Treatment of cooling tower blowdown water containing silica, calcium and magnesium by electrocoagulation

Z. Liao, Z. Gu, M. C. Schulz, J. R. Davis, J. C. Baygents, J. Farrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


This research investigated the effectiveness of electrocoagulation using iron and aluminium electrodes for treating cooling tower blowdown (CTB) waters containing dissolved silica (Si(OH)4), Ca2+ and Mg 2+. The removal of each target species was measured as a function of the coagulant dose in simulated CTB waters with initial pH values of 5, 7, and 9. Experiments were also performed to investigate the effect of antiscaling compounds and coagulation aids on hardness ion removal. Both iron and aluminum electrodes were effective at removing dissolved silica. For coagulant doses ≤3mM, silica removal was a linear function of the coagulant dose, with 0.4 to 0.5 moles of silica removed per mole of iron or aluminium. Iron electrodes were only 30% as effective at removing Ca2+ and Mg2+ as compared to silica. There was no measurable removal of hardness ions by aluminium electrodes in the absence of organic additives. Phosphonate based antiscaling compounds were uniformly effective at increasing the removal of Ca2+ and Mg2+ by both iron and aluminium electrodes. Cationic and amphoteric polymers used as coagulation aids were also effective at increasing hardness ion removal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2345-2352
Number of pages8
JournalWater Science and Technology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2009


  • Blowdown
  • Cooling tower
  • Electrocoagulation
  • Phosphonate
  • Water softening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology


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