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Significance of Design and Operational Variables in Chemical Phosphorus Removal

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Batch and continuous experiments using model and real wastewaters were conducted to investigate the effect of metal salt (ferric and alum) addition in wastewater treatment and the corresponding phosphate removal from a design and operational perspective. Key factors expected to influence the phosphorus removal efficiency, such as pH, alkalinity, metal dose, metal type, initial and residual phosphate concentration, mixing, reaction time, age of flocs, and organic content of wastewater, were investigated. The lowest achievable concentration of orthophosphate under optimal conditions (0.01 to 0.05 mg/L) was similar for both aluminum and iron salts, with a broad optimum pH range of 5.0 to 7.0. Thus, in the typical operating range of wastewater treatment plants, pH is not a sensitive indicator of phosphorus removal efficiency. The most significant effect for engineering practice, apart from the metal dose, is that of mixing intensity and slow kinetic removal of phosphorus in contact with the chemical sludge formed. Experiments show that significant savings in chemical cost could be achieved by vigorously mixing the added chemical at the point of dosage and, if conditions allow, providing a longer contact time between the metal hydroxide flocs and the phosphate content of the wastewater. These conditions promoted the achievement of less than 0.1 mg/L residual orthophosphate content, even at lower metal-to-phosphorus molar ratios. These observations are consistent with the surface complexation model presented in a companion paper ( Smith et al., 2008).

Keywords: adsorption; chemical phosphorus removal; chemisorption; co-precipitation; kinetics; precipitation

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 2008

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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