Coagulation dynamics of fractal flocs induced by enmeshment and electrostatic patch mechanisms

Jr Lin Lin, Chihpin Huang, Ching Ju M. Chin, Jill R. Pan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


The size and structure of flocs during floc formation were monitored for various coagulation mechanisms. Two distinctive mechanisms, namely, enmeshment and electrostatic patch, govern the dynamics of kaolin particles coagulation by polyaluminum chloride (PACl). They were investigated by small angle static light scattering (SASLS) and solid-state 27Al NMR. In addition, a novel wet SEM (WSEM) was used in-situ to image the morphology of the aggregate in aqueous solution. Synthetic suspended particles were coagulated by two PACl products, a commercial product (PACl) and one laboratory product (PACl-E). The PACl-E contained more than 60% Al13 while the PACl contained only 7% Al13, with large percentage of colloidal Al. For coagulation by PACl at neutral pH and high dosage where the strong repulsion between particles occurs, the enmeshment ruled by reaction-limited aggregation (RLA) results in larger sweep flocs as well as higher fractal dimensional structure. For coagulation by PACl-E at alkaline pH and low dosage, the flocs were coagulated predominately by electrostatic patch with Al13 aggregates. At such condition, it is likely that diffusion-limited aggregation (DLA) predominately rule PACl-E coagulation. The fractal dimension (Ds) values of PACl and PACl-E flocs formed at enmeshment and electrostatic patch increased with dosage, respectively. When breakage of flocs occurs, the breakage rate of PACl-E flocs is slower than that of sweep flocs. By WSEM imaging, the adsorption of spherical Al precipitates onto the particles was observed to form sweep flocs with a rough and ragged contour, while the PACl-E flocs were formed with a smooth and glossy structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4457-4466
Number of pages10
JournalWater Research
Issue number17
StatePublished - Nov 2008


  • Coagulation
  • Fractal dimension
  • Kaolin aggregates
  • PACl
  • Wet SEM


Dive into the research topics of 'Coagulation dynamics of fractal flocs induced by enmeshment and electrostatic patch mechanisms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this