The Bureau of Mines has developed a method of dewatering clay slurries based on flocculation by high-molecular-weight polymers and water removal from the formed flocs using a trommel or hydrosieve. The exchange ion on the clays affects their dewaterability. Metal ions in solution and on the exchange sites of smectite clays are known to act as Lewis acids. Recent work has determined that these ions can be titrated with high-molecular-weight polymers. The relative acidity of the exchange ion and the basicity of the polymer determined by the new method give insight into the dewatering mechanism.
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