Electrocoagulation is a big impressive word with a pretty simple meaning. However, the results it can achieve are often major.
Basically, electrocoagulation means solidifying, or semi-solidifying, a solution of liquid and suspended solids by passing an electrical current through it. The current creates an extreme temperature, which is concentrated in the liquid, coagulating it.
The process is certainly useful in water treatment applications, but is it worth the investment? After all, there are other ways to coagulate solutions like this, including via the use of chemicals. So, let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of electrocoagulation water treatment.
It can lead to better quality effluent
Electrocoagulation treats water without the need for chemicals. This means there is no danger of residual chemicals making their way into the effluent, leaving behind toxins and odors. There is also no thickener required as there would be in chemical coagulation, which reduces the cost of the operation up front.
Research from 2009 found that electrocoagulation reduces the total number of suspended solids in the solution by as much as 95 to 99 percent.
Metals can be recovered from the solution
The metals that are found suspended in untreated water may not be useless. In fact, they may be very useful indeed; it is just that they pose a hazard when they are suspended in water.
Some water treatment methods are unable to extract metals in a meaningful way, and instead destroy or remove them in other ways. Electrocoagulation is a little different.
As the process uses a form of electrolysis to separate and coagulate liquids, it can collect metals in a purer form. These metals can then be used in various applications.
It only requires a low level of electrical current
It actually does not take much current, in most cases, to run the coagulation equipment. This low level of current can easily be produced using green energy sources.
Electrodes are impermanent
Electrocoagulation requires electrodes to feed the current into the solution. Unfortunately, the process of coagulation is an intensive one, and places a lot of strain on the electrodes themselves, resulting in wear and tear.
This means, regular cleaning and maintenance for the electrodes are involved in the process. This can be labor-intensive work, not to mention expensive.
This also means a short life span for the electrodes, which need to be replaced often.
Many different factors can affect results
All of the following factors can affect the results of the process:
- Material and design of the electrode
- The gap between the two electrodes
- The electrodes’ polarity
- The density of the current
- The conductivity of the wastewater
- The pH of the wastewater
- The size of the particles
- And other elements
This makes it very difficult to predict the results of each wastewater treatment. This is a process in which consistency is very important, and this consistency is difficult to achieve, particularly over longer durations of treatment.
Active fine-tuning is required
As it is difficult to be consistent, the process ceases to be a passive one. You cannot just set up the equipment, let it run, and collect the effluent. Instead, you need a team who can actively fine-tune the equipment in order to get the right outcome.
This can be seriously time-consuming and expensive. Sure, the results can be highly beneficial for your firm, but the hard work and expense required to get there are significant.
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