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Coagulation of dissolved organic matter in surface water by novel titanium (III) chloride: Mechanistic surface chemical and spectroscopic characterisation

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Sabir Hussain
  • John Awad
  • Binoy Sarkar
  • Christopher W.K. Chow
  • Jinming Duan
  • John van Leeuwen
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>15/04/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Separation and Purification Technology
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)213-223
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Problems caused by residual organics in treated water include the formation of disinfection by-products (DBP) following reaction with chlorine and being a substrate for microbial regrowth in the drinking water distribution system. Dissolved organic matter (DOM) can only be partially removed by conventional treatment process i.e. coagulation by Al- and Fe-based salts. In the present study, the performance of titanium trichloride (TiCl3) as a coagulant for surface water treatment was studied and compared with conventionally used aluminum sulfate (alum). Jar test experiments were performed at various coagulant doses and pH levels to determine the optimum conditions based on removal efficiencies of dissolved organic carbon (DOC). The zeta potential values were analysed for assessing the destabilisation mechanism of DOM flocs. The TiCl3 showed a significantly higher capacity for DOC removal at pH around 3 at which charge neutralization was found to be the dominant mechanism for the floc formation. This was further evident from the relatively larger floc sizes obtained with TiCl3 treatment. However, destabilization of Ti-flocs occurred at pH 4.5 through an adsorption-enmeshment mechanism due to a highly negative zeta potential. Additionally, fluorescence spectroscopic analyses showed that TiCl3 was more efficient than alum in removing humic compounds. A two-stage treatment process by alum and TiCl3, either as the same chemical or both showed better performance than a single dose treatment. The results indicate that TiCl3 could be an effective alternative coagulant for the treatment of waters, particularly those of low alkalinity and high DOC concentration and low pH wastewaters for removal of hydrophobic compounds and particulate matter.