Treatment Options Available To Us

Primary treatment of municipal waste involving settling and retention removes very few viruses. Sedimentation effects some removal. Virus removal of up to 90 percent (which is a minimal removal efficiency) has been observed after the activated sludge step. Further physical-chemical treatment can result in large reductions of virus titer, coagulation being one of the most effective treatments achieving as much as 99.99 percent removal of virus suspended in water. If high pH (above 11) is maintained for long periods of time, 99.9 percent of the viruses can be removed.

Of all the halogens, chlorine at high doses (40 mg/1 for 10 min) is very effective, achieving 99.9 percent reduction. Lower doses (for example, 8 mg/ 1) result in no decrease in virus.

As a result of several studies, the following conclusions regarding viruses in sewage warrant consideration: (1) primary sewage treatment has little effect on enteric viruses; (2) secondary treatment with trickling filters removes only about 40 percent of the enteroviruses; (3) secondary treatment by activated sludge treatment effectively removes 90 percent to 98 percent of the viruses; and (4) chlorination of treated sewage effluents may reduce, but may not eliminate, the number of viruses present.

The current concept of disinfection is that the treatment must destroy or inactivate viruses as well as bacillary pathogens. Under this concept, the use of coliform counting as an indicator of the effectiveness of disinfection is open to severe criticism given that coliform organisms are easier to destroy than viruses by several orders of magnitude.

An important concept is that a single disinfectant may not be capable of purifying water to the desired degree. Also, it might not be practicable or cost effective. This has given rise to a variety of treatment combinations in series or in parallel. The analysis further indicates that the search for the perfect disinfectant for all situations is a sterile exercise. It has been estimated that in the United States only 60 percent of municipal waste effluent is disinfected prior to discharge and, in a number of cases, only on a seasonal basis. Coupling this fact with the demonstration that various sewage treatment processes achieve only partial removal of viruses leaves us with a substantial problem to resolve.


Electromagnetic Waves (EM) - Electromagnetic radiation is the propagation of energy through space by means of electric and magnetic fields that vary in time. Electromagnetic radiation may be specified in terms of frequency, vacuum wavelength, or photon energy. For water purification, EM waves up to the low end of the UV band will result in heating the water. (This includes infrared as well as most lasers.) In the visible range, some photochemical reactions such as dissociation and increased ionization may take place. At the higher frequencies, it will be necessary to have thin layers of water because the radiation will be absorbed in a relatively short distance. It should be noted that the conductivity and dielectric constant of materials are, in general, frequency dependent. In case of the dielectric constant, it decreases as 1/wavelength. Hence, the electromagnetic absorption will vary with the frequency of the applied field. There may be some anomalies in the absorption spectra in the vicinity of frequencies that could excite molecules. At those frequencies, the absorption could be unusually large. Ultraviolet radiation in the region between 0.2 ¡i to 0.3 n has germicidal properties. The peak germicidal wavelength is around 0.26 ¡i. This short UV is attenuated in air and, hence, the source must be very near the medium to be treated. The medium must be very thin as the UV will be attenuated in the medium as well. X-rays and gamma rays are high-energy photons and will tend to ionize most anything with which they collide. They could generate UV in air. At higher energies it is possible for the gamma rays to induce nuclear reactions by stripping protons or neutrons from nuclei. This could result in the production of isotopes and/or the production of new atoms.

Sound - A sound wave is an alteration in pressure, stress, particle displacement, particle velocity, or a combination of these that is propagated in an elastic medium. Sound waves, therefore, require a medium for transmission; that is, they may not be transmitted in a vacuum. The sound spectrum covers all possible frequencies. The average human ear responds to frequencies between 16 Hz and 16 kHz. Frequencies above 20 kHz are called ultrasonic frequencies. Sound waves in the 50-200 kHz range are used for cleaning and degreasing. In water purification applications, ultrasonic waves have been used to effect disintegration by cavitation and mixing of organic materials. The waves themselves have no germicidal effect but, when used with other treatment methods, can provide the necessary mixing and agitation for effective purification.

Electron Beams - The electron is the lightest stable elementary particle of matter known and carries a unit of negative charge. It is a constituent of all matter and can be found free in space. Under normal conditions, each chemical element has a nucleus consisting of a number of neutrons and protons, the latter equal in number to the atomic number of the element. Electrons are located in various orbits around the nucleus. The number of electrons is equal to the number of protons, and the atom is electrically neutral when viewed from a distance. The number of electrons that can occupy each orbit is governed by quantum mechanical selection rules. The binding energy between an electron and its nucleus varies with the orbit number, and in general the electrons with the shortest orbit are the most tightly bound. An electron can be made to jump from one orbit into another by giving it a quantum of energy. This energy quantum is



0. 109 x 10"31 kg


1.602 x 1014 Coulomb


, ..


fixed for any given transition and whether a transition will occur is again governed by selection rules. In other words, although an electron is given a quantum of energy sufficient to raise it to an adjacent higher state, it will not go up to that state if the transition is not permitted. In that case, it is theorized that if the electron absorbs the quantum, it will most probably go up to the excited state, remain there for a time allowed by the uncertainty principle, reradiate the quantum, and return to its original state. If an electron is given a sufficiently large quantum of energy, it will completely leave the atom. The electron will carry off as kinetic energy the difference between the input quantum and the energy required to ionize. The remaining atom will now become a positively charged ion, and the stripped electron will become a free electron. This electron may have sufficient energy when it leaves the atom (or it may acquire sufficient energy from an external field) to collide with another atom and strip it of an electron. This is the basis for electric discharge where free electrons are accelerated by an applied field and, as they collide with neutral atoms, generate additional free electrons. This process avalanches as the electrons approach the positive electrode. At the same time, the positively charged ions are accelerated toward the negative electrode. In a vacuum, when a voltage is applied between two electrodes, electrons will move from the cathode to the anode. Of course, in a vacuum there will be no avalanching effects. Electrons are emitted from the cathode by a number of mechanisms:

• Thermionic Emission - Because of. the nonzero temperature of the cathode, free electrons are continuously bouncing inside. Some of these have sufficient energy to overcome the work function of the material and can be found in the vicinity of the surface. The cathode may be heated to increase this emission. Also to enhance this effect, cathodes are usually made of, or coated with, a low work-function material such as thorium.

• Shottky Emission - This is also a thermionic type of emission except that in this case, the applied electric field effectively decreases the work function of the material, and more electrons can then escape.

• High Field Emission - In this case, the electric field is high enough to narrow the work-function barrier and allow electrons to escape by tunneling through the barrier.

• Photoemission - Electromagnetic radiation of energy can cause photoemission of electrons whose maximum energy is equal to or larger than the difference between the photon energy and the work function of the material.

• Secondary Emission - Electrons striking the surface of a cathode could cause the release of some electrons and, hence, a net amplification in the number of electrons. This principle is used in the construction of photomultipliers where light photons strike a photoemitting cathode releasing photoelectrons. These electrons are subsequently amplified striking a number of electrodes (called dynodes) before they are finally collected by the anode.

Electromagnetism - In a high-gradient magnetic separator, the force on a magnetized particle depends on the intensity of the magnetizing field and on the gradient of the field. When a particle is magnetized by an applied magnetic field, the particle develops an equal number of north and south poles. Hence, in a uniform field, a dipolar particle experiences a torque, but not a net tractive force. In order to develop a net tractive force, a field gradient is required; that is, the induced poles at the opposite ends of the particle must view different magnetic fields. In a simplified, one-dimensional case, the magnetomotive force on a particle is given by:

where ¡jl is the magnetic moment of the particle under field intensity, HdH/dx is the field gradient. The magnetic moment n is the product of the magnetization of the particle and its volume (/m = MV). And magnetization is the product of the particle susceptibility, x> and the field intensity, H. In water purification, this magnetic force may be used to separate magnetizable particles.

Direct and Alternating Currents - Electrolytic treatment is achieved when two different metal strips are dipped in water and a direct current is applied from a rectifier. The higher the voltage, the greater the force pushing electrons across the gap between the electrodes. If the water is pure, very few electrons cross the path between the electrodes. Impurities increase conductivity, hence decreasing the required voltage. Additionally, chemical reactions occur at both the cathode and the anode. The major reaction taking place at the cathode is the decomposition of water with the evolution of hydrogen gas. The anode reactions are oxidations by four major means: (1) oxidation of chloride to chlorine and hypochlorite, (2) formation of highly oxidative species such as ozone and peroxides, (3) direct oxidation by the anode, and (4) electrolysis of water to produce oxygen gas.


Electrolytic Treatment - A great deal of interest was generated in the United States prior to 1930 in electrolytic treatment of wastewater, but all plans were abandoned because of high cost and doubtful efficiency. Such systems were based on the production of hypochlorite from existing or added chloride in the wastewater system. A great deal of effort has been made in reevaluating such techniques. Reduction in Number of Viable Microorganisms by Adsorption onto the Electrodes - Protein and microorganism adsorption on electrodes with anodic potential has been documented. Microorganism adsorption on passive electrodes (in the absence of current) has been observed with subsequent electrochemical oxidation. This does not appear to be a major route for inactivation. Electrochemical Oxidation of the Microorganism Components at the Anode -Oxidation of various viruses due to oxidation at the surface of the working electrode has been indicated, although the peak voltage used in many experiments would not be sufficient for the generation of molecular or gaseous oxygen.

Destruction of the Microorganisms by Production of a Biocidal Chemical

Species - It has been shown that NaCl is not needed for effective operation in the destruction of microorganisms. Biocidal species such as CI, HO 0, CIO, and HOCI occur but have very low diffusion coefficients. Hence, if this phenomenon occurs, the probability is that organisms are destroyed at the electrode surface rather than in the bulk solution.

Destruction by Electric Field Effects - It has been observed that some organisms are killed in midstream without contact with the electrodes. The organisms were observed to oscillate in phase with the electric field. Hence, microorganism kill can also be ascribed to changes caused by changing electromotive forces resulting from the impressed AC.

Electromagnetic Separation - In the typical operation, a magnetized fine-particle seed (typically iron oxide) and a flocculent (typically aluminum sulfate) are added to the wastewater, prompting the formation of magnetic microflocs. The stream then flows through a canister packed with stainless steel wire and a magnetic field is applied. The stainless steel wool captures the floes by magnetic forces.

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