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248 WATER AND WASTEWATER TREATMENT TECHNOLOGIES PRECIPITATION, FLOCCULATION AND AGGLOMERATION

We will be examining these subjects in a little more detail in the next chapter. But for now, we should cover some of the basics because of their importance to sand filtration. The process offlocculation is applicable to aqueous waste streams where particles must be agglomerated into larger more settleable particles prior to sedimentation or other types of treatment. Highly viscous waste streams will inhibit the settling of solids. In addition to being used to treat waste streams, precipitation can also be used as an in situ process to treat aqueous wastes in surface impoundments. In an in-situ application, lime and flocculants are added directly to the lagoon, and mixing, flocculation, and sedimentation are allowed to occur within the lagoon.

Precipitation and flocculation can be integrated into more complex treatment systems. The performance and reliability of these processes depends greatly on the variability of the composition of the waste being treated. Chemical addition must be determined using laboratory tests and must be adjusted with compositional changes of the waste being treated or poor performance will result.

Precipitation is nonselective in that compounds other than those targeted may be removed. Both precipitation and flocculation are nondestructive and generate a large volume of sludge which must be disposed of. Coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, and filtration, are typically followed by chlorination in municipal wastewater treatment processes.

Coagulation involves the addition of chemicals to alter the physical state of dissolved and suspended solids. This facilitates their removal by sedimentation and filtration. The most common primary coagulants are alum ferric sulfate and ferric chloride. Additional chemicals that may be added to enhance coagulation include activate silica, a complex silicate made from sodium silicate, and charged organic molecules called polyelectrolytes, which include large-molecular-weight polyacrylamides, dimethyl-diallylammonium chloride, polyamines, and starch.

These chemicals ensure the aggregation of the suspended solids during the next treatment step-flocculation. Sometimes polyclectrolytes (usually polyacrylamides) are also added after flocculation and sedimentation as an aid to the filtration step.

Coagulation may also remove dissolved organic and inorganic compounds. The hydrolyzing metal salts may react with the organic matter to form a precipitate, or

Note that flocculation is a purely physical process in which the treated water is gently stirred to increase interparticle collisions and, thus, promote the formation of large particles. After adequate flocculation, most of the aggregates will settle out during the 1 to 2 hours of sedimentation.

they may form aluminum hydroxide or ferric hydroxide floe particles on which the organic molecules adsorb. The organic substances are then removed by sedimentation and filtration, or filtration alone if direct filtration or inline filtration is used. Adsorption and precipitation also removes inorganic substances.

The process of sedimentation involves the separation from water, by gravitational settling of suspended particles that are heavier than water. The resulting effluent is then subject to rapid filtration to separate out solids that are still suspended in the water. Rapid filters typically consist of 24 to 36 inches of 0.5 to 1-mm diameter sand and/or anthracite. Particles are removed as water is filtered through the media at rates of 1 to 6 gallons/minute/square foot. Rapid filtration is effective in removing most particles that remain after sedimentation. The substances that are removed by coagulation, sedimentation, and filtration accumulate in sludge which must be properly disposed of.

Coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, and filtration will remove many contaminants. Perhaps most important is the reduction of turbidity. This treatment yields water of good clarity and enhances disinfection efficiency. If particles are not removed, they harbor bacteria and make final disinfection more difficult.

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