The future for electrocoagulation as a localised water treatment technology

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Chemosphere, 2005, 59 (3), pp. 355 - 367
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Electrocoagulation is an electrochemical method of treating polluted water whereby sacrificial anodes corrode to release active coagulant precursors (usually aluminium or iron cations) into solution. Accompanying electrolytic reactions evolve gas (usually as hydrogen bubbles) at the cathode. Electrocoagulation has a long history as a water treatment technology having been employed to remove a wide range of pollutants. However electrocoagulation has never become accepted as a 'mainstream' water treatment technology. The lack of a systematic approach to electrocoagulation reactor design/operation and the issue of electrode reliability (particularly passivation of the electrodes over time) have limited its implementation. However recent technical improvements combined with a growing need for small-scale decentralised water treatment facilities have led to a re-evaluation of electrocoagulation. Starting with a review of electrocoagulation reactor design/operation, this article examines and identifies a conceptual framework for electrocoagulation that focuses on the interactions between electrochemistry, coagulation and flotation. In addition detailed experimental data are provided from a batch reactor system removing suspended solids together with a mathematical analysis based on the 'white water' model for the dissolved air flotation process. Current density is identified as the key operational parameter influencing which pollutant removal mechanism dominates. The conclusion is drawn that electrocoagulation has a future as a decentralised water treatment technology. A conceptual framework is presented for future research directed towards a more mechanistic understanding of the process. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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