What is physical-chemical treatment of water and wastewater? The dictionary defines physical as having material existence and subject to the laws of nature. Chemical, on the other hand, is defined as used in, or produced by chemistry. Being used in and produced by chemistry implies a material existence and is subject to the laws of nature. Thus, from these definitions, chemical is physical. The fact that chemical is physical has not, however, answered the question posed.
To explore the question further, we go to the definition of chemistry. Chemistry is defined as the branch of science that deals with the composition, structure, and properties of substances and the transformation that they undergo. Now, from this definition can be gleaned the distinguishing feature of chemical—the transformation that the substance undergoes. The transformation changes the original substance into an entirely different substance after the transformation. Chemical transformation can be distinguished from physical transformation. In physical transformation, although also involving a change, the change is only in appearance but not in substance. For example, FeO in the beginning is still FeO in the end; the size of the particles may have changed, however, during the process. We now define physical treatment of water and wastewater as a process applied to water and wastewater in which no chemical changes occur. We also define chemical treatment of water and wastewater as a process applied to water and wastewater in which chemical changes occur. Gleaning from these definitions of physical and chemical treatments, in the overall sense, physical-chemical treatment of water and wastewater is a process applied to water and wastewater in which chemical changes may or may not occur.
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