Clarification of colloidal and suspended material in water using triethanolamine modified maize tassels
Kinyua, Esther Mbuci
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Suspended particles in water are a major concern in global pollution management. These particles are very small and are evenly distributed in the water. They originate from factors such as decomposing organic materials and algae. They are a significant factor in the water clarity, as they limit penetration of sunlight; provide a good environment for bacterial growth, contributing to fouling and unpleasant odours that compromise aesthetic appreciation of the water. They also complex with metals in the soil making them soluble and hence available for poisoning. Thus there is need for the removal of suspended matter in water. Removal of suspended solids is normally achieved through sedimentation or filtration. However, some suspended colloidal particles are very stable in water and cannot settle while others are able to pass through the filter because of their small sizes hence difficult to remove. In this regard, alternative methods for their removal need to be explored. This study investigated the use of a soluble polycation made from modifying maize tassels with triethanolamine to form a quaternary ammonium compound. The modified quaternary ammonium compound becomes permanently charged hence is suitable for flocculation of suspended particles in water. The modified maize tassels material was characterized using Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR). It was found that the triethanolamine was chemically anchored within the cellulose structure of the maize tassels. Clarification parameters such as settling time, reagent dosage and pH were investigated. This study reports that the best clarification was obtained at a pH of 6.0. The optimal flocculent dosage for modified flocculent that could clarify 250 ml of water having a turbidity of 12 NTU (Nephelometric Turbidity Units) was found to be 3.5 ml which clarified turbid water in less than 30 minutes. Therefore, this implies that the flocculent has a potential application for the remediation of turbid waters by aggregating suspended matter to clarify water.