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Investigating the coagulation of non-proteinaceous algal organic matter: Optimizing coagulation performance and identification of removal mechanisms

Naceradska, Jana, Novotna, Katerina, Cermakova, Lenka, Cajthaml, Tomas, Pivokonsky, Martin
Journal of environmental sciences (China) 2019 v.79 pp. 25-34
adsorption, algae, alum, aluminum, aluminum hydroxide, aluminum sulfate, carbohydrate content, coagulation, dissolved organic carbon, industry, molecular weight, pH, water treatment
The removal of algal organic matter (AOM) is a growing concern for the water treatment industry worldwide. The current study investigates coagulation of non-proteinaceous AOM (AOM after protein separation), which has been minimally explored compared with proteinaceous fractions. Jar tests with either aluminum sulphate (alum) or polyaluminium chloride (PACl) were performed at doses of 0.2–3.0 mg Al per 1 mg of dissolved organic carbon in the pH range 3.0–10.5. Additionally, non-proteinaceous matter was characterized in terms of charge, molecular weight and carbohydrate content to assess the treatability of its different fractions. Results showed that only up to 25% of non-proteinaceous AOM can be removed by coagulation under optimized conditions. The optimal coagulation pH (6.6–8.0 for alum and 7.5–9.0 for PACl) and low surface charge of the removed fraction indicated that the prevailing coagulation mechanism was adsorption of non-proteinaceous matter onto aluminum hydroxide precipitates. The lowest residual Al concentrations were achieved in very narrow pH ranges, especially in the case of PACl. High-molecular weight saccharide-like organics were amenable to coagulation compared to low-molecular weight (<3 kDa) substances. Their high content in non-proteinaceous matter (about 67%) was the reason for its low removal. Comparison with our previous studies implies that proteinaceous and non-proteinaceous matter is coagulated under different conditions due to the employment of diverse coagulation mechanisms. The study suggests that further research should focus on the removal of low-molecular weight AOM, reluctant to coagulate, with other treatment processes to minimize its detrimental effect on water safety.