The removal of five different heavy metals (Zn2+, Cu2+, Cr 3+,Cd 2+ and Ni 2+) was studied under laboratory conditions using close to neutral mixed municipal wastewater. 90 to 95 % of the Zn2+, Cu2+ and Cr3+ was found to precipitate within 5 min and to become removable by simple phase separation. The Cd2+ and Ni2+, however, refused to precipitate, unless a “reagent” (sulphide ion, primary and activated sludge) was added. In the presence of these, cadmium was normally more readily removed than nickel. Both heavy metals were removed most efficiently, when primary sludge (1.4 g.dm−3) and sulphide ions (5-15 mg.dm−3) were added in combination. As demonstrated by plant trials, this treatment would cause the heavy metals to precipitate and settle out in the primary settling tank, so that traces only would enter the aeration tank.The excess sludge would thus contain trace quantities of heavy metals only, removing an obstacle to land disposal. The introduction of this unit operation has been estimated to increase the overall construction and costs of sewage and sludge treatment by 2.3 %, the unit costs of treatment by 6 %.

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