Electrochemical wastewater disinfection: Identification of its principal germicidal actions

X. Y. Li*, H. F. Diao, F. X.J. Fan, J. D. Gu, F. Ding, A. S.F. Tong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Laboratory experiments were carried out to investigate the mechanisms of electrochemical (EC) wastewater disinfection. Artificial wastewater contaminated by Escherichia coli (E. coli) culture, and which contained different salts of NaCl, Na2SO4, and NaNO3, was used as the test medium. The experimental results do not favor the hypotheses that the EC bactericidal action was due to cell destruction by the electric field and the production of persulfate. In comparison to direct chlorination, the EC process displayed a much stronger disinfecting capability than that of electrochlorination assumed for EC disinfection. Observations with scanning electron microscopy on the E. coli bacteria of wastewater treated by different means of disinfection suggested that the cells were likely killed during the EC treatment by chemical products with oxidizing and germicidal powers similar to that of ozone and much stronger than that of chlorine. All of the findings support the theory that the major killing function of EC disinfection is provided by short-lived and high-energy intermediate EC products, such as free radicals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1217-1221
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Environmental Engineering (United States)
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Chlorination
  • Disinfection
  • Ozonization
  • Wastewater treatment


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