Natural treatment and engineered processes in water purification

Natural treatment and engineered processes in water purification

Avi Aharoni Water Quality Unit


In 2015 Mekorot joined a group of 30 European and Israeli industries and academic and research institutions who jointly responded to a European Commission call for proposals.
In December 2015, the European Union notified the group that its proposal had been accepted and the group would be receiving funding to the approximate amount of 700 thousand Euros (exclusive of EU funding) over a period of 3 years.
Notably, the group's proposal submitted to the Water B1 track was one of the very few short-listed submissions awarded a grant. Of the 172 submissions from around the world, 49 made it to the second stage and only 8 were awarded a grant.
Defining the problem:
The global surge in water scarcity and a growing concern for maintaining the quality of water sources are raising the need for cost-effective technologies for reclaiming wastewater for use in: agriculture, industry, urban applications, rehabilitating aquifers, and even indirect potable reuse (InPR) and direct potable reuse (DPR).
Such technologies can be highly practicable in the right conditions and where land is readily available, such as in southern Europe, Africa, Australia, and certain areas in the USA. The world is progressing toward technologies that can produce treated wastewater of sufficient quality for direct or indirect potable reuse. This level of purification naturally requires putting in place statutory regulations for removal of micropollutants. Israel has yet to achieve these levels, but it is unquestionably crucial for it to establish the necessary regulatory groundwork.
Our research groups split up into teams, and each examined a technological combination that was compatible with the goals of all the other groups. In this study Mekorot partnered with WADIS, an Israeli startup, which proposed using electrical pulses in the advanced oxidation stage, as an alternative to ozonation (supplied by Xylem Germany, another participant). This study will be conducted using SHAFDAN treated wastewater.
Study goals:
Overall goal: Demonstrate improved advanced technologies for reclaiming wastewater for agriculture.
Study goals:
1. Develop a pretreatment process: biofilter for removing oxygen-consuming substances from the treated wastewater, advanced oxidation by ozonation (to improve biodegradability), and recirculating portions of the treated wastewater into the biofilter to achieve greater efficiency in breakdown of organic matter. A parallel arm of this study will investigate advanced oxidation by electrical pulses to be supplied by WADIS.
2. Parallel transmission of effluent following pretreatment over to two technologies for supplementary treatment, with the goal of achieving InPR quality:
2.1 Brief injection by soil aquifer treatment (SAT) into a dug well which simulates the SHAFDAN injection fields.
2.2 Above-ground supplementary treatment (alternative to SAT) using biological activated carbon (BAC) and/or ceramic UF membrane. A further question to be examined (based on budgetary considerations, if applicable) is whether to operate a track parallel to these two processes that will apply polymer clay (a Hebrew University development) instead of BAC, and a thread filter (by Amiad) instead of the ceramic membrane.
If feasible, this technology will be also examined as an alternative method for treating surplus wastewater that cannot be injected, in the hopes of achieving water quality that is equivalent to tertiary effluent.
Expected benefit:
Direct benefits:
1. Expand the application of treated wastewater beyond the scope that is currently in practice, by improving SAT processes based on AOP pretreatment. Such processes can be expected to improve percolation in the injection fields (thereby reducing the land area that injection requires), raising oxygen levels in the aquifer (reducing redox conditions that cause manganese to dissolve), increase the biological activity range and reduce the potential for dissolving metals (e.g. manganese and iron), which end up clogging the transmission and irrigation systems.
2. AOP processes can be expected to remove organic pollutants and boost their biodegradability.

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