Innovative Precipitation-Flocculation Process for Treating Turbid Waters from Gualaxo do Norte River, Brazil


Physical and chemical characterization and solid/liquid separation of turbid waters from a river affected by an iron tailing rupture disaster (Gualaxo do Norte River, Brazil) were studied at bench scale. Parameters such as turbidity, pH, surface tension, electrical conductivity, total suspended solids (TSS), particle size distribution (micro- and nanoparticles), and zeta potential were analyzed from samples collected at three different river depths. The results in all samples showed the presence of micro- and nanoparticles, ranging in diameters from 100 nm to 200 μm. Best results for flocculation and settling were obtained at pH 7.5, through an innovative combination of eco-friendly reagents: (i) ferric hydroxide precipitates (10 mg L−1 Fe3+) to sweep (enmesh) the dispersed solids and (ii) gelatinized starch (5 mg L−1) to form large flocs. The results showed removals between 90 and 100% of total suspended solids (micro- and nanoparticles), resulting in clear water with residual turbidity < 7 NTU. It is believed that this innovative alternative has a high potential for flocculating and treating the turbid water at Gualaxo do Norte River, assisting the water treatment stations.

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The authors thank the Brazilian Institutes, namely, CNPq, CAPES, and Renova Foundation, for supporting our research. Special thanks to our University—UFRGS—and to all students for their collaboration.

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Correspondence to J. Rubio.

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Oliveira, H.A., Azevedo, A. & Rubio, J. Innovative Precipitation-Flocculation Process for Treating Turbid Waters from Gualaxo do Norte River, Brazil. Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration 36, 851–856 (2019).

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  • Polluted rivers
  • Turbid water
  • Flocculation
  • Corn starch