Emerging Trends in Drinking Water Purification Systems

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For the first part of this century, water purification systems were centered on chemical clarification, granular media filtration, and chlorination. As the needs for clean and safe drinking water increases, advanced technologies and methods are slowly but steadily penetrating the market.

The appearance of infrequent pollutants, new water quality standards, and cost [1], have driven the water purification industry towards the development and deployment of alternative technologies to ensure safe water supply.

Novel technologies must show advantages over conventional methods. Some of these advantages are lower capital and operating costs, higher efficiency, and easier operation, better effluent water quality, and minimal waste production [1].

As the needs for clean and safe drinking water increases, advanced technologies and methods are slowly but steadily penetrating the market. Membranes, UVC-LEDs, and IoT technology are some examples.

Membranes

Membranes have got consumer’s attention given their high efficiency in water treatment. The technology is widely used in water treatment and reclamation, wastewater treatment, and desalination applications, processing of wastewater from chemical, pharmaceutical, and other industries [2], but also in agricultural and domestic applications.

Membranes are barriers capable of separating two phases from each other by selectively obstructing the movements of components through it. The technology can be combined with other processes, such as coagulation or adsorption. These are called “hybrid” systems, and they are gaining interest in wastewater treatment facilities applications [2].

The schematic shown in Figure 2 depicts the different membrane processes, based on the different driving forces [2].

Figure 1: Scheme of some membrane processes[2]

Pressure driven processes are the most widely applied in wastewater and reclamation systems, from pre-treatment to post-treatment of wastewater [2]. There are four main types of these processes, shown in Figure 2, that differ from each other according to the required pressure to push the liquid through and the pore size. 

Figure 2: Membrane filtration technology pore size and retained contaminants[3].

From these pressure-driven processes, Reverse Osmosis is known for its high-efficiency in separating small particles. It is capable of reaching up to a 99.5% of separation efficiency for bacteria and monovalent ions, like sodium and chloride[2]. 

UVC-LEDs 

Ultraviolet Light (UV) technology is commonly used in point-of-use (POU) and point-of-entry systems (POE). These are commonly coupled with filtration systems in charge of removing chemical and organic pollutants, whereas the UV technology targets bacterial load, viruses and cysts. Some of the microorganisms targeted by UVC-LEDs are E. Coli, Pseudomonas, Legionella, Rotavirus, Adenovirus, Hepatitis and parasites such as cryptosporidium and giardia (beaver fever). 

The disinfection mechanism of UVC is shown in Figure 3. 

Figure 3: UV microorganism deactivation mechanism[4]

UV technology for water disinfection traditionally contained 20 – 200 milligrams of mercury, until health concerns around the effects of mercury in the body arose. Then, UVC-LEDs stood as the most suitable option, slowly replacing mercury containing lamps[5]. LEDs do not contain mercury, so the risk of water contamination is taken out of the picture.  

Unlike mercury lamps, which required about 5 – 10 minutes to reach disinfection temperatures, UV-LEDs have a start time of a few nanoseconds with no on/off limitations, allowing to get rid of the biologic load without affecting the taste, odour or clarity of water [6]. Besides, LEDs are known for consuming lower amount of energy, allowing disinfecting water with a small solar panel or batteries. 

IoT 

Lately, the introduction of smart systems has gained attention given that it allows real-time surveillance of processes in general, and water treatment is not an exception. IoT application goes from supply chain and water processes monitoring to household smart water filtration systems that tell consumers about their daily water intake. 

IoT technology allows interconnecting the different players involved in the supply chain by integrating their activities in a platform, allowing monitoring essential parameters that ensure the regular operations in the distribution network. This smart system is capable of giving detailed information about water quality, plant processes, and water supply in real-time from any remote location [7].  

The application of IoT in the production technology itself allows for design optimization and predictive maintenance, by monitoring all relevant operational pressures in real-time. This allows for more efficient and safer maintenance and operation, ensuring the quality of the end product at all times. 

Some of the benefits of the inclusion of a smart network within the water management field are shown in

Figure 4: Advantages of integrating a smart system into the water network[8]

IoT enables transparency to the processes in the water supply chain, as well as the ability to quickly address detected issues throughout the network. It also targets waste reduction and advances on water conservation strategies based on data analytics and predictive algorithms [9]. 

However, concern over water quality is not the only factor pushing the market forward. The evolution and expansion of the water treatment business are also seeing five major trends besides the technological perspective. 

Slimmer product profiles are gaining space in the market as residential living spaces become smaller. Some companies are offering water treatment devices no bigger than the span of your hand [10].  

Remineralisation is used to enhance the nutrients intake from water, but it also can alter the organoleptic properties of water, giving place to the commercialization of a variety of mineral- flavored waters to please the consumers taste, with health benefits. Also, some companies are taking advantage of this circumstance by offering smart home water systems that purify and remineralises water, but some other devices are even capable of providing cooled and carbonated water coming right out of your faucet[10]. 

Growing concern for water-borne illness stimulates the development and implementation of advanced methods for coliforms deactivation. The crescent incidence of bacteria like Escherichia coli is forcing treatment systems to deviate from NSF class A/B to revised ratings log 3-log E.Coli[10].  

Our BOSAQ membrane technology ensures high-quality and safe drinking water, free from pathogens and hazardous chemicals. Our solar PV fed drinking water production modules are packed with high-quality membranes, that revalorizes water from any source and turns it into a safe, clean and high- quality stream that will cover any application requirements. 

References 

[1] National Research Council, Identifying Future Drinking Water Contaminants. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1999. 

[2] E. Obotey Ezugbe and S. Rathilal, ‘Membrane Technologies in Wastewater Treatment: A Review’, ResearchGate. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341123899_Membrane_Technologies_in_Wastewater_Treatment_A_Review (accessed Sep. 08, 2020). 

[3] ‘Membranfiltrering’, AkvaFresh. https://www.akvafresh.no/en/membrane-filtration/ (accessed Sep. 08, 2020). 

[4] ‘Water Purification | Deep UV-LEDs | Products and Services’, NIKKISO CO., LTD. http://www.nikkiso.com/products/duv-led/application/water-treatment.html (accessed Sep. 09, 2020). 

[5] 2016 Apr 28, ‘How LEDs Will Change Water Purification -’, Environmental Protection. https://eponline.com/articles/2016/04/28/how-leds-will-change-water-purification.aspx (accessed Sep. 09, 2020). 

[6] ‘Water Disinfection – Klaran’. https://www.klaran.com/applications/water-disinfection (accessed Sep. 08, 2020). 

[7] B. Deb Majumder, A. Dey, and A. Majumdar, ‘Implementation of IoT in Water Purification and Distribution of Potable Water: An Industrial Case Study’, Social Science Research Network, Rochester, NY, SSRN Scholarly Paper ID 3526004, Jan. 2020. doi: 10.2139/ssrn.3526004. 

[8] ‘water_report_benefits.jpg (1200×630)’. http://www.libelium.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/water_report_benefits.jpg (accessed Sep. 09, 2020). 

[9] ‘Smart Water Management: IoT in Water Industry’, Digiteum, Oct. 24, 2019. https://www.digiteum.com/smart-water-management-iot (accessed Sep. 09, 2020). 

[10] ‘Five Trends in the Water Purifier Market Worth Paying Attention To’. https://www.wateronline.com/doc/five-trends-in-the-water-purifier-market-worth-paying-attention-to-0001 (accessed Sep. 08, 2020). 

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