Flocculation for Water Treatment

After particles suspended in water have been coagulated, flocculation is often necessary in order to aggregate the coagulated particles (pin floc) into larger particles that more readily settle or float. A common mechanism for doing this is through the addition of synthetic polymers, which are typically formed from acrylamide monomers, that then bridge together coagulated particles into a more dense particle.

Have questions about flocculants and how they can help you? Click the button below to get in touch with one of our water treatment experts!

Types of Flocculants

Flocculants are high molecular weight polyacrylamides that range in charge, structure, size, and available form. Each of these factors can effect the product and its ability to treat specific water in different ways. Therefore it is important to consider each factor or contact a water expert before making a final decision.

Polymer Forms

Flocculants are available in three main forms:

Dry Polymer – This is the most concentrated form of flocculant available for purchase, as it comes in 100% active powders or beads. Typically will need to be made down to a less than 1% solution prior to being fed.

Emulsion Polymer – This polymer comes suspended in an oil based carrier and ranges from 30-50% active. Typically will need to be made down to a less than 1% solution prior to being fed.

Solution Polymer – Finally, solution polymer comes pre-made to the necessary solution and can be fed neat. Typically 1-20% active.

All three forms are perfectly acceptable to use and will be effective. Each facility must weigh the pros and cons of each type and balance the cost and ease of use to make a decision on which will be best for their unique circumstance. If you aren’t sure which form is best for your needs, please feel free to reach out to our experts using the buttons at the top and bottom of this page.

Polymer Charge

The next variable to consider in polymer selection is the charge. Polymers can come as an Anionic, Cationic, or Non-Ionic Charge and for the Anionic and Cationic there is a wide range of percent charges available ranging from less than 5% all the way to greater than 90%. The percent charge simply refers to the number of active charge sites available on the polymer chain—the percent needed is very facility specific and water chemistry specific.

Molecular Weight

Another variable to consider when deciding which flocculant is best suited to your needs is the molecular weight of the polymer, which could be low, medium, high, or anywhere in between. The final variable that must be considered is the structure of the polymer. The most basic structure and the most commonly used structure is simply a linear molecule and is available in all three forms listed above.

Structured polymers are only available as emulsions and can be cross linked or branched. Structured polymers are typically better in high sheer environments like dewatering applications. The sheer will expose more of the charge sites to the material to be aggregated allowing for a better floc to be formed.

Custom Blended Flocculation Solutions

Flocculant choice is highly facility and chemistry dependent. A flocculant that works at one facility may not work at another facility across town that has the exact same process and waste type. Careful analysis of how different polymers perform and what dosage is necessary across the range of wastewater chemistries seen at a facility is critical when selecting the correct flocculant.

FCT Water can perform testing and analysis at various times of the day and days of the week to understand the profile of the water to be treated. From this information we are able to recommend the best product to use and optimize the cost and efficacy of flocculation for the facility.

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