A comparative study of biopolymers and alum in the separation and recovery of pulp fibres from paper mill effluent by flocculation

Sumona Mukherjee , Soumyadeep Mukhopadhyay , Agamuthu Pariatamby , Mohd. Ali Hashim , Jaya Narayan Sahu , Bhaskar Sen Gupta


Received October 22, 2013,Revised January 27, 2014, Accepted , Available online September 10, 2014

Volume 26,2014,Pages 1851-1860

Recovery of cellulose fibres from paper mill effluent has been studied using common polysaccharides or biopolymers such as Guar gum, Xanthan gum and Locust bean gum as flocculent. Guar gum is commonly used in sizing paper and routinely used in paper making. The results have been compared with the performance of alum,which is a common coagulant and a key ingredient of the paper industry. Guar gum recovered about 3.86 mg/L of fibre and wasmost effectiveamong the biopolymers. Settling velocity distribution curves demonstrated that Guar gum was able to settle the fibres faster than the other biopolymers; however, alum displayed the highest particle removal rate than all the biopolymers at any of the settling velocities. Alum, Guar gum, Xanthan gum and Locust bean gum removed 97.46%, 94.68%, 92.39% and 92.46% turbidity of raw effluent at a settling velocity of 0.5 cm/min, respectively. The conditions for obtaining the lowest sludge volume index such as pH, dose and mixing speed were optimised for guar gum which was the most effective among the biopolymers. Response surface methodology was used to design all experiments, and an optimum operational setting was proposed. The test results indicate similar performance of alum and Guar gum in terms of floc settling velocities and sludge volume index. Since Guar gum is a plant derived natural substance, it is environmentally benign and offers a green treatment option to the paper mills for pulp recycling.

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