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Taking the chemicals out of water treatment

Existing water treatment processes each enjoy their own strengths and weaknesses. Combining these paves the way to an optimal integrated solution that can purify water without the need for chemical additives.
Taking the chemicals out of water treatment
There are a number of widespread techniques for treating water. These include filters made of special fibres, as well as the use of ultrasound and ultraviolet type-C (UV-C) radiation. Each of these approaches has key benefits and some drawbacks. An integrated approach can optimise the advantages of the three techniques while mitigating their disadvantages.

The EU-funded ‘Development of a chemical-free water treatment system through integrating UV-C, ultra sound and fibre filters’ (CHEM-FREE) project developed a process which both integrates and optimises, in both economic and ecological terms, three methods. This enables the treatment of different qualities of water without the need for chemicals.

The project developed and evaluated an integrated prototype for four specific applications: swimming pools, wastewater treatment for irrigation, fish farming and groundwater recharge. In addition, specifications for a patent for the integrated device were drawn up.

The validation of the technology was carried out both in the laboratory and in the field. Extensive tests revealed that the new system provided swimming pool water of reliable quality which complied with EU standards, though some improvements are still required, thereby removing the need for chlorine treatment.

When it came to irrigation water, the device achieved constant flow rates and high removal efficiencies, although it fell short of exacting Italian regulations regarding maximum concentrations of ammonium nitrogen and E. Coli. The technology succeeded in keeping recirculation fish ponds clear, enabling them to be loaded with additional fish populations. The system also complied with the maximum levels of chemical and microbial concentrations for groundwater recharge, but the filters sometimes clogged, calling for further refinements.

Overall, the CHEM-FREE system, as it stands, is promising for close-loop applications, but requires further development for flow-through processes. Fish farming applications are ready for commercialisation but the other applications require refinement before they too can be commercialised. The project identified potential partners for the industrialisation of the swimming pool treatment process.

CHEM-FREE carried out a market analysis and disseminated project results to relevant stakeholders. The partners also investigated the patenting of the technology.

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