Polymer flocculants used in wastewater treatment are chemical substances whose molecules have high molar masses and are composed of a large number of repeating sub-units. There are both naturally occurring and synthetic flocculants that are commonly used in the treatment of wastewater for solids/water separation and settling and are commonly referred to as “clarifying agents”. They function by agglomerating particles which form large flocs that aid in settling or solids removal. Among naturally occurring flocculants are proteins, starches, cellulose, and latex. Synthetic flocculants usually based on a polyacrylamide or like substance are produced commercially on a very large scale. They possess a wide range of properties such as varying molecular weight and charge strength allowing for limitless variation that can meet specific needs for the waste stream being treated.
The three most common forms of flocculants used in wastewater treatment are “dry” (powder, crystal or bead), oil and water based “emulsions”, and low % solids “solutions”. To learn more about these three flocculants, read our next blog, 'Polymer Floccuants in Detail'.