Electroflocculation (EF) is a coagulation/flocculation process in which active coagulant species are generated in situ by electrolytic oxidation of an appropriate anode material. The effect of colloidal suspension pretreatment by EF on membrane fouling was measured by flux decline at constant pressure. An EF cell was operated in batch mode and comprised two flat sheet electrodes, an aluminium anode and stainless steel cathode, which were immersed in the treated suspension, and connected to an external DC power supply. The cell was run at constant current between 0.06–0.2A. The results show that pre-EF enhances the permeate flux at pH 5 and 6.5, but only marginal improvement is observed at pH 8. At all pH values cake formation on the membrane surface was observed. The differences in membrane behavior can be explained by conventional coagulation theory and transitions between aluminium mononuclear species which affect particle characteristics and consequently cake properties. At pH 6.5, where sweep floc mechanism dominates due to increased precipitation of aluminium hydroxide, increased flux rates were observed. It is evident that EF can serve as an efficient pretreatment to ultrafiltration of colloid particles.
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