What is Electrocoagulation?

Mary McMahon

Electrocoagulation is a technique where an electrical current is applied to a sample to encourage coagulation of solids in the sample. There are two primary applications for this technique: surgery, and the treatment of wastewater and contaminated water. Companies involved in the production of electrocoagulation equipment include medical supply companies, wastewater treatment companies, and companies involved in environmental remediation.

Water treatment plants may use electrocoagulation to disinfect contaminated water.
Water treatment plants may use electrocoagulation to disinfect contaminated water.

In the case of medical applications, electrocoagulation is used to destroy damaged, diseased, or infected tissue. A probe is applied to the tissue in question and a current is applied, heating the tissue and leading to the breakup of cells and coagulation of solids. The tissue dies, and eventually sloughs off. One common application for this technique is in wart removal, and it can also be used for other types of surgical procedures.

One common application for electrocoagulation is wart removal.
One common application for electrocoagulation is wart removal.

If this technique is recommended to a patient, a surgeon will apply a local anesthetic to the area in question, carefully position the probe, and activate the current. This procedure can also be used under regional or general anesthesia, depending on the reason for the electrocoagulation. Special training is needed to learn how use this technique safely and effectively in medical settings and the equipment must be carefully maintained and inspected on a regular basis for safety. Companies selling such equipment also offer maintenance, accessories, and related services to their customers.

In water treatment, electrocoagulation involves passing a current through water to encourage solids to coagulate and settle out. The solids drift to the bottom, leaving clean water free of solids above. This water can be filtered off and further processed or released, depending on what was in the water in the first place. One advantage to electrocoagulation is that it provides a means for separating out solids without adding compounds to the water, and it works very quickly.

Wastewater treatment plants handling human waste, chemical waste, and runoff from factories can all use electrocoagulation in their water treatment. In addition, water in the natural environment with contaminants present can be treated with this technique as well. Researchers looking into new ways to handle environmental contamination are interested in developing new, safe techniques including methods that can safely be used in situ, as well as low cost methods with a low risk of introducing new contaminants or problems to the environment. Contaminated water is a problem worldwide and a number of governments, as well as private organizations, are working on the issue.

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