Definition - What does Flocculate mean?

Flocculate is the process of a substance forming in to small clumps or masses wherein they take the form of flake or floc. This can take place spontaneously or may be brought about by adding clarifying agents. This process is different from precipitation in the sense that before flocculation, colloids are simply suspended within the liquid and not dissolved within the solution. In a system that promotes flocculation, there is no cake formation because all flocs are suspended.

Petropedia explains Flocculate

When flocculation takes place, slight mixing hastens the particle collision rate resulting in elevated aggregation of destabilized particles. This leads to the particles being enmeshed to bigger particles. The process is affected by various parameters such as mixing time, mixing intensity and mixing speed. The end result of the mixing time and mixing intensity is utilized to define the process of flocculation.

Flocculation is mainly used in water treatment, i.e., sewage treatment as well as drinking water purification. It is also used to treat storm water, industrial wastewater and prevent water corrosion. It is highly beneficial in the field of physical chemistry, specifically for emulsions since it is the primary step resulting in further emulsion aging. It is also the process whereby polymers, clay and other tiny charged particles build fragile structures called flocs. The process typically takes place after the mechanical agitation has ended. This is the point where clay platelets that are dispersed create flocs due to the attraction between positive and negative charges.

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