What is wastewater and why do we need better treatment solutions?

Toxic effluents are a byproduct of industrial processes in a variety of sectors, including coal-fired electricity generation, livestock farming, and landfills. These types of waste pose a significant risk to the environment, as they are often highly concentrated and can easily infiltrate into surrounding areas and ecosystems. Significant sources of wastewater and other leachates are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that discharges of harmful compounds do not exceed a given limit. As environmental restrictions increase and the standards of wastewater discharge become more stringent, there is a growing need for treatment options that are cost-effective, reliable, and capable of dealing with a wide range of pollutants. Electrocoagulation technology offers a solution to this issue with significant improvements over existing options by facilitating extremely high (up to 99%+) pollutant load reductions without the addition of costly treatment chemicals.

How does electrocoagulation work?

 
 
Turbidity Removal with Electrocoagulation Treatment Source: Powell Electrocoagulation

Turbidity Removal with Electrocoagulation Treatment

Source: Powell Electrocoagulation

Electrocoagulation incorporates electromotive forces as a catalyst to initiate multiple chemical reactions within an aqueous solution, ultimately resulting in the suspension and neutralization of unwanted pollutants. The foundation of this process relies on usage of “sacrificial” electrodes, which are metal plates that release ions into solution which bond with chemical compounds in the liquid. The process is dependent on the surface area of the electrodes, and electrocoagulation systems can be tailored to meet the specific needs of each application. The only input required is electricity, which is passed through the carefully-engineered system in order to deliver maximum efficiency of pollutant removal.

As the solution moves towards a new point of equilibrium, contaminants precipitate and may be easily removed utilizing secondary separation techniques. Because only one system is necessary to remove a broad spectrum of wastes, businesses save space, time, and costs. Typically, 99%+ reduction in pollutant levels can be achieved after treatment (15-75 seconds) with electrocoagulation.  After treatment and removal of harmful pollutants to a desirable level, waste streams can either be reused, discharged, or directed towards another process to be used as an input for salable products.  

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For a complete listing of removed contaminants, CLICK HERE.

Electrocoagulation systems provide multiple benefits when compared to traditional chemical treatment or filtration methods. A key point of divergence between these methods is that electrocoagulation is not additive. Chemical treatment neutralizes pollutants by pouring more substances, and therefore money, into solution while electrocoagulation facilitates their removal with sacrificial electrodes. Therefore, chemically treated sludge is often caustic, whereas effluent from electrocoagulation is neutral (6 - 7 pH) and contains stable, oxidized metals that are no longer harmful to the environment.

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