Flocculation of Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb, and Zn during Estuarine Mixing (Caspian Sea)

Document Type: Original Research Paper


Department of Environmental Engineering, Graduate Faculty of Environment, University of Tehran, P. O. Box 14155-6135, Tehran, Iran


During estuarine mixing of fresh water with saline water and due to the flocculation process, a
portion of dissolved metals come into particulate phase, and the dissolved load decreases. This process plays an important role in self-purification of heavy metals in rivers. In this study, flocculation of Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn during mixing of Cheshme-Kileh River water with Caspian Sea water has been investigated. Salinity and electrical conductivity are the governing factors for the flocculation of Mn and Cu. Zn and Ni are governed by pH. Dissolved oxygen is a governing factor for the flocculation of Pb. Rapid flocculation occurs in the earlier stages of mixing. The final flocculation rates of metals are in the following order: Mn (68.79%) > Pb (45.45%) > Ni (26.32%) > Cu (23.08%) > Zn (21.21%). In addition, electro-flocculation (EF) is investigated. The results reveal that EF had adverse effect on flocculation rates of heavy metals. General pattern of EF of metals is like the following: Mn (57.89%) > Pb (40.9%) > Cu (23.08% > Ni (22.37%) > Zn (15.15%). Furthermore, the effect of decreasing pH level on flocculation of heavy metals is studied. Except for Mn, decreasing the pH increased the flocculation rates of heavy metals. Maximum flocculation of Ni, Cu, Pb, and Zn occur at pH about 7.5. Due to the flocculation of trace metals during the estuarine mixing about 51.6, 7.8, 5.5, 3.9, and 3.6 ton/year of Mn, Ni, Zn, Pb, and Cu, respectively, are removed from the river water.