Hydrocyclone is an equipment used to generate a centrifugal force through the aid of fluid pressure in order to separate particles from water.
Fluid carries the suspended particles, enters the hydrocyclone tangentially, spirals downward and produces a centrifugal field in free vortex flow. Larger particles then move to the outside of the hydrocyclone in a spiral motion and due to the fraction, the liquid goes out through the spigot. Due to the limited area of the spigot, an inner vortex, rotating in the same direction as the outer vortex but flowing upward, is established and leaves the hydrocyclone through the vortex finder, carrying most of the liquid and finer particles with it.
We were not actually targeting the hydrocyclone on its own; we were searching for a method in order to separate the water solution from the yeast. We came across the Filtration, Sifting and Evaporation, yet those methods were not going to achieve the desired results as the yeast is a micro particle and all of these methods are typically used for the large ones.
The hydrocyclone is nonetheless used in the industrial field on a large scale; as it can separate heavy coarse granular mud and sand as well as classify, concentrate, dehydrate, desliming, washing, and superfine classification. We, therefore, realized that this is a good option for us to use. Besides, we observed that there was a team on IGEM 2017 called Exeter that had used it in the separation of sand from water.
While we were searching for the method, we found a paper that discusses separating the yeast from alcohol and we used it as a reference. The paper was focused more on the theoretical part, going through the pressure drop and what are the factors that affect the efficiency of the hydrocyclone and one of the important factors was the dimensions. The dimension that was mentioned in the paper was on a surprisingly small scale, and the 3D printer was not capable to work with as the nozzle required a specific dimension in order to start the printing.
The design was made using a 3D printer. Fab Lab was the one that helped us print it and they were truly helpful; advising us to search for a model that was designed before and how to use it. We found the model and modified. It was however not a suitable option for us so we made our own model.
Credit goes to Eng. Menna Samy and Eng. Abdelrahman Mahmoud as they created a whole new model using Solidworks when we could not modify the thickness of the file. We started the printing then used the epoxy in order to glue the two parts together.
Our main concern was to make the hydrocyclone with a water proof material so we chose Filament material: PLA+.
We had faced many obstacles when choosing the separation way. First, we were searching for a way to separate the water from its component and to find ways that can work with large particles. Indeed, our challenge was finding a method to separate microparticles. We found that the hydrocyclone is used in the separation of the water from the large particles but there were papers that used it to separate alcohol from yeasts.
We started to search for the dimensions that we will use as the dimensions on the paper were extremely small. In addition to the dimensions, none of us had used the fusion program before, so we started to search for a model for the hydrocyclones. We thankfully found one and when we went to FAB Lab in order to start the printing, there was an issue as the hydrocyclone would not be printed as a one-part, it needed to be printed as two separate parts and then we can glue them together. They also gave us a file that was used to print as two parts. When we worked on that file, we found that it was not efficient to use because the thickness was not correct and the printer was not able to print it.