Nature Publishing Group (Macmillan Publishers Limited)
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This study investigated the effects of four operational and environmental variables on the removal of trace metal contaminants from drinking water by electrocoagulation (EC). Removal efficiencies for five metals (arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and nickel) were compared under varying combinations of electrode material, post-treatment, water composition and pH. Iron electrodes out-performed aluminum electrodes in removing chromium and arsenic. At pH 6.5, aluminum electrodes were slightly more effective at removing nickel and cadmium, while at pH 8.5, iron electrodes were more effective for these metals. Regardless of electrode, cadmium and nickel removal efficiencies were higher at pH 8.5 than at pH 6.5. Post-EC treatment using membrane filtration (0.45 μm) enhanced contaminant removal for all metals but nickel. With the exception of lead, all metals exhibited poorer removal efficiencies as the ionic strength of the background electrolyte increased, particularly in the very high-solids synthetic groundwaters. Residual aluminum concentrations were lowest at pH 6.5, while iron residuals were lowest in low ionic strength waters. Both aluminum and iron residuals required post-treatment filtration to meet drinking water standards. EC with post-treatment filtration appears to effectively remove trace metal contaminants to potable water standards, but both reactor and source water parameters critically impact removal efficiency.
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