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There are a few physical means of treating water, mainly boiling and filtration.
Boiling is the most conventional way to disinfect water, while filtration process has been performed as early as 2000 BC. Filtration process incorporates screen of various pore sizes which only allow particles of a certain size to pass through. Particles larger than the pore size in the screens will be trapped and the water that passes through will be removed of these contamination.
Boiling is the most common method used to purify water. The increase in temperature destroys/inactivates most pathogens, leaving a water that is biologically safe to consume. Certain pathogens however, can form protective layer when subjected to heat, allowing them to thrive in less favorable environment.
Sand bed filters is a very common setup found in rural places as it can be easily built using on the site materials. The filter work by trapping larger solid particles that are unable to pass through the pores of the sand bed thus purifying the water. However, it is possible that the filtered water is not consistent in quality.
The typical pore size for MF is usually ranges less than 1 micrometer (µm) (1µm = 0.000001m) and it is typically used to remove bacteria and sediments.
The typical pore size for UF is around 0.01 micrometre (µm) (1µm = 0.000001m). The small pores are capable of trapping even virus.
The typical pore size for NF is 0.001 micrometre (µm) (1µm = 0.000001m) and is usually used to remove multivalent ions. This process is also commonly utilized in seawater desalination process.
reverse osmosis (RO)
RO is a form of water purification technology that uses a semi-permeable membrane to remove particles from water. Although it can remove all contaminants (including organics and salt ions), the energy required is considerably huge.
There are a few chemical means of treating water, they include the use of activated carbon, chlorine and alum.
Activated carbon is effective in removal of organic contaminants and is used to treat odor and color.
Chlorination is a common disinfection method.
Alum is used to coagulate smaller particles into larger flocs which is then removed through physical means.
Activated carbon is carbon that have been processed to have a higher surface area for contaminants to bind on to. These sites are effective at adsorbing organics. Activated carbon filter is typically used after mechanical filtration method to remove existing compounds that cause odour and color.
Chlorination is a disinfection process where chlorine or hypochlorite is added to water. Chlorine induces oxidation reaction when in contact with pathogens in water, killing most of the pathogens in the process.
Alum can be utilized to make minute size contaminants lump together, allowing easier removal through mechanical filtration.
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