To clean the filter, water is passed quickly upward through the filter, opposite the normal direction (called backflushing or backwashing) to remove embedded or unwanted particles. Prior to this step, compressed air may be blown up through the bottom of the filter to break up the compacted filter media to aid the backwashing process; this is known as air scouring. This contaminated water can be disposed of, along with the sludge from the sedimentation basin, or it can be recycled by mixing with the raw water entering the plant although this is often considered poor practice since it re-introduces an elevated concentration of bacteria into the raw water.
The most common type of filter is a rapid sand filter. Water moves vertically through sand which often has a layer of activated carbon or anthracite coal above the sand. The top layer removes organic compounds, which contribute to taste and odour. The space between sand particles is larger than the smallest suspended particles, so simple filtration is not enough. Most particles pass through surface layers but are trapped in pore spaces or adhere to sand particles. Effective filtration extends into the depth of the filter. This property of the filter is key to its operation: if the top layer of sand were to block all the particles, the filter would quickly clog.
When particles to be removed do not settle out of solution easily, dissolved air flotation (DAF) is often used. After coagulation and flocculation processes, water flows to DAF tanks where air diffusers on the tank bottom create fine bubbles that attach to floc resulting in a floating mass of concentrated floc. The floating floc blanket is removed from the surface and clarified water is withdrawn from the bottom of the DAF tank. Water supplies that are particularly vulnerable to unicellular algae blooms and supplies with low turbidity and high colour often employ DAF.:9.46
The tourist season got off to a grisly start this year in Gulf Shores, Ala. During a two-day period in early June, four men drowned after being caught in rip currents. The unusually strong currents were invisible, not even roiling the surface. Rip currents occur when water rushing back from the shoreline is channeled through a narrow gap between two sand bars, accelerating the outward flow.
The clarified water is then fed through a high-pressure piston pump into a series of vessels where it is subject to reverse osmosis. The product water is free of 90.00–99.98% of the raw water's total dissolved solids and by military standards, should have no more than 1000–1500 parts per million by measure of electrical conductivity. It is then disinfected with chlorine and stored for later use.
Information from Aquamira: "One unit will filter up to 20 gallons (75L) of water. Tests indicate that the Frontier Filter will remove 99.9% of Cryptosporidium and Giardia. The Frontier Emergency Water Filter System is also easy to operate, just attach and expand the straw, submerge the filter end into the water source, and drink through the straw."
Bioremediation is a technique that uses microorganisms in order to remove or extract certain waste products from a contaminated area. Since 1991 bioremediation has been a suggested tactic to remove impurities from water such as alkanes, perchlorates, and metals. The treatment of ground and surface water, through bioremediation, with respect to perchlorate and chloride compounds, has seen success as perchlorate compounds are highly soluble making it difficult to remove. Such success by use of Dechloromonas agitata strain CKB include field studies conducted in Maryland and the Southwest region of the United States. Although a bioremediation technique may be successful, implementation is not feasible as there is still much to be studied regarding rates and after effects of microbial activity as well as producing a large scale implementation method.
Slow sand filters may be used where there is sufficient land and space, as the water flows very slowly through the filters. These filters rely on biological treatment processes for their action rather than physical filtration. They are carefully constructed using graded layers of sand, with the coarsest sand, along with some gravel, at the bottom and finest sand at the top. Drains at the base convey treated water away for disinfection. Filtration depends on the development of a thin biological layer, called the zoogleal layer or Schmutzdecke, on the surface of the filter. An effective slow sand filter may remain in service for many weeks or even months, if the pretreatment is well designed, and produces water with a very low available nutrient level which physical methods of treatment rarely achieve. Very low nutrient levels allow water to be safely sent through distribution systems with very low disinfectant levels, thereby reducing consumer irritation over offensive levels of chlorine and chlorine by-products. Slow sand filters are not backwashed; they are maintained by having the top layer of sand scraped off when flow is eventually obstructed by biological growth.
The Lifestraw go simplifies water purification by allowing users to scoop water from a river or other unsafe water source into the bottle, screw the lid on, and sip clean water through the mouthpiece. We have not had the opportunity to test the Lifestraw go. We would be interested in comparing it to the Sawyer Personal Water Bottle. Our next post will be a test of the Sawyer bottle.
In the literature, there is much debate and confusion over the usage of the terms coagulation and flocculation: Where does coagulation end and flocculation begin? In water purification plants, there is usually a high energy, rapid mix unit process (detention time in seconds) whereby the coagulant chemicals are added followed by flocculation basins (detention times range from 15 to 45 minutes) where low energy inputs turn large paddles or other gentle mixing devices to enhance the formation of floc. In fact, coagulation and flocculation processes are ongoing once the metal salt coagulants are added.:74–5
Reverse osmosis (RO) is a water purification process that uses a partially permeable membrane to remove ions, unwanted molecules and larger particles from drinking water. In reverse osmosis, an applied pressure is used to overcome osmotic pressure, a colligative property that is driven by chemical potential differences of the solvent, a thermodynamic parameter. Reverse osmosis can remove many types of dissolved and suspended chemical species as well as biological ones (principally bacteria) from water, and is used in both industrial processes and the production of potable water. The result is that the solute is retained on the pressurized side of the membrane and the pure solvent is allowed to pass to the other side. To be "selective", this membrane should not allow large molecules or ions through the pores (holes), but should allow smaller components of the solution (such as solvent molecules, i.e., water, H2O) to pass freely.