Possible coagulation mechanisms were studied in relatively high alkalinity model systems and surface waters. On the basis of available information, original laboratory experiments and simple calculation ere performed in order to show that the adsorption of Al3+ and Fe3+ ions is not the dominant process in decreasing the stability of suspended particles. The ions of the feeding coagulants hydrolyse within short time and form positively charged water soluble aluminium- or ferric hydroxides. Adsorption of these water soluble hydroxides onto the surface of colloids and quasi-colloid particles are restricted because of the quick completion of the hydrolysis process in relatively high alkalinity (>1.2 mmol/L) water. The result of complete hydrolysis of Al3+ or Fe3+ ions are slightly positively charged poorly water soluble aluminium or ferric hydroxide sols. The positively charged hydroxides and the associated water molecules are connected to each other by hydrogen bonds, providing a stabile structure. The hydrogen bonds provide the aggregation of slightly positively charged sol aggregation into flocs. Considering the repulsing forces among the sols, high numbers of individual sol particles (having nm sizes) are able adsorb onto the surface of suspended particles, changing their electrical charge and decreasing the stability of the colloids and quasi-colloid particles. This process is dominant in the destabilisation of suspended particles.

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