A hydrocyclone is a static device that applies centrifugal force to a flowing liquid mixture so as to promote the separation of heavy and light components.
The classic hydrocyclone is a closed vessel designed to convert incoming liquid velocity into rotary motion. It does this by directing inflow tangentially near the top of a cylindroconical vessel. This spins the entire contents of the vessel, creating centrifugal force in the liquid. Heavy components move outward toward the wall of the vessel where they agglomerate and spiral down the wall to the outlet at the bottom of the vessel. Light components move toward the axis of the hydrocyclone where they move up toward the overflow outlet at the top of the vessel.
Hydrocyclones are related to centrifuges in that both are intended to separate heavies and lights by application of centrifugal force. The key difference is that hydrocyclones are passive separators capable of applying modest amounts of centrifugal force, whereas centrifuges are dynamic, spinning separators that are generally able to apply much more centrifugal force than hydrocyclones.
Another key difference between hydrocyclones and centrifuges is cost. Centrifuges are expensive precision rotating machines that often need sophisticated control, whereas hydrocyclones have no moving parts and usually no controls at all, so they are lower cost devices.
Hydrocyclones and centrifuges are complementary rather than competing devices. If gravity alone will settle a significant portion of your solids in a minute or two using a quick bottle test, you should investigate hydrocyclone separation. If settling takes much longer than this, then you may need a centrifuge or other separation method.
See the Hydrocyclone separation theory page for more information.
A hydrocyclone is most often used to separate "heavies" from a liquid mixture originating at a centrifugal pump or some other continuous source of pressurized liquid. A hydrocyclone is most likely to be the right choice for processes where "lights" are the greater part of the mixture and where the "heavies" settle fairly easily.
Generally, hydrocyclones are used in continuous flow systems so that the instantaneous liquid inflow to the hydrocyclone is equal to the total instantaneous outflow of "lights" plus "heavies". In cases where "heavies" are a very small part of the whole liquid, it is sometimes advantageous to add a closed receiver (called an accumulator) on the bottom outlet of the hydrocyclone.
ChemIndustrial's modular construction methods make it easy for us to provide accumulation configurations.
In some applications, ChemIndustrial hydrocyclones are capable of sharp separations of "heavies" and "lights". In other situations, they are used for incremental enrichment, reducing the load on other, more costly separation equipment and improving the overall operating economics.
Hydrocyclones are generally not recommended for removing long fibers from liquids.
We are Americans, manufacturing world-class hydrocyclones right here in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, USA. Cedarburg is strategically situated in the Chicago-Milwaukee industrial corridor. This location allows us to access some of the finest machining and fabrication shops in the world. This helps us excel in the design, production and technical support of our modular hydrocyclones and hydrocyclone systems.