Comparison of electrocoagulation and chemical coagulation pretreatment for enhanced virus removal using microfiltration membranes.
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This research studied virus removal by iron electrocoagulation (EC) followed by microfiltration (MF) in water treatment using the MS2 bacteriophage as a tracer virus. In the absence of EC, MF alone achieved less than a 0.5-log removal of MS2 virus, but, as the iron-coagulant dosage increased, the log virus removal increased dramatically. More than 4-log virus removal, as required by the Surface Water Treatment Rule, was achieved with 6-9 mg/L Fe(3+). The experimental data indicated that at lower iron dosages and pH (< approximately 8 mgFe/L and pH 6.3 and 7.3) negatively charged MS2 viruses first adsorbed onto the positively charged iron hydroxide floc particles before being removed by MF. At higher iron dosages and pH (> approximately 9 mgFe/L and pH 8.3), virus removal was attributed predominantly to enmeshment and subsequent removal by MF. Additionally, the experimental data showed no obvious influence of ionic strength in the natural water range of 10(-7)-10(-2)M on MS2 virus removal by EC-MF. Finally, EC pretreatment significantly outperformed chemical coagulation pretreatment for virus removal. The proposed mechanism for this improved performance by EC is that locally higher iron and virus concentrations and locally lower pH near the anode improved MS2 enmeshment by iron flocs as well as adsorption of MS2 viruses onto the iron floc particles.