Chitosan has unique properties among biopolymers, especially due to the presence of primary amino groups. Chitosan has been used for the chelation of metal ions in near‐neutral solution, the complexation of anions in acidic solution (cationic properties due to amine protonation), the coagulation of negatively charged contaminants under acidic conditions, and for precipitative flocculation at pH above the pKa of chitosan. The coagulation and flocculation properties can be used to treat particulate suspensions (organic or inorganic) and also to treat dissolved organic materials (including dyes and humic acid). This paper will give an overview of the principal results obtained in the treatment of various suspensions and solutions: (a) bentonite suspensions; (b) organic suspensions; (c) anionic dye solutions; and (d) humic acid solutions. Stoichiometry and charge restabilization were determined for the coagulation of humic acid, kaolin, and organic dyes with chitosan, indicating charge neutralization as the dominant mechanism for removal. Charge patch destabilization and bridging mechanisms were inferred in other cases, based on the effects of the apparent molecular weight of the chitosan preparations and effectiveness of sub‐stoichiometric doses of chitosan. For dye solutions, results showed that color can be removed either by sorption onto solid‐state chitosan or by coagulation‐flocculation using dissolved‐state chitosan; the reactivity of amine groups was significantly increased when dissolved chitosan was used. For humic materials, chitosan can be used as a primary coagulant or as a flocculant after coagulation with alum or other inexpensive coagulants. The influence of the degree of deacetylation and the molecular weight of chitosan on its performance as coagulant/flocculant is illustrated by several examples.
Ecole des Mines d'Alès, Laboratoire Génie de l'Environnement Industriel, Ales cedex, France 2:
Société Diagonal, Ales cedex, France 3:
Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA