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Comparative study of humic acid removal and floc characteristics by electrocoagulation and chemical coagulation

Semerjian, Lucy, Damaj, Ahmad, Salam, Darine
Environmental monitoring and assessment 2015 v.187 no.11 pp. 670
alum, aluminum, coagulants, coagulation, electrical conductivity, electrodes, humic acids, iron, pH, shape
The current study aims at investigating the efficiency of electrocoagulation for the removal of humic acid from contaminated waters. In parallel, conventional chemical coagulation was conducted to asses humic acid removal patterns. The effect of varying contributing parameters (matrix pH, humic acid concentration, type of electrode (aluminum vs. iron), current density, solution conductivity, and distance between electrodes) was considered to optimize the electrocoagulation process for the best attainable humic acid removal efficiencies. Optimum removals were recorded at pH of 5.0–5.5, an electrical conductivity of 3000 μS/cm at 25 °C, and an electrode distance of 1 cm for both electrode types. With aluminum electrodes, a current density of 0.05 mA/cm² outperformed 0.1 mA/cm² yet not higher densities, whereas a current density of 0.8 mA/cm² was needed for iron electrodes to exhibit comparable performance. With both electrode types, higher initial humic acid concentrations were removed at a slower rate but ultimately attained almost complete removals. On the other hand, the best humic acid removals (∼90 %) by chemical coagulation were achieved at 4 mg/L for both coagulants. Also, higher removals were attained at elevated initial humic acid concentrations. Humic acid removals of 90 % or higher at an initial HA concentration of 40 mg/L were exhibited, yet alum performed better at the highest experimented concentration. It was evident that iron flocs were larger, denser, and more geometrical in shape compared to aluminum flocs.