The first thing we are going to do is discover the etymological origin of the term decanting that concerns us. In this case, we can state that it derives from Latin, exactly from “decantatio, decantationis” and that it is formed from the sum of two clearly defined components: the Latin prefix “de-” and the word “cantus”.
The concept refers to the act and result of decanting : achieving the separation of substances that have different densities and are in a liquid medium.
Decantation therefore involves dissociating a solid from a liquid, or a more dense fluid from another liquid with less density. This means that there is solid-liquid decantation (if a solid is in a liquid) and liquid-liquid decantation (when there are two immiscible fluids with different densities).
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To separate a solid from a liquid by decantation, it is first necessary for the mixture to settle and thus sedimentation of the solid occurs. This process causes the solid to accumulate in the lower sector of the mixture and can be extracted by means of gravity.
In the case of two liquids, a container known as a separatory funnel is usually employed. This device has an opening in its upper sector, through which liquids can be introduced. At the bottom, it has a stopcock or faucet to extract the content in a controlled manner. When the liquids introduced have different densities, the fluid with the highest density is located in the lower sector of the separating funnel: in this way, it can be separated from the other liquid by opening the tap and then closing it before the second substance begins to fall.
An example of decantation through this type of funnel can be carried out with water and oil. Due to the density, the water will accumulate at the bottom, facilitating the separation of the two substances.
In many processes of various kinds, so-called decantation is used. However, in one of the most necessary and important is in the purification of water, either at a more domestic level or on a small scale or at another more general or even industrial level.
At smaller levels, the so-called separating funnel or separating funnel will be used, while on a large scale, sewage treatment plants will be used. Thanks to these, what is achieved is to clarify the water by up to 80%, making it absolutely free of what is waste that can put the health of citizens at serious risk.
It is also interesting to know that, when it comes to making the water drinkable, it is decided to use what are settling ponds that are made up of several parts such as the reassuring bell or the perimeter dump. Ponds those that exist of different types, although among the most significant are those with sludge blankets, those with pulsating sludge blankets, those with dynamic separation or the so-called simple agitation decanters.