Selenium Removal From Water

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Selenium Removal From Water

Selenium is a metalloid present in the Earth’s crust, often occurring in higher concentrations with sulphur containing minerals. Weathering of these minerals can lead to high selenium concentration in groundwater.

The mining and power production industries can produce wastewater high in selenium, along with the agricultural industry by the irrigation of selenium rich soils. Selenium can present in different chemical forms in water, typically selenate, selenite and organoselenium. Each of these have different toxicities and treatment requirements.

Selenium is also present in many foods, which is the main source of selenium intake for most people. The selenium content of foods is mainly dependent on the selenium content of soil for plants, and selenium content of feedstuff for livestock. Selenium is an essential element for human health, but high levels are associated with numerous diseases. The World Health Organisation uses 40 ppb as a guideline for the maximum selenium concentration of drinking water, but notes the majority of selenium intake is from food sources, and as such a limit on drinking water isn’t necessary in a lot of cases.

High selenium concentration in water is also toxic to the aquatic environment. Aquatic organisms are impacted by selenium which effects the aquatic environment’s food-web, leading to bio-accumulation and toxicity in larger species such as fish, amphibians and invertebrates. To address this, some countries have mandated a discharge limit of 5 ppb of selenium to surface water.

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Selenium Removal Technologies

Reducing the selenium concentration of wastewater can be difficult, with methods such as lime precipitation usually unable to remove selenate from a solution. Precipitation is a commonly used treatment method, but requires large chemical input and produces unstable sludge as a waste product. To reach a level of 5ppb, a combination of treatment technologies is usually required.

Clean TeQ Water is exploring the application of its proprietary technologies for selenium removal and conversion to a solid elemental selenium product. Contact us to discuss your selenium removal needs.

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