What is UV Water Treatment?

Harriette Halepis

Ultraviolet water disinfection refers to the elimination of waterborne microorganisms through the use of ultraviolet radiation. This process is entirely free from any chemicals, since it relies upon radiation techniques. While a UV water treatment effectively rids any drinking water of bacteria, it does not remove inorganic compounds, dissolved organics, or other particles that may be present.

Ultraviolet disinfection is a method of cleaning drinking water.
Ultraviolet disinfection is a method of cleaning drinking water.

By using a specialized mercury vapor lamp, ultraviolet radiation is emitted. The lamp itself does not come in contact with the water in any manner. Instead, lamps are kept inside of a unique glass tube that is placed inside of the water, or kept adjacent to the water. As UV rays are released, the water absorbs these rays. The result is a cleaned and disinfected body of water that is fit for human consumption. While UV water treatment methods have many different benefits, an equal number of drawbacks also exist.

Ultraviolet radiation can be used to remove bacteria from drinking water.
Ultraviolet radiation can be used to remove bacteria from drinking water.

Unlike other water purification methods, a UV water treatment can be applied to well water or surface water. In addition, this type of treatment is far more cost-effective than other disinfection treatments. In many ways, a UV water treatment is also more effective than most other types of treatments.

The main problem with UV water treatment is that water can pass through a UV tube without absorbing UV rays. When this occurs, the water in question is not properly cleansed. Also, if the flow of water is increased, a large portion of water will be able to pass through the UV tube without coming in contact with UV radiation. Lastly, when water is too low, a lack of water may cause temperatures within a UV tube to rise, which, in turn, will cause the tube to rupture. All of these problems are currently being researched, since many scientists believe that UV water treatments can be perfected.

While seemingly a new type of technology, UV water treatments have been in existence since 1916. Within the United States, many different states have UV water treatment facilities in place. In fact, some of the largest cities within the United States will greatly benefit from this type of water treatment facility within the near future.

Many researchers also believe that, due to the cost-effectiveness of UV water tactics, ultraviolet radiation may be able to cleanse bacteria-filled water across the globe. Countries that do not have clean sources of drinking water may be able to construct ultraviolet treatment centers for a small price. In every manner, this type of water treatment is changing the way that the world drinks water.

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Discussion Comments


I am currently working on the construction site of one of the nations latest water treatment facilities. I'd like to know where the best sources for UV treatment can be found.

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