4 Facts about Water Treatment

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                    Water treatment and purification are integral to the functioning of the modern world. Not only do people need clean water for drinking and washing, they also use water for a variety of industrial capacities. Because water is a finite resource, it must be recycled and reused, which means it must be cleaned after each use. Here are four facts about water treatment.

1. A Multi-step Process
Generally, water treatment consists of a beginning with coagulation, then moving on to sedimentation, then filtration and finally ending with disinfection. In coagulation, positively charged chemicals are mixed into the water, which neutralizes negatively charged particles, causing them to bind together into larger particles. Other chemicals are added to dissolve other compounds and particles. Then, the large particles are allowed time to separated out of the water and settle at the bottom of the treatment tank in the sedimentation step. After sedimentation occurs, the water is sent through a series of filters, such as charcoal or sand, to remove the dissolved compounds. Finally, disinfectants like chlorine are added to kill any lingering bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites.

2. Household Treatment
You can treat your household water yourself if you use well water, or to improve taste or remove otherwise harmless potential contaminants if someone has a compromised immune system. Typically, people will use either point-of-entry treatment systems, which treat water entering their homes, or point-of-service systems, which treat water before it is released through a tap. No matter which system you use, you must still make sure it performs the four-step process outlined previously. You may also choose to include a distillation system or water softener.

3. Chemical Treatment Options
A variety of chemical compounds can be used to treat and purify water, depending on the purpose for which the water will be used. For example, Michael Jusbasche and his chemical company produce sodium aluminate and aluminum sulfate, effective coagulant compounds and water softening agents. The types of tools and processes used in treating water differ by industry. For example, drinking water is often fluoridated to aid in tooth health, but if the water is treated with chlorine, the chlorine needs to be neutralized before it can be safe to drink. On the other hand, chlorine is a perfectly safe compound for keeping pool water clean.

4. Converting Saltwater to Freshwater
Saltwater purification is increasingly common, due to the rise in freshwater demand and corresponding shrinkage of freshwater sources. It can be a much more intensive process than freshwater treatment, however, as the water not only has to be traditionally treated but desalinated as well. This is necessary for both household and industrial water, as saline is unsafe for human consumption and salt and other minerals in seawater can be corrosive to various industrial systems. There are several processes available for treating seawater, including electrodialysis, vacuum distillation, and freeze-thaw. However, work still needs to be done to improve the cost-effectiveness and reduce the energy consumption of such methods.

There are many methods for treating water, each tailored to the use the water will be put toward. Without these treatment processes, water would not be safe to drink or use.

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