Study reveals new method for disinfecting water facilities

A team of researchers from Russia’s NUST MISIS and Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology have developed a new approach for surface disinfection of water supply facilities such as water wells, filters, pipes and reservoirs.

The team’s study found that ozone treatment is more effective at inactivating viruses and microorganisms than commonly used hypochlorite treatments. The study claims that ozone treatment is more effective from a corrosion, economic and environmental point of view. The study was published in Environmental Science and Pollution Research.

At least once a year, drinking water installations are decontaminated by surface disinfection treatments to inactivate pathogens and microorganisms. Disinfection is commonly carried out using substances containing chlorine, such as sodium and calcium hypochlorite.

The Russian-Swedish research team found that sodium and hypochlorite treatments can lead to accelerated degradation of materials, leading to increased corrosion even after the treatment period if disinfectants are trapped in micropores or cracks. Degradation of the interior surface of pipes can, in turn, lead to an increase in iron released into tap water, making it unsuitable for drinking or cooking.

“Ozone is increasingly used for water decontamination. However, it is rarely used for surface disinfection despite its many technological, economic and environmental advantages,” noted Valentin Romanovski, senior researcher at the Center for research on structural ceramic nanomaterials, NUST MISIS.

Scientists from NUST MISIS and KTH Royal Institute of Technology have found that using ozone solutions instead of chlorine-based sanitizers significantly reduces the risk of corrosion, resulting in a significant reduction in the amount of iron released in tap water. Ozone treatment has been found to have the lowest negative impact on the environment and human health.

Another important aspect to consider is the treatment time, which in practice means stopping the production of drinking water. If it is time consuming and requires chemical handling, rinsing and waste effluent, surface disinfection treatment will be more often delayed and less preferred. Ozone solutions require the shortest treatment time (30 min) compared to 6-24 hours for chlorine-based treatments.

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