Specific power consumption and reduction of BOD, COD, TS, pH, and chemical elements were used to determine the treatment efficiency of Fe, graphite and Al electrodes with alum and wood ash as supporting electrolytes on the effluent from a Kraft pulp and paper mill in Kenya. Five sampling points were selected along mill's effluent treatment system: primary settling tank (SP1), first aerated lagoon (SP2), second aerated lagoon (SP3), stabilization pond (SP4), and at discharge point (SP5). Operating costs were also compared between treatments. Graphite electrodes combined with alum showed the lowest power consumption (0.5 to 3.9 mWh/m3), followed by Al and Fe. All the electrodes reduced color from a maximum of 3,200°H to the minimum local standard of 15°H. However Al electrode with alum was the most effective method for BOD and COD reduction by over 60% and 58.8% respectively and generated less sludge at all sampling points. The cost of treatment was lowest with graphite electrode (US$0.006 to 0.0008 per m3 of effluent), but highest with Al electrodes combined with wood ash (US$31.74 to 8.34 per m3). Further study is required for the effectiveness of increasing the concentration of wood ash leachate at higher concentration and current density.
Keywords: aluminum, electro-coagulation, graphite, iron, Kraft mill, wastewater