Water purification by ​electrical ​discharge

An international research team led by Professor Sergei Preis from the Tallinn University of Technology’s ​Department of ​Material and ​Environmental ​Technology in Estonia has developed a ​plasma water ​treatment using an ​electrical ​discharge ​method.

The research, published in the Journal of Electrostatics details how water ​is showered ​between ​electrodes with ​discharge ​pulses of ​voltage pulse ​amplitude of ​18–20 kV. The method is safer than chlorination and less expensive than the use of ozone for water treatment.

Professor Preis noted that chlorine has been used for water treatment for 100 years to eliminate the bacteria and viruses found in drinking water. It is an inexpensive and efficient method but, he added: “The drawback ​is its side ​effect caused ​by the ​inevitable ​exposure of ​chlorine to ​dissolved ​organic ​substances, ​mostly humic ​substances (​dead plant ​matter) and ​various ​extracellular ​metabolites.” He said that such ​exposure leads to ​chlorine producing ​carcinogenic substances.

​Professor Preis said that the new method that his team had developed meant that it was possible to produce ​drinking water ​suitable for ​human consumption without the high cost of ​ozonation. “No ​carcinogens are ​produced, and ​the process is ​three times ​less expensive.”

The full article, published by Elsevier, is entitled “Surfactant and ​non-surfactant ​radical ​scavengers in ​aqueous ​reactions ​induced by ​pulsed corona ​discharge ​treatment.”

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