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POLYOX™ Nonionic Flocculant Polymers

Industrial Water Treatment

Water is the most broadly used material today in industrial processes. Whether it is used in the manufacturing of products or in the cooling of equipment used to manufacture products, water quality plays a critical role is just about any manufacturing process imaginable.  With so much being consumed and it being such a vital commodity, optimization of water for use, re-use, and disposal is critical to efficient industrial processes.

Water Treatment Flocculants

One of the key components for any water treatment solution are flocculants.  Prior to disinfection and filtration, treatment systems often require a flocculant. Flocculants are chemicals, typically organic polymers, that cause agglomeration of fine colloidal materials that are too small to be captured by a filter. This allows them to separate from the water and for the treatment system to remove them via filtration.  Flocculants are used in multiple applications but are especially important in pulp & paper, oil & gas, and mining applications.

Pulp & Paper

Oil & Gas


Paper is composed of many different components that must be combined to form uniform sheets with specified properties. Flocculants are used in paper plants to aid in the combination of fibers, fillers, and other additives used in paper manufacturing while improving overall waste water quality.

Water used in oil and gas production contains large amounts of suspended solids that can pass through filters. Sedimentation of these contaminants can take a large amount of time.  Flocculants are used to remove sedimentation so that large amounts of water can be treated faster making production more efficient.

Mining production streams are often filled with many different types of metal and minerals.  Treatment of the production stream to remove metals and minerals is essential in order to obtain pure products and increase the quality of wastewater.  Flocculants are used to ensure separation occurs as efficiently as possible.

POLYOX™ - Highly Efficient Flocculation

POLYOX™ Water Soluble Resins are polyethylene oxide polymers that are well suited for use as water treatment flocculants.  Large molecular weight grades of POLYOX™ adsorb onto colloidal materials such as silicas and clays to promote the agglomeration of high strength flocs that can be easily separated from water via filtration.  In addition, POLYOX™ exhibits a high affinity for pulps and fillers making it an excellent retention aid for paper manufacturing.

Flocculation Mechanism of POLYOX™

POLYOX™ adsorbs onto the surface of silica particles by forming hydrogen bonds between the ether oxygen of the polyethylene oxide and the hydroxyl groups on hydrated silica particles.  The hydrophilic nature of POLYOX™ leads to a competition between hydrogen bonding with water in bulk versus the surface hydrated layer of the oxide minerals.  This competing force leads to the formation of tails and loops on the surface of the silica particles that in turn hydrogen bond with other suspended solids causing the development of agglomerations or "flocs" that are large enough to be captured by a filter.

Flocculation Performance

The performance of POLYOX™ WSR 308 on suspended silica particles was investigated by evaluating the turbidity of a colloidal silica suspension after the addition of varying rates of POLYOX™ WSR 308.

Turbidity of Silica Suspension as a Function of POLYOX™ WSR 308 Concentration


As the graph above shows, flocculation of silica particles with POLYOX™ WSR 308 begins at 0.5 ppm and has a maximum effect at 2 ppm.  This is a much lower addition rate than the typical 10 ppm needed for other common flocculants, and reflects a 5- to 20-fold increase in relative efficiency.

The performance of POLYOX™ WSR 308 was also compared with commercially available cationic, anionic, and nonionic polyacrylamides (PAMS) that are used in water treatment applications.  Again the turbidity of a silica suspension was measured to determine the effectiveness of the added flocculant.

Performance of POLYOX™ WSR 308 (2 ppm) & Polyacrylamides (10 ppm)

The performance of POLYOX™ WSR 308 is much better than the performance of polyacrylamides.  Not only did POLYOX™ WSR 308 provide a much greater reduction in turbidity, but it did so at only 2 ppm as compared to 10 ppm for the PAMS.

Improve Flocculation Efficiency with POLYOX™

The investigation discussed above shows that POLYOX™ polymers are a more efficient flocculant than other common organic polymers like polyacrylamides.  Clarification of water with a high level siliceous contaminants can be dramatically enhanced by using POLYOX™ polymers while reducing the overall cost of the water treatment process.  In addition, due to the nonionic nature of POLYOX™ and the mechanism in which it flocculates, POLYOX™ polymers can be blended with other commercial flocculants to further enhance existing systems. For information on preparing solutions of POLYOX™, check out this video

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