Alum, the predominant coagulant in conventional drinking water treatment schemes, has various disadvantages including the production of large volumes of sludge, lowering water pH (requiring pH adjustment using lime), limited coagulation pH range of 6.5 to 8.0, etc. At the Barekese Water Treatment Plant in Ghana, an alternative, the polyelectrolyte – Polyaluminium chloride (PAC) is also used in coagulation but limited information is available on the operating conditions required to achieve better performance than alum-based coagulation. The aim of this study was to determine the optimal coagulant dose, mixing speed and operating pH for enhanced performance in water treatment. The effects on the treatment process of three different sets of mixing speed pairs – 180/40, 180/25 and 150/25 revolutions per minute (fast/slow) – in a pH range of 6.5 to 8.0 were investigated. The mixing speed and PAC dose yielding the best coagulation were 150/25 rpm and 15 mg/L respectively. The optimal pH range for PAC coagulation performance was 7.5 to 8.0.
The coagulation process in conventional water treatment could be enhanced and the ensuing water pH decline reduced appreciably by applying the right dosage of polyaluminium chloride and appropriate process conditions of pH, fluid mixing speed matrix and residence time.
Application of polyaluminium chloride under the recommended process conditions produces relatively better quality treated water than alum application.