A hydrocyclone has two exits on the axis: the smaller on the bottom (underflow or reject) and a larger at the top (overflow or accept). The underflow is generally the denser or coarser fraction, while the overflow is the lighter or finer fraction.
Internally, inertia is countered by the resistance of the liquid, with the effect that larger or denser particles are transported to the wall for eventual exit at the reject side with a limited amount of liquid, while the finer, or less dense particles, remain in the liquid and exit at the overflow side through a tube extending slightly into the body of the cyclone at the center.
Forward hydrocyclones removing particles that are denser than the surrounding fluid, while reverse hydrocyclones remove particles that are less dense than the surrounding fluid. In a reverse hydrocyclone the overflow is at the apex and the underflow at the base. There are also parallel-flow hydrocyclones where both the accept and reject are removed at the apex. Parallel-flow hydrocyclones remove particles that are lighter than the surrounding fluid.
Hydrocyclones can be made of metal (mostly steel, high-chromium iron), ceramic or plastic (such as polyurethane, polypropylene, or other types). Metal or ceramic hydrocyclones are used for situations requiring more strength, or durability in terms of heat or pressure. When there is an occurrence of much abrasion (such as occurs with sand particles) polyurethane performs better than metals or ceramics. Metal lined with polyurethane is used in cases of combined abrasion and high pressure.
In a suspension of particles with the same density, a relatively sharp cut can be made. The size at which the particles separate is a function of cyclone diameter, exit dimensions, feed pressure and the relative characteristics of the particles and the liquid. Efficiency of separation is a function of the solids' concentration: the higher the concentration, the lower the efficiency of separation. There is also a significant difference in suspension density between the base exit (fines) and the apex exit, where there is little liquid flow.
If the size range of the particles is limited, but there are differences in density between types of particles, the denser particles will exit preferentially at the apex. The device is therefore a means of selective concentration of, for example, minerals.
This device is also related to the centrifuge; both of them are intended to separate heavies and lights in liquid by application of centrifugal force.
Design Equations of hydrocyclone
For a Bradley Hydrocyclone the dimensions of each part are always in the same proportions. The pressure drop should be between 20 psi and 60 psi.
Di is the inlet diameter
Do is the overflow diameter
Du is the underflow diameter
Dc is the chamber diameter
L is the height of the hydrocyclone
Le is the length of the outlet tube
Theta is the angle at the base of the hydrocyclone
Di/Dc = 0.244
Do/Dc = 0.313
Du/Dc = 0.2
L/Dc = 3.9
Le/Dc = 0.833
Theta = 20 degrees
Hydrocyclones are major components in mud desander, desilter and drilling mud cleaner and assist most of their works. A hydrocyclone has a upper casing, a lower casing, a underflow mouth as well as auxiliary parts. The upper casing is an inlet chamber in cylindric with an inlet pipe on one side and a vortex tube in top middle as the overflow. The lower casing is a cone whose angle ranges from 15°~20° at the tip. The underflow mouth is located at the bottom as the discharge port for solids.