High-throughput screening to evaluate optimum coagulation conditions via colloidal stability analysis Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Current methods of optimizing the coagulant dosage in wastewater treatment processes typically rely on the use of labor- and material-intensive jar testers, which are inadequate when coagulation processes require frequent adjustments due to variations in properties of the incoming feed. Analytical centrifuges (ACs) employ an integrated optics system that simultaneously monitors the position of the boundary between two separating phases in multiple samples of fairly low volumes (∼2 mL) - thus it was expected that ACs would be ideally suited to study the stability and settling kinetics of coagulation treatment processes. In this study, wastewater samples from a biogas generation facility (known as centrate) were collected in February 2022 (Batch A) and July 2022 (Batch B). A comprehensive screening of the treatment performance for Batch B was conducted at three pHs (5, 6, and 7) and nine concentrations of ferric chloride (0-500 mg-Fe3+/L) - it was found that the front-tracking profiles measured by the integrated optics system could be used to identify the minimal coagulation conditions needed to transition from slow to rapid settling. While the settling velocity was found to be well correlated with the instability index, a dimensionless number between 0 and 1 (where values closer to 1 indicate better separation), it was determined that the percentage of COD removal from the centrate samples increased up to an instability index of approximately 0.5 and then plateaued. Finally, it was found that the front-tracking profiles could be used to estimate the volume of sludge produced at various coagulation conditions. Thus, the results from this study establish ACs as an important screening tool for rapid evaluation of treatment performance while consuming minimal material and time - in this study, a total of 132 screening experiments were conducted using approximately ∼11 L of centrate and ∼6 hours of operator time.


  • Premachandra, Abhishek
  • McKay, Yves
  • McClure, Matthew
  • Sarkar, Indranil
  • Lutes, Kevin
  • Rollings-Scattergood, Sasha
  • Latulippe, David

publication date

  • November 2023