Mixed metal oxide anodes used for the electrochemical degradation of a real mixed industrial wastewater
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Mixed industrial wastewaters are often highly contaminated with heavy metals and organic pollutants. Treating these mixed wastewaters requires many stagewise unit operations. Our work investigates using an electrochemical oxidation-in-situ coagulation (ECO-IC) process as a pre-treatment step toward the efficient treatment of real mixed industrial wastewater rich with heavy metals and organic contaminants. The process degraded organic contaminants in the wastewater via anodic electrochemical oxidation. Simultaneously, heavy metals were precipitated in the solution by coagulants (iron hydroxides) formed in-situ by cathode-generated hydroxyl ions reacting with the significant amounts of dissolved iron in the wastewater. IrO2-RuO2 mixed metal oxide anodes were identified as the best electrodes for organic compound degradation demonstrating 97% degradation of methyl orange (MO) as a model compound within 15 min. These anodes were used to treat real industrial wastewater produced from the industrial cleaning of train tanker cars transporting industrial solvents. The electrochemical treatment experiments resulted in a treated solution with a lower heavy metal content, achieving 96% reduction in Fe and 30% reduction in As content. Only moderate decreases in organic content were observed up to a maximum of 13% reduction in total organic carbon after 1 h of treatment. Electrochemical treatment of the mixed industrial wastewater produced greater effective diameter of the suspended particles and distinct sediment, liquid, and suspended foam phases that could be easily separated for further treatment. ECO-IC shows promise as an efficient and chemical-free method to coagulate heavy metals in real industrial wastewaters and could be an effective pre-treatment in their separation.
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