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Challenges & Opportunities of Wastewater UV System Design and Operation In the 21st Century

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Chlorine has been the mainstay of the wastewater disinfection industry for more than 100 years due to its effectiveness, low cost, and availability. However, its use is associated with increased safety concerns, formation of harmful chlorinated byproducts including emerging contaminants such as NDMA, aquatic toxicity, and inability to inactivate Cryptosporidium. Ultraviolet (UV) light is a physical disinfection process involving electromagnetic waves. Cryptosporidium and Giardia can be inactivated by relatively low UV doses. It is relatively safe to use and does not form any known disinfection by-products. The past 30 years have witnessed a tremendous growth in the use of UV disinfection. Presently, approximately 15 to 20 percent of the wastewater treatment plants in North America use this technology. This paper reviews regulatory, technical, design, performance, and sustainability challenges facing the UV disinfection industry in the 21st century. It also outlines anticipated technology trends and changes in design approaches required to promote the wider application of UV disinfection.

Keywords: 21st century challenges; UV disinfection; wastewater disinfection

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2011

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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