A Complete Approach to Water Treatment
AguaClara LLC designs water treatment plants appropriate for communities with both high and low turbidity water. Turbidity is the cloudiness of water that can be seen with the naked eye. It indicates the level of particulates in the water. The World Health Organization has established the standard for safe drinking water at 1 NTU (Nephelometric Turbidity Units) or less. For both high and low turbidity, our methods reliably treat water to levels of 0.3 NTUs or less.
For raw water coming in at up to 1000 NTU we design full-scale plants that can support towns with 250-3000 households. Water is purified in a five step treatment train shown below.
For raw water coming in at up to 50 NTU we use a simpler, three step treatment train consisting of Coagulation, Stacked Rapid Filtration, and Disinfection. These plants are smaller and serve villages of 30-250 households.
AguaClara LLC is committed to building treatment plants that are affordable, easy to maintain, and not dependent on electricity. Our gravity-powered systems are especially resilient because they have manual or hydraulic controls and few moving parts. This means that operators don't have to worry about repairing a gearbox full of moving parts. The simple plant design can be constructed with community labor and local materials, and community members can be trained to master all aspects of plant operation.
Although we design and build very simple water treatment plants, we aren't satisfied yet. We're always looking for even better ways to bring reliable, safe drinking water to communities. Here are several areas of research:
- For some plants we utilize solar pumps to drive water from underground wells to the entrance tank of the treatment plant. From here gravity powers the rest of the water treatment. However, sunlight can be inconsistent and unreliable, which means our communities are left with spotty service on cloudy days. Although we excel when working with surface water, we are still innovating our approach to groundwater.
- Currently, the particles that get removed from the raw water drain out into sludge ponds located safely far away from the community. While this is another standard technique used in the water treatment sector, we are not satisfied with loose ends in the system. Wastewater management is not our specialty, but we are seeking innovative partners as well as our own methods to create a closed loop, e.g., one where the sludge can be composted and reused in the form of fertilizer!
- We are working hard to address the problem of heavy metal contamination. Laboratory studies show that we can remove arsenic using a coagulant and a sand filter. Current research is aimed at reducing costs and improving performance. We aren't yet ready to pilot arsenic removal technologies in the field, but we're getting there.