By Joseph Carlston, Molycorp
With environmental regulations continuing to restrict the discharge of phosphorus from wastewater treatment facilities, traditional methods of phosphorus removal are proving inadequate. To achieve the phosphorus control necessary, a new coagulant used for phosphorus removal, cerium chloride, has been studied in several municipal and industrial wastewater treatment facilities that must meet a phosphorus discharge limit of 0.5 mg/L or lower. These studies demonstrated the high phosphorus removal capabilities of cerium chloride, with the results illustrating the ability for cerium chloride to reduce phosphorus to low concentrations in the effluent using a lower volume of product as compared to traditional coagulants, such as ferric chloride. This reduction is due to the unique ability of cerium chloride to remove phosphorus as cerium phosphate, whereas iron- and aluminum-based coagulants rely on adsorption and co-precipitation.