Water Treatment

Written by Linda Alexander
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Water treatment plants could someday purify water with ultrasonic technology instead of harsh chemicals. The technology is still early in its development. But ceramic membrane filters might be used in place of chemicals, as it has been done in research studies recently.

Water treatment done this way might minimize the cost, increase safety, and help the problem of disposing the treatment chemicals. Membrane filters are networks of tiny channels separated by thin ceramic membranes, similar to honeycombs. When water flows through the channels, the membranes catch contaminants such as clay, iron oxide, bacteria, and viruses. However, over time the membranes become clogged and must be cleaned.

Continuous Filter Cleaning During Water Treatment

If using ultrasound for water treatment, plants wouldn't have to remove filters to clean them. The contaminants would be flushed away with a separate exhaust flow. If the ultrasound is allowed to run continuously, the filters might never get clogged in the first place.

More testing will help scientists figure out how ultrasound wears on different types of filters. They will also learn what frequencies work on different pollutants in the water. In time, ultrasonics may be the most popular, greenest form of treating water.

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