In countries located in tropical zones, a critical task in drinking water plants is the removal of the natural organic matter (NOM), particularly during the rainy season when a lot of organic matter is transported by run-off into the water bodies. It provokes overloaded in the plants and they have often needed to be shut down. In the dry season, the NOM removal is also difficult due to its low concentration, and greater coagulant dosages are needed to destabilize the negative charge of the NOM.
In order to increase the NOM removal, synthetic polymers based on acrylamide are sometimes used as coagulant aids. However, they have been associated with Alzheimerand are carcinogenic. Therefore, the present requirement is to find new treatments affordable for the conditions existing in tropical countries. The application of green compounds has become a responsibility to guarantee the health of the population.
The situation in Nicaragua is similar to that in many tropical countries. At present, there are ten drinking water plants which use conventional treatment. Nine of them use surface water supplied by rivers, and one uses water from a lake. Many of these plants have problems of continuity, quantity, water quality, and coverage, although the water cost is low.
The removal of natural organic matter by conventional or enhanced coagulation using aluminium sulphate or chitosan as coagulant while reducing the formation of trihalomethanes (THM) was the aim of this work. Chitosan is an environment-friendly compound that can act as coagulant, flocculant and adsorbent. Adsorption with activated carbon and chitosan has also been studied. The natural organic matter in the source waters was fractionated in order to determine which fractions are removed more easily by coagulation and which are recalcitrant.
The experimental works was carried out with a period of sampling between 2003 and 2010, taking into consideration the dry and rainy seasons. The results show that conventional coagulation with aluminium sulphate is not sufficient to reduce the presenceof NOM sufficiently to avoid a high level of THM in the disinfection step. The NOM removal is greatly improved by treatment with enhanced coagulation, but a significant amount of NOM is not removed, with a high THM concentration as a consequence. High NOM removal can however be achieved by enhanced coagulation and subsequent adsorption with granular activated carbon.
Chitosan has good properties as a coagulant in water with a high NOM content and performs well as flocculant. It also has a high adsorption capacity for NOM. Therefore, chitosan could be a good option as a substitute for aluminium sulphate compounds. However, since chitosan does not work properly in the dry season, when the NOM content is low, the use of aluminium sulphate in combination with chitosan should bestudied in more detail. A field with a large potential is the modification of the chitosan structure to increase its capacity for NOM removal and decrease the need for aluminium sulphate. Another advantage of using chitosan is the reduction of the negative impact of shrimp and squat lobster shells on the environment.
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology , 2011. , 80 p.
2011-02-18, K2, Teknikringen 28, entréplan, KTH, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)