Optimizing design and operation of rapid sand filtration for removal of micropollutants from drinking water

The micropollutants in the water cycle threatens the quality of surface water used for drinking water production. Thus, micropollutants removal should be actively managed at the drinking water treatment plant (DWTP) to protect public health. Add-on techniques such as (advanced) oxidation combined with activated carbon or membrane filtration have been installed for micropollutants removal. Nevertheless, these processes still suffer from toxic
by-product formation and high investment and energy costs. This project aims at developing a novel and cost-effective sand filtration system for efficient micropollutants removal.

Technological challenge

As sand filter material has lower absorption capacity, the biodegradation is the main removal process (Fig. 1).


Previous research on sand filtrations found the potential of biological processes at DWTPs to remove a wide range of micropollutants (Zearley and Summers, 2012). However, several research topics (Fig. 2) remain unaddressed:

  1. The different contributions of micropollutant removal from inherent microbiological metabolisms will be studied in lab-scale sand filter.
  2. The microbial adhesion and biofilm retention will be strengthened by optimized filter material and hydraulic condition.
  3. Effective microbial culture will be enriched and inoculated into sand filtration to investigate the achievement of bioaugmentation.
  4. We will research protozoa population in sand filter and reduce the negative effects of protozoan predation on introduced degrader bacteria.
  5. We will validate the above findings from lab scale reactors in the field with pilot-scale filters.