So Many Choices. Where to Begin?

Photo credit: Adrian Kingsley-Hughes / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
Photo credit: Adrian Kingsley-Hughes / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Selecting the right type of equipment to use in liquid and solid separation is its own kind of sleuthing.

With such a wide range of equipment available, and only several basic principles of solid/liquid separation (pressure, vacuum and centrifugation), there are many considerations to weigh in determining the best, most cost effective, and efficient choice for a given situation.  But

Making this choice also requires you to be extra careful when working with suppliers who only offer one type of equipment. The solution they offer may be “made” to work, but may not necessarily be the smartest choice.

No matter what, you’re going to need to carry out your own basic evaluations of possible or probable solutions and to establish which routes not to follow.

Where to begin?

There are several factors to consider before determining the best starting point

  • Batch or Continuous Process 
  • Quantity:  Amount of slurry / liquids / solids to be filtered
  • Type of discharge: dry solids, wet solids, or concentrated slurry
  • Operation:  Automatic or manual
  • Product:  solid or liquid or both
  • Review the entire upstream and downstream process:  reactor cycle time, crystal sizing/breakage, solids handling, drying time, and other parameters.

Having gathered all of this information, the engineer is now in a position to get started. Yes, that’s right, get started. But this challenge is part of what makes engineering fun every day, right?

Elementary, My Dear Process Engineers!

Back in 2013, I encountered an article on Maria Konnikova’s book Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes. Businessweek had it in their MasterClass section in which they scan the book so we “don’t have to.” Yet I was intrigued enough to want to read the entire book (and you should too).

Solid-liquid filtration may not have the glamor of investigating blackmail and burglary, extortion and espionage or murder and mayhem, yet I was struck by the similarities between process engineers and Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. I spoke and published on my idea that mindfulness, astute observation, logical deduction are among the attributes we share.

Cover image from Elsevier.com
Cover image from Elsevier.com

In my newly released practical guide to Solid-Liquid Filtration, I argue process engineers, as do Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson:

  • Know there is no benefit to jumping to conclusions.
  • Benefit from working with others to recreate events.
  • Apply problem-solving skills such as occasional silence, employing distancing and learning to discern the crucial from the incidental.

Since most university curricula don’t cover solid-liquid filtration, many engineers are left clueless as to where or how to begin. With this blog, I’ll be drawing on my over 30 years in the industry, to help provide engineers with a framework to analyze and think about process filtration problems. I’ll also be sharing my thoughts on other interesting reads and my experiences working with BHS Filtration and our European counterpart BHS-Sonthofen GmbH I’ll be focusing on the accurate and unbiased facts — just as Sherlock himself would want me to do!

Image courtesy of: http://www.sherlock-holmes.co.uk/pr/