Water Purification Methods
Boiling: Water is heated hot enough and long enough to inactivate or kill micro-organisms that normally live in water at room temperature. Near sea level, a vigorous rolling boil for at least one minute is sufficient. At high altitudes (greater than two kilometers or 5000 feet) three minutes is recommended. In areas where the water is "hard" (that is, containing significant dissolved calcium salts), boiling decomposes the bicarbonate ions, resulting in partial precipitation as calcium carbonate. This is the "fur" that builds up on kettle elements, etc., in hard water areas. With the exception of calcium, boiling does not remove solutes of higher boiling point than water and in fact increases their concentration (due to some water being lost as vapour). Boiling does not leave a residual disinfectant in the water. Therefore, water that has been boiled and then stored for any length of time may have acquired new pathogens.
Chlorination: The most common disinfection method is some form of chlorine or its compounds such as chloramine or chlorine dioxide. Chlorine is a strong oxidant that rapidly kills many harmful micro-organisms. Because chlorine is a toxic gas, there is a danger of a release associated with its use. This problem is avoided by the use of sodium hypochlorite, which is a relatively inexpensive solution that releases free chlorine when dissolved in water. Chlorine solutions can be generated on site by electrolyzing common salt solutions. A solid form , calcium hypochlorite exists that releases chlorine on contact with water. Handling the solid, however, requires greater routine human contact through opening bags and pouring than the use of gas cylinders or bleach which are more easily automated. The generation of liquid sodium hypochlorite is both inexpensive and safer than the use of gas or solid chlorine. All forms of chlorine are widely used despite their respective drawbacks. One drawback is that chlorine from any source reacts with natural organic compounds in the water to form potentially harmful chemical by-products trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs), both of which are carcinogenic in large quantities and regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The formation of THMs and haloacetic acids may be minimized by effective removal of as many organics from the water as possible prior to chlorine addition. Although chlorine is effective in killing bacteria, it has limited effectiveness against protozoans that form cysts in water (Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium, both of which are pathogenic).
Electrodeionization (EDI) is a water treatment process that removes ionizable species from liquids using electrically active media and an electrical potential to effect ion transport. It differs from other water purification technologies such as conventional ion exchange in that it is does not require the use of chemicals such as acid and caustic.
For more information (background, pictures, experiments and references): Water Purification
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