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“The minus approach is a groundbreaking philosophical concept in water treatment,” said Yongsheng Chen, the Bonnie W. and Charles W. Moorman IV Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “Its primary objective is to achieve these outcomes while minimizing the reliance on chemical treatments, which can give rise to various issues in the main water treatment stream.”
Chen and his student Elliot Reid, the primary author, presented the minus approach in the paper, “The Minus Approach Can Redefine the Standard of Practice of Drinking Water Treatment,” in the Environmental Science & Technology journal.
The minus approach physically separates emerging contaminants and disinfection byproducts from the main water treatment process using these already proven processes:
- Bank filtration withdraws water from naturally occurring or constructed banks like rivers or lakes. As the water travels through the layers of soil and gravel, it naturally filters out impurities, suspended particles, and certain microorganisms.
- Biofiltration uses biological processes to treat water by passing it through filter beds made of sand, gravel, or activated carbon that can support the growth of beneficial microorganisms, which in turn can remove contaminants.
- Adsorption occurs when an adsorbent material like activated carbon is used to trap contaminants.
- Membrane filtration uses a semi-permeable membrane to separate particles and impurities from the main treatment process.
The minus approach is intended to engage the water community in designing safer, more sustainable, and more intelligent systems. Because its technologies are already available and proven, the minus approach can be implemented immediately.
It can also integrate with artificial intelligence (AI) to improve filtration’s effectiveness. AI can aid process optimization, predictive maintenance, faulty detection and diagnosis, energy optimization, and decision-support systems. AI models have also been able to reliably predict the origin of different types of pollution in source water, and models have also successfully detected pipeline damage and microbial contamination, allowing for quick and efficient maintenance.
“This innovative philosophy seeks to revolutionize traditional water treatment practices by providing a more sustainable and environmentally friendly solution,” Chen said. “By reducing the reliance on chemical treatments, the minus approach mitigates the potential risks associated with the use of such chemicals, promoting a safer water supply for both human consumption and environmental protection.”
Elliot Reid et al, The Minus Approach Can Redefine the Standard of Practice of Drinking Water Treatment, Environmental Science & Technology (2023). DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.2c09389
New water treatment approach helps to avoid harmful chemicals (2023, September 11)
retrieved 12 September 2023
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