Water Treatment Technologies Project

ECIV 551 Elements of Water and Wastewater Treatment

December 7, 2016

Caroline Haggard
Zane McGhee
Tim Ross


The global water crisis has been a major political, economic, and environmental issue
for decades. As water inequity continues to grow, today’s society often turns to more creative
water treatment technologies, especially in underdeveloped regions. In order to provide a
useful context for these water treatment technologies, it is essential to understand the technical
workings of the system or technology in question and its comparative advantages and
disadvantages to other competitive water treatment technologies. Herein is provided technical
summaries of three different disinfection technologies, with special emphasis on the New Life
International Chlorine Generator. Coliform testing was performed on water treated with the New
Life system and is included in this report. An accompanying training presentation for the New
Life system for future interested parties was also prepared.

The Global Water Crisis
The current water crisis is considered to be the top global risk to today’s society. It’s a
widely known fact that millions of people around the world do not have access to enough
readily available clean water. But what is the global water crisis? Current statistics provide a
dismal snapshot of the world’s water situation:

● 2 billion people worldwide lack access to clean water
● 1 billion people worldwide do not have enough water to meet daily needs
● 6.6 million children under the age of five die each year due partly to lack of clean water and sanitation
● 93% of those without proper sanitation live in Asia or Africa, and the total number has been increasing
for four decades
● A third of schools worldwide, as well as a third of healthcare facilities in low or middle income countries,
have access to safe water

Naturally, a lack of access to clean, safe water leads to poor sanitation, further
exacerbating the health issues associated with unclean water. Improved sanitation is critical to
many aspects of human development. Most of the population who needs better access to
clean water struggles financially and lives in low-income, developing countries. It is important to
note the difference between economic scarcity and physical scarcity: while some regions, such
as arid or semi-arid climates, do not
physically have enough water, there is
enough water on the planet to meet the
current global population’s needs. In some
regions, however, clean water is simply too
expensive. And while this lack of access
stems partly from low incomes, it also is a
product of poor public infrastructure.
Some of the key goals of improving
global sanitation and water access include
conserving water resources, improving
drinking water supply, and improving
transboundary cooperation among
neighboring populations. This report will
focus on the comparative advantages and disadvantages of various drinking water disinfection
methods designed for use in developing regions without easy access to clean, safe drinking

Water Treatment Methods

Ultraviolet Disinfection

There are multiple different methods of water disinfection such as heating, chlorination,
and ozone. The use of ultraviolet (UV) light as a method of disinfection is not as common as
other methods but has been used quite successfully in many situations. The two main types of
UV disinfection application are through fluorescent type mercury lamps and through Light
Emitting Diodes (LED). According to Kai Song in Application of (UV-LEDs) for water
disinfection, “ultraviolet light-emitting diode (UV-LED) [have] emerged in the past decade with a
number of advantages compared to traditional UV mercury lamps” (Song et al). UV LED’s have
only been available since the early 2000’s, and have not been as rigorously tested as the
mercury lamps for use in water disinfection.
The process of UV disinfection is fairly straightforward. The water passes underneath a
lamp emitting UV light at the optimal wavelength of 254nm. UV-LED systems have been tested
at higher wavelengths due to the high cost of purchasing 254 nm LED’s. UV wavelengths can
be varied to increase efficiency. When the water passes through the UV light the DNA of the
microorganism’s cells are disrupted which prevents reproduction (Edstrom Industries Inc). The
system is designed such that water receives enough contact time with the light to ensure a
certain degree of removal.
UV disinfection is attractive because it does not introduce chemicals into the water that
may leave an adverse taste to the water after treatment. In certain underdeveloped regions of
the world the addition of chemicals such as chlorine is not accepted and even treated water
may not be used as drinking water. In a UV disinfection system there is no risk of certain
bacteria becoming resistant to the disinfectant being applied to the system.
There are some issues with UV disinfection that have to be addressed in order to
maintain an effective system. There is no residual left in the water after treatment so it is
difficult to determine if microorganisms have returned to the water post treatment. A guard
against this is to treat pipes downstream of treatment with chemical disinfectants occasionally.
UV system efficiency is also affected by any turbidity in the water. When the water is turbid the
light is not able to reach all microorganisms throughout the water. Another issue is the use of
mercury lamps for UV light. These lamps are not incredibly energy efficient with a “wall plug
efficiency of around 15-35%” (Song et al). They also require special attention when they are
disposed of due to their mercury content.
Looking at UV disinfection as a key technology to be used for water treatment in in
underdeveloped regions of the world, it has some merits but also some points that need to be
researched and developed. In 2003 the United States Environmental Protection Agency
(USEPA) Introduced the UV Disinfection Guidance Manual (UVDGM) (Cotton). This manual is
intended for the installation of surface water UV disinfection systems in the United States but
could be a useful guideline for installations outside of the United States. This technology would
currently be feasible with a constant power source, the use of mercury lamps, and a properly
maintained distribution system. Unfortunately these factors are not typically available in
underdeveloped regions. The use of UV-LED technology has the potential to correct some of
these issues in the future. According to Kai Song “It is predicted that by 2020, UV-LEDs will
operate at 75% wall plug efficiency with a lifetime longer than 100,000 h” (Song et al). LED’s
typically have a higher energy efficient and could potentially be paired with solar or wind power
for applications in underdeveloped regions. In this system an external power source would not
be required and the harmful effects of mercury would not be present.

Ultrafiltration is another type of water disinfection process that can be used in
developing countries. Ultrafiltration has been studied extensively for both drinking and
wastewater applications. Typically filtration and disinfection are separate parts of the water
treatment process. In an ultrafiltration system a membrane is used to filter out the bacteria and
viruses present in the water. The size of the pores in the membrane can go down to 0.01
microns (Safe Drinking Water Foundation). Pores of this size do not allow bacteria or most
viruses to pass through. Water passes through the membranes by way of a pressure
differential between the sides of the membrane. This process would still need to be preceded
by some type of filtration unless the source was a groundwater with low suspended solids
This process is attractive because it does not introduce any chemicals into the
disinfected water. For some developing regions, chemical additives are a concern for the local
people drinking the treated water. The typical residuals that are present in water can be a
concern for the people it is intended for. Ultrafiltration does not leave these residuals so it is
easier to introduce to a community. The concern with no residual is that if a distribution system
is used, additional contamination could occur post treatment. According to Alessia Di Zio in
their paper Disinfection of Surface Waters with UF Membrane, ultrafiltration also provides a
“constant production and water quality, independent of feed water quality” (Zio). This is due to
the membrane having a constant area for water to pass through and the pores are sized to
keep out most particulate.
The maintenance of an ultrafiltration system may be its largest drawback. It acts in the
same manner as a filter so it is necessary to backwash the system periodically to remove the
buildup of particles. As the system is used more and more particles are present on the
membrane surface and as these particles build up, the pressure required to run the water
through the system increases. The higher pressure leads to higher energy consumption while
the system is running.
Overall ultrafiltration is very effective at disinfection. One system that currently uses
ultrafiltration in developing countries is the SunSpring Hybrid produced by Innovative Water
Technologies. This system has seen positive reviews from the field and has a lifespan of
approximately 10 years. This design life is based on when the membrane will wear out. The
Sunspring Hybrid has shown that ultrafiltration can be used in developing countries because it
has been paired with wind and solar power to function completely by itself. The question to be
asked when installing a system like this is what type of membrane to use. Certain membranes
may work better with higher microbiological content in the water and some may work better
with higher solids content. Knowing what is present in the water to be treated is a must.

Chlorine Disinfection - New Life International Chlorine Generator
Water is one of the most abundant resources on Earth. The world is covered by nearly
¾ water, however less than 3% of that water is “fresh water” and even less is considered
potable water, safe for human ingestion. Here in the US, government regulations ensure that a
dependable source of potable water is provided to the public, but in many other parts of the
world, this is simply not possible. Remote communities often have to depend on runoff creeks
and stagnant ponds as their only source of water. This water is often full of microorganisms,
viruses and bacteria harmful to human life, particularly to the elderly and infants. There are
many different methods available to remove these harmful particles from these types of
contaminations, but the remote locations of many of these communities limit the types of
technologies that are feasible for these types of situations. The various requirements of one of
these systems can be, but not limited to:
● Portability
● Able to produce potable water on a small community scale
● Able to be constructed and operated with a minimal amount of training
● Durability/Dependability
● Availability of maintenance materials
● Ease of disposal of waste materials

The New Life International Chlorinator System is a portable water purification device
designed for use in areas of the world where water safe for human consumption is not
available. It is a modular system designed for ease of transportation into remote areas by
easily fitting into a backpack, and installed and maintained with a minimal amount of training.
The most efficient power source is a 12 volt marine deep cell battery with a solar trickle charger
to recharge the battery. In conjunction with battery, the only other materials that are that are
needed are common table salt, easily found in even the most remote of areas, water and a
large storage tank. The generator utilizes a chemical process known as electrolysis,
introducing DC current through two electrodes into an electrolyte solution to separate its
chemical bonds in the reaction:
2 NaCl + 2 H2O → 2 NaOH + H2 + Cl2

In this system, the electrolysis of sodium chloride, NaCl (s), in an aqueous solution produces
chlorine, Cl (g), which is dispersed into the raw water, sodium hydroxide, NaOH (l), which a
small amount is reused to help drive the reaction, while the rest can be used to treat pit latrines
common in these communities, as well as to make soap, and hydrogen, H (g), which is
released to the atmosphere, thus there are no waste materials to dispose of. The New Life
System can produce up to 1400 gallons of chlorinated water in a four hour period which can be
used to treat up to 14,000 gallons of untreated water, depending on its level of contamination,
before needing to have the saltwater concentration replenished.
Electrolysis is a technology that has been proven dependable, first being employed in
the 1780’s, ensuring its reliability as a treatment option, and its low daily operational cost make
it an excellent candidate for these types of treatment facilities. And table salt is a ready
available resource in almost all communities. However, chlorine generators depend on a raw
water source with a low water turbidity, preferably <0.5 NTU. The higher the turbidity level of
the raw water, the less effective the operation of the generator. In cases with higher turbidity,
the raw water may need to be pre-treated, either by filter or sedimentation tank, for maximum
efficiency. Also, due to the toxicity of chlorine gas, the system needs to be operated in a well
ventilated area. Another drawback of these types of systems are the high initial costs. Although
the New Life International Chlorinator is available only through donation, similar types of
systems can cost several thousands of dollars, more than most of these communities could
ever afford on their own. A final drawback can be the taste of the residual chlorine. Many would
rather take their chances with the untreated water than drink treated water with a chemical
taste, so treated water may need additional time for the residual chlorine levels to drop down
before a community is willing to accept it for consumption.
The New Life International Chlorinator kit comes with everything a community would
need to begin to produce treated water within minutes of its arrival, except for the 12 volt power
source needed for the reaction and the raw water. A binder is included with simple to follow
illustrated instructions comes with the kit, as well as being available online in a variety of
languages. The chlorinator can be assembled and producing treated water in as little as 30
minutes. Remove the kit from the storage container. Wrap the threads of the 1 ½”sodium
hydroxide tube with Teflon tape, included, and screw into the 1 ½” side of the generator.
Repeat this procedure for the 2” Chlorine tube. Connect the tubing from each side of the
generator to the tops of the tubes. Using the quick connect couplers, connect the heat
exchanger to the venturi/test port assembly, then connect the hoses to the influent and effluent
sources. Fill the salt cup with salt and add to 250 ml test container of warm water, and pour into
chlorine side of generator. Add more water as needed, then screw the cap on top. Pour the
NaOH solution into sodium hydroxide side and add more water as needed (if you have no
NaOH, warm water with a pinch of salt will work). Install the heat exchanger into the sodium
hydroxide side of the generator making sure to hang the generator with the sodium hydroxide
side higher than the chlorine side to increase its efficiency. After ensuring the test valves are
closed, turn on the influent water source and watch for bubbles to begin to appear in the
chlorine tube. Then connect the battery, red lead to positive first then black to negative, to
reduce chance of spark. After allowing to operate for approximately 10 minutes, test the
effluent at the test port for a chlorine reading of 5 to 10 PPM to ensure the generator is
operating properly. Retest the effluent every hour after until the Cl level of the effluent drops to
below 5PPM. Then disconnect the battery and turn off the influent water source. Take the tubes
loose from the top of the containers and drain them into containers for recycling and/ or
disposal. Disconnect influent/effluent hoses their sources, then from the heat exchanger and
venturi assembly. Rinse out the generator and tubes with fresh water and place back into
storage container and connect the battery to its charging source. Test the finished water one
hour after it has been treated for a residual chlorine level between 2 to 5 PPM to ensure the
water has been completely decontaminated, otherwise the water will need undergo the process
a second time to ensure the destruction of all of its biological contaminants.
Comparative Advantages and Disadvantages
Because every water supply and treatment situation is unique, not all methods are
suitable for all applications. There are also special considerations to be taken into account
when choosing a water treatment method for underdeveloped regions. These regions often
don’t have reliable power sources or special materials readily available. It is best if units are
portable, compact, or otherwise don’t require extensive permanent assembly so they can be
easily transported or moved to the appropriate site. Low-maintenance systems are preferred to
ensure ease and longevity of operation. Many water distribution systems in underdeveloped
regions are unreliable. For this reason, a method that produces residuals, such as the NLI
chlorine generator, is well-suited because it can combat contamination post-treatment within
the distribution system. However, the residents of these regions most likely are not accustomed
to the taste of water treated with chlorine, which has historically caused them to be less
inclined to use the water.
Below is included comparisons of the relative advantages and disadvantages of the three
methods listed above, as well as a recommendation as to the suitability of each for use in
underdeveloped regions. Of these three, chlorine disinfection using the NLI system appears to
be the best choice for most underdeveloped regions.

Ultraviolet Light Disinfection

Advantages Disadvantages

Doesn’t use chemicals LED lamps can be expensive

Bacteria won’t become resistant No residual - difficult to test post-treatment

Hindered by turbidity

Mercury lamps require special disposal
and are inefficient

Requires external power source

Suitability for underdeveloped regions: Not currently suitable for most applications


Advantages Disadvantages
Extensive studies performed No residuals

Combines disinfection with filtration for Membranes must be backwashed and
low suspended solids concentrations replaced periodically

No chemicals Requires external power source

Produces consistent water quality

Suitability for underdeveloped regions: Suitable in some applications

Chlorine Disinfection- NLI
Advantages Disadvantages

Portable Treated water has chemical taste

Battery-operated Hindered by turbidity

Low operational costs - uses table salt to Requires careful operation because of
produce chlorine chlorine produced

Produces residuals

Easy assembly

Suitability for underdeveloped regions: Suitable in most applications

New Life International Chlorine Generator Testing
Test Procedures
New Life International states that the treated water that is produced from their chlorine
generator can disinfect up to 14,400 gallons of raw water in 5 hours. To test these results, raw
water samples were taken from Rocky Branch Creek, located behind 300 Main St, Columbia,
SC, home to the USC Civil and Environmental Engineering School. Raw water was pumped
through the New Life International chlorinator at a rate of 6 GPM and collected in a storage
container. Raw water was collected in a second storage container. Water samples were
collected at 1:1, 3:1, 5:1, 7:1, and 10:1 raw:treated ratios. A control raw and a pure treated
sample were also taken. These samples were tested for biological growth by saturating
biological culture slides in the various ratios of treated water, then placing them in an incubator
for 24 hours. The slides were then removed and visually observed for bacterial growth.
Test Results
It was discovered that the pump that is included in the kit is incapable of drawing water
from a distance or up an incline, so a more powerful pump had to be used to collect the
samples. The two control slides showed an excess of more 500 bacterial colonies had begun
to grow in the 24 hour incubation period. All of the slides with ratios of raw:treated water had
zero bacterial growth in the 24 hour incubation period. Pictures are included to display these
Figure 1. Control culture Figure 2. Control culture

Figure 3. 1:1 ratio culture Figure 4. 3:1 ratio culture

Figure 5. 5:1 ratio culture Figure 6. 7:1 ratio culture

Figure 7. 10:1 ratio culture Figure 8. Pure treated culture
The tests performed at USC prove that the New Life International Chlorination system is an
effective water disinfection system. It is capable of producing more than 14000 gallons of
potable water in approximately 5 hours and is lightweight and portable enough to be
transported. The only drawback with the system itself is the included pump lacks the power to
transfer the water to the treatment system from any type of distance or incline.

Cotton, Christine and Laurel Passantino. “Regulations in the United States: requirements and
guidance for ultraviolet disinfection of drinking water.” Journal of Environmental
Engineering and Science. Vol. 4. 2005. Web. 15 Oct. 2016.
Edstrom Industries Inc. “Ultraviolet Disinfection” Waterford, WI. Web. 15 Oct. 2016

“Facts About Water and Sanitation.” Water.org. Web. 5 Dec. 2016.

"Independent Test Results." New Life International. Pentair Water, n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2016.
Safe Drinking Water Foundation. “Ultrafiltration, Nanofiltration and Reverse Osmosis.”
www.safewater.org. Web. 5 Dec. 2016.

Satterthwaite, David and Gordon McGranahan. “Human Development Report 2006.”
Human Development Report Office. Web. 2006.

Song, Kai et al. “Application of ultraviolet light-emitting diodes UV-LEDs) for water
disinfection.” The University of British Columbia. Vancouver, BC. 2016. Web. 15 Oct.

“Water Crisis.” World Water Council. Web. 5 Dec. 2016.
“World’s Biggest Problems: Global Water Crisis.” Arlington Institute. Web. 5 Dec. 2016

Zio, Alessia Di et al. “Disinfection of Surface Waters with UF Membrane.” Universitia dell
Aquila. L’Aquila, Italy. 2004. Web. 5 Dec. 2016.