Water research

Acceleration of saturated porous media clogging and silicon dissolution due to low concentrations of Al(III) in the recharge of reclaimed water.

PMID 29945029


The recharge of reclaimed water is an effective strategy for addressing the issues of water quality deterioration and groundwater level decline simultaneously. Residual Al coagulants are normally remained in the recovered water at low concentrations, and may induce clogging problems during the recharging process. However, this issue has been ignored in the past. In this study, we investigated the mechanisms of Al(III)-induced aquifer bio-clogging, the role of Al(III) in quartz sand media (SiO2) dissolution and re-precipitation in the series of aquifer columns. We determined that Al(III) resulted in serious clogging in ∼140 h at low concentrations that satisfied the national drinking water standard of China. The corresponding hydraulic conductivity decreased by more than ∼90% in the bacteria-containing aquifer, which was ∼30% greater than that for the bacteria-free trials. The enhanced Al(III)-related clogging was caused by modifying quartz sand to form Si-O-Al(OH)n and improving microbes attachment. Microbes retention kinetic coefficients (k) of the Al recharged simulated aquifer could increase by 3.0-8.3 times. The Al(III) also enhanced biomass production and clogging by binding to microbial extracellular polymeric substances. In turn, the greater amount of biomass accelerated the Si dissolution and re-precipitation, this may potentially damage the stability of aquifer structure. The results showed that reclaimed water treated with Al coagulation should be employed with caution for recharging.