Optimization of Dissolved Air Flotation for Drinking Water Treatment
Bickerton, Benjamin James
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The use of dissolved air flotation (DAF) for drinking water treatment has steadily grown in popularity in Atlantic Canada for the treatment of low turbidity water supplies with high levels of algae or dissolved organic matter. Runoff from high intensity rainfall events may cause a rapid increase in turbidity and dissolved organic matter in rivers and lakes used for drinking water. A technical evaluation of a DAF water treatment plant (WTP) was conducted to determine the contributing factors to clearwell turbidity increases resulting from increased raw water turbidity and colour during intense rainfall and runoff events. The effect of chemical and operational factors on treatment of a low turbidity and colour water source as well as a high turbidity and colour water source were examined, including coagulant dose, coagulation pH, polyaluminum chloride (PACl) coagulant basicity and DAF recycle rate. In response to deteriorating water quality, it was found that increased coagulant addition inadvertently caused the loss of coagulation pH control in a full-scale DAF WTP, resulting in potentially elevated dissolved aluminum residuals entering the clearwell. This would have led to excessive aluminum hydroxide precipitation in the clearwell, and resulted in turbidity increases above the acceptable limit of 0.2 NTU. Turbidity was found to be better removed, and dissolved aluminum residuals minimized, when coagulation pH was set to the pH of minimum aluminum solubility vs. a lower pH of 6.0 during bench-scale DAF testing. A higher dose of coagulant was required to produce optimal removal of turbidity and dissolved organics at the pH of minimum solubility. The difference in bench-scale DAF treatment performance was found to be minimal when comparing sulphated PACl coagulants with 50 and 70+ % basicity. Charge analysis parameters zeta potential and streaming current were found to have a strong correlation in bench-scale testing, though the relationship between the two was affected by the coagulation pH. The results suggest that utilizing streaming current for coagulant dose control at a full-scale WTP would be best accomplished by establishing a consistent relationship between raw water quality, pH and other factors with streaming current experimentally before relying streaming current targets for dose control. Equivalent or improved DAF efficacy for solid-liquid separation was found when the recycle rate was lowered from 12 to 6 % in bench-scale tests and 12 to 8% in full-scale tests. The results suggested that maintaining an optimum air:solids ratio improved treatment performance, possibly by providing adequate bubble contact opportunities while minimizing excess shearing of the sludge blanket. The most significant finding of this research was that maintaining the coagulation pH in WTPs utilizing PACl coagulants is of utmost importance during source water quality deterioration in order to optimize treatment performance as well as prevent excess dissolved and precipitated aluminum from entering a public drinking water supply.