What is Electrocoagulation?

What is Electrocoagulation?

Electrocoagulation, also known as EC, is a broad-spectrum treatment technology that removes total suspended solids (TSS) and turbidity, metals, oils, bacteria and other contaminants from wastewater.  Electrocoagulation water treatment has been successully used in a wide array of markets and industries including: produced water treatment, industrial stormwater treatment, industrial wastewater treatment, construction stormwater treatment, acid mine water treatment, process water treatment, contaminated groundwater cleanup, stormwater & groundwater treatment, tributyltin (TBT) cleanup, zinc treatment, refinery effluent water treatment, and dredge effluent return water treatment. Advancements in electrocoagulation treatment technology over the years have resulted in EC becoming a more affordable water treatment option. 

what is electrocoagulation?

How does electrocoagulation work?

What is the electrocoagulation process? As water passes through the electrocoagulation cell, multiple reactions take place simultaneously. First, a metal ion is driven into the water. On the surface of the cathode, water is hydrolyzed into hydrogen gas and hydroxyl groups. Meanwhile, electrons flow freely to destabilize surface charges on suspended solids and emulsified oils. As the reaction continues, large flocs form that entrain suspended solids, heavy metals, emulsified oils and other contaminants. Finally, the flocs are removed from the water in downstream solids separation and filtration process steps.

What contaminants does electrocoagulation remove?

Electrocoagulation is successfully used for wastewater treatment, industrial processed water, produced water, wash water treatment and more. Several contaminants that are more difficult to remove using filtration or chemical treatment alone have been effectively removed using electrocoagulation. A few of those contaminants are:

What metals does electrocoagulation remove?

Metals include dozens of individual elements, including alkali, alkali earth, transition, rare earth, and other metals. Metals can originate from a variety of industrial sources: storage of raw materials, breakdown or dissolution of surface coatings, and other process-related and environmental background sources. When discharged to the environment, high levels of metals can be toxic to fish. For water users, high concentrations of metals can cause issues with color, plating, and other undesirable cross reactions. A wide range of treatment solutions targeting metals exist. Selection of a treatment process depends on the specific water quality targets and other co-contaminants present but typically electrocoagulation can remove the following heavy metals: copper, iron, lead, and zinc. 

What are the electrocoagulation treatment steps?

Electrocoagulation can be integrated into new or existing treatment processes. Depending on the application, the final solids separation steps can be accomplished using settling tanks, dissolved air flotation, media filtration, ultrafiltration and other technologies to achieve site specific water quality goals. 

What are advantages and disadvantages of electrocoagulation?

The electrocoagulation process has advantages and disadvantages depending upon your contaminant mix and site specific water quality goals. Below is a breakdown of electrocoagulation advantages and disadvantages of using electrocoagulation for you to review in determining if this water treatment technology is right for your specific application. 

Electrocoagulation Advantages

What are the advantages of using electrocoagulation water treatment? 

    • Low operating and maintenance costs 
    • Takes only a small footprint for equipment 
    • Highly automated, user friendly treatment systems with remote monitoring available
    • Can remove multiple contaminants in one pass
    • Usually avoids excess use of chemicals
    • Consistent treatment performance regardless of a change in water quality
    • Forms flocs that can be seperated by faster by filtration
    • Forms very little, non hazardus, and easy to de-water sludge
    • Excellent pre-treatment option for ultrafiltration (UF)/reverse osmosis (RO) systems
    • Electrocoagulation treatment technology carries a General Use Level Designation (GULD) granted by the Washington State Department of Ecology
      • This status streamlines permitting approval processes 

Electrocoagulation Disadvantages

What are the disadvantages of using electrocoagulation water treatment?

    • Not a passive system, requires power
    • Regular cleaning and maintenance of the electrodes is needed
    • Electrodes need to be replaced over time due to consumption 
    • Compared to other treatment processes, can require the addition of acids or bases for pH adjustment

Have electrocoagulation questions?

Are you researching water treatment technologies? Do you have specific electrocoagulation process questions? As an expert in the electrocoagulation space, we routinely are contacted by scientists, postdoctoral researchers, and engineers wanting additional information on electrocoagulation treating specific contaminants and better understanding it’s full range of capabilities. We’d love to talk you through the steps and share informative case studies across numerous industries showcasing our successful results using electrocoagulation to meet our clients’ site-specific water quality goals. Contact us today.