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 What are Polymers and How Do They Work?

Revised 1/11/2000 by Ken Edwards, Jr.

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Wastewater treatment polymers are synthetic, organic flocculants that are used for clarification, thickening or dewatering applications. Three forms are available:

  • Nonionic polymers - exhibit neutral behavior in solution
  • Anionic polymers - attract positively charged ions in solution
  • Cationic polymers - attract negatively charged ions in solution

Polymer chains act to attract the fine particles suspended in a liquid, forming larger groups, called "flocs". If these flocs develop sufficient density, they will precipitate during settling, leaving behind a clear liquid. Alternatively low density flocs may be used to separate undesirable particulates from the water and be skimmed from the surface, leaving clear water behind. The nature of the target particles, the properties of the liquid, including pH, electrical conductivity, hardness, and added chemicals, will determine the most effective polymer type to use. If the water system is being treated microbially, after flocculation, the polymer needs to be non-toxic to the bacteria, and preferably, biodegradable.

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 The Polymer Market

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The chemical demand by water and wastewater treatment in the U. S. is predicted to grow five percent per year. Heretofore, this market has been dominated by the four largest water service companies: Betz/Dearborn, Calgon, Drew, and Nalco. These four companies controlled roughly 75% of the industrial market.

With the recent downturn in the economy, polymer users have become more cost conscious. As a result, companies that can offer competitively priced products, responsive service and stable representation have gained considerable business.

Alken-Murray Corporation has formed an alliance with Solutions Chemical Consultants to offer a complete line of powerful, concentrated, cost-effective synthetic polymers. This exciting product line is implemented with Dr. Syed Ali, a renowned expert in polymer applications. Since Dr. Ali is also a distributor of Alken-Murray's Alken Clear-Flo® and Alken Enz-Odor® product lines, he has extensive experience with successful interactions between polymers and bacteria.

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Polymer Applications

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Polymers present an efficient, time-saving and safe chemical solution to the problems that modern industry faces in operating under ever tightening environmental restrictions. In certain municipal and industrial waste treatment situations, they perform in tandem with bacterial formulas. Some of the possible applications follow:

1. Influent water clarification
2. Sludge dewatering
3. Oil reclamation
4. Air flotation
5. Air scrubbers in steel, aluminum and other industries
6. Wastewater clarification
7. Metal plating waste thickening
8. Juice clarification
9. Dye removal


Polymer Market || Industry vs. Applications || Standard Jar Test || Polymer Dilution || Emulsion Breaking Solution || Buchner Funnel Test || Operational Tips || AS A3025L || AS A3040L || AS A3050L || AS A4040L ||  AS C111K || AS C133K || AS C186K || AS C187K || AS C189K || AS C193K || AS N3100L ||

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