Aquatic environment

Investigation of the hydrodynamic behavior of diatom aggregates using particle image velocimetry

Feng Xiao , Xiaoyan Li , Kitming Lam , Dongsheng Wang


Received October 13, 2011,Revised December 05, 2011, Accepted , Available online July 08, 2012

Volume 24,2012,Pages 1157-1164

The hydrodynamic behavior of diatom aggregates has a significant influence on the interactions and flocculation kinetics of algae. However, characterization of the hydrodynamics of diatoms and diatom aggregates in water is rather difficult. In this laboratory study, an advanced visualization technique in particle image velocimetry (PIV) was employed to investigate the hydrodynamic properties of settling diatom aggregates. The experiments were conducted in a settling column filled with a suspension of fluorescent polymeric beads as seed tracers. A laser light sheet was generated by the PIV setup to illuminate a thin vertical planar region in the settling column, while the motions of particles were recorded by a high speed charge-coupled device (CCD) camera. This technique was able to capture the trajectories of the tracers when a diatom aggregate settled through the tracer suspension. The PIV results indicated directly the curvilinear feature of the streamlines around diatom aggregates. The rectilinear collision model largely overestimated the collision areas of the settling particles. Algae aggregates appeared to be highly porous and fractal, which allowed streamlines to penetrate into the aggregate interior. The diatom aggregates have a fluid collection efficiency of 10%-40%. The permeable feature of aggregates can significantly enhance the collisions and flocculation between the aggregates and other small particles including algal cells in water.

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