Chemical precipitation with the addition of ferric chloride is commonly used to remove phosphorous from wastewater. However, since its application also involves several disadvantages, alternative solutions are required. The present paper shows the results of a full-scale experimental work aimed at evaluating the efficiency of the ion exchange process using a polymeric anion exchange resin impregnated with aluminum ions in the removal of phosphorous from wastewater. The study compared the results obtained through this process with chemical precipitation, considering both technical and economic issues. At the same dosage of 6 L/hour and influent concentration (about 6 mg/L), total removal efficiency of 95% and 78% (including also that occurring in the mechanical and biological processes) were achieved by means of the anion exchange process and chemical precipitation, respectively. However, in the latter case, this value was insufficient to ensure consistent compliance with the limit of 2 mg/L Ptot set on the effluent; to achieve this goal, the ferric chloride dosage had to be raised to 12 L/hour, thus increasing the related costs. Furthermore, the anion exchange process generated a lower sludge production. Therefore, the ion exchange process represents a valid alternative to chemical precipitation for P removal from wastewater.

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