cake dewatering, such as porosity, coordination number, three-phase contact angle, characteristics of pores and isolated liquid regions, the liquid load of individual particles, tortuosity, and capillary length, and the corresponding spatial distributions. Seven different particle systems in the range of 20 and 500 µm, suspended in aqueous solutions with additives for contrast enhancement, served as the initial raw materials for the filter cake build-up. Image data processing from 16-bit greyscale images with a resolution of 2 to 4 µm/voxel edge length includes various operations from denoising filters and shape enhancement with two-stage segmentation to identify air, solid particles, and liquid phase, resulting in a machine learning-based automated approach. Subsequent modeling and correlation of measured parameters rely on experimentally verified quantities from mercury porosimetry, laser diffraction, dynamic image analysis, static and dynamic droplet contour analysis, as well as filtration and capillary pressure tests according to VDI guidelines. The tomography measurements provide microscopic information about the porous system, quantified using characteristic key parameters and distribution functions.

This project is open access and publicly accessible.


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