Coagulation in Wastewater Treatment has been used to clarify water since ancient times – as early as 2000BC, when the Egyptians used almonds to clarify river water. There is also evidence to suggest that the Romans were using alum as a coagulant at around 77AD. Today, coagulation and flocculation are still essential components of treatment processes, e.g. for reducing water turbidity. Wastewater treatment operations also require coagulation for chemical phosphorus removal and for reducing suspended solids.
Coagulation plays a vital role in the wastewater treatment process, allowing for solids removal and dewatering, water clarification, lime softening, and sludge thickening. With the help of other specialized chemicals and mechanical filtration methods, coagulants help companies maintain a consistent and reliable source of clean water to support their industrial processes.
With the help of other specialized chemicals and mechanical filtration methods, coagulants help companies maintain a consistent and reliable source of clean water to support their industrial processes. Rather than having to pay another company for costly water treatment, coagulants enable efficient, on-site water treatment, providing:
Coagulation is a somewhat simple chemical process that involves bringing insoluble materials together by manipulating the charges of particles, by adding iron or aluminum salts, such as aluminum sulfate or ferric sulfate, to a wastewater stream. The primary purpose of using a coagulant besides removing vary fine particles from suspension is that this process results also in less turbidity of the water, i.e. clearer water.
With coagulants’ positive charge, the negatively charged particles in the water are neutralized. This causes the suspended solids in the water to bind together into larger flocs. These larger flocs begin to settle at the base of the water supply. The larger the size of the particles, the quicker the floc settles.
Coagulation helps to remove a number of different pollutants that cause your water to become dirty or toxic, including:
Through coagulation, industrial water supplies are put into the perfect chemical state for easy mechanical filtration. Once the flocs settle at the bottom of your clarifier, equipment like a filter press can then take those larger clumps of aggregated particles and remove them, delivering clean water back into your system.
When used together, coagulants, clarifiers and filter presses offer maximum water reclamation of over 95 percent. With so little water actually discharged with the solids, you can create a nearly closed-loop process.
Organic coagulants are best used for solid-liquid separation. They are also good options to use when trying to reduce sludge generation. Being organic in nature, these coagulants offer the added benefits of working at lower doses and having no effect on the pH of your water.
Organic coagulants are typically based on the following formulations:
The main advantages of organic coagulants include; lower dosage, lower volume of sludge produced and no effect on the pH.
Inorganic coagulants are typically cheaper than their organic counterparts, making them a cost-effective solution for a broad range of water treatment applications. They are especially effective when used on raw water with low turbidity.
When added to water, inorganic coagulants form aluminum or iron precipitates. These help to clean the water by absorbing impurities in the water as they fall. This process is known as the “sweep-floc” mechanism. However, this can add to the overall sludge volume that must be treated and removed, so it’s not the right choice in every scenario.
The main types of inorganic coagulants include:
Once you have the right coagulant, you add these chemicals to your dirty water and mix rapidly. That way, the coagulant is quickly and easily circulated throughout the water.
The residuals or by-products of these coagulants generally do not pose a water quality issue, so long as they were applied properly and with the right dosage. This is why having a water treatment expert is key. Professionals who are experienced with wastewater treatment can even set up the coagulation process so that the coagulant chemicals are removed with the floc during filtration.
Inorganic coagulants are both cost-effective and applicable for a broad variety of water and wastewater. Inorganic coagulants are particularly effective on raw water with low turbidity and will often treat this type of water when organic coagulants cannot.