use of ultraviolet light for water purification

Session A11
Paper # 6208
Disclaimer — This paper partially fulfills a writing requirement for first year (freshman) engineering
students at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering. This paper is a student, not a
professional, paper. This paper is based on publicly available information and may not be provide
complete analyses of all relevant data. If this paper is used for any purpose other than these authors’
partial fulfillment of a writing requirement for first year (freshman) engineering students at the
University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, the user does so at his or her own risk.
Kailyn Chichilla, [email protected], Mahboobin, 4:00
Shayla Arnett, [email protected], Sanchez, 10:00
Revised Proposal — No matter where a person lives,
clean water is a necessity. Unfortunately, many areas of the
world have environmental or economical problems, creating
situations in which people are not able to access clean water.
Chemical engineers have played a key role in trying to
develop solutions for clean water, and ultraviolet water
purification is a way that has been researched and advanced
over the past several years. Although other processes such as
the addition of chlorine is still often necessary, the ability to
purify water with ultraviolet light is one of the most cost
effective and environmentally friendly ways known today.
Water purification is essential and needs to be spread
across the world. A statistic from the article “Clean Water”
shows that “about 85% of childhood sickness and 65% of
adult diseases are thought to be produced by waterborne
viruses, bacteria and intestinal protozoa…”[1]. The future of
health and safety for humans is always a priority, and
purified water is no exception. Ultraviolet works to control
microorganisms by destroying DNA, causing the bacteria,
viruses or other organisms to be unable to reproduce.
Although Ultraviolet purification is initially more
expensive than chlorination, it has a low operating cost.
Companies pay more initially but over time will be able to
save money. Most of the water treatment systems using
ultraviolet light only requires an annual change of the bulb
and a periodic change of the filter cartridge [2].
Ultraviolet water cleansing also does less damage to our
health. While chlorine is effective, a smell and taste is added
to the water. The smell and tastes are left over from the
chemicals, which means there will be trace amounts of
chlorine [3]. Since no chemicals are actually added to the
water with UV treatments, there are no concerns of traces of
Ultraviolet radiation often needs to be combined with
other methods of water purification, such as chlorination,
membrane based treatment and pretreatment due to the
ultraviolet radiation only being able to break down things
such as heavy metals or non-living contaminants.
University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering 1
January 29, 2016
Engineers have an ethical rule that states they must, first
and foremost, be concerned about the wellbeing and safety of
humans. A simple need in life such as water must be made
accessible and up to standards in order for this rule to be
fulfilled. Although ultraviolet light is in fact a great solution,
there are issues with the strict the use of only ultraviolet
radiation. Some can include cloudiness of water affecting the
effectiveness of the treatment, which in turn can cause
problems with the purity of the water and the possibility of
marketing it.
With all of the benefits of ultraviolet purification and the
ethical issues surrounding this process, many scientists and
engineers have written articles and created websites
dedicated to informing the world’s population. Some are full
research documents while other sources are articles that
break things down for people who are not fully involved with
this topic. There is continuing research and modifications to
already made technologies that provide more opportunities to
invest in.
This research and the advancements in technologies will
lead to better filtration systems. By combining multiple forms,
more energy efficient and reusable systems are created. This
helps the overall economical value, increases ethical
greatness, and shows just how important this topic is and will
continue to be in the future.
[1] “Clean Water.” Chemical Engineers in Action. (Online
[2] “UV Water Purification.” ESP Water Products. (Online)
[3] “Difference Between UV Purification and Chlorination”.
Free Drinking Water. (Online)
Kailyn Chichilla
Shayla Arnett
“Clean Water.” Chemical Engineers in Action.
html (online site).
(Online Video).
This is a website dedicated, from chemical engineers, to
explain different ways waste water and drinking water are
being treated. This site was originally used for the purpose of
figuring out what type of treatments there are being
developed and researched. These gave us potential ideas for
our topic. It was in the advanced oxidation section that
ultraviolet light was listed.
This is a informational video detailing different ways to
come up with a topic for the paper. The video can be found
on the engineering section of the official University of
Pittsburgh library website. The information from this video
helped us narrow down and eventually select a topic that
interested us and fulfilled the requirements about what kind
of topic we should have.
College of Tropical Agriculture & Human
Resources. “Ultra-Violet (UV) Light Water
Treatment Systems.” (online PDF).
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (2012).
“Ultraviolet Light.” U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
(Online PDF).
This is a pdf written by the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers on Ultraviolet Light water treatment method. This
article outlines the different types of bacteria UV treatment. It
helped clarify how UV treatments can selectively target
bacterias and how it breaks them down so that they are not
able to reproduce again. We will use this article to help
explain to the reader exactly how UV treatment cleans water
and keeps it clean.
This article, from the University of Hawai’i, Manoa, is a
good introduction to what UV light water purification is. It
explains how the filters work and the process needed to keep
the product clean and functional. This is a concise, easily
readable article that can help people just learning about
ultraviolet light purification understand the process.
“UV Water Purification.” ESP Water Products. (online site).
“Difference Between UV Purification &
Chlorination.” Complete Guide to Home Water
Filtration. (online site).
This site is an extensive database filled with information
that a person with all different backgrounds of knowledge can
learn something from. There are five categories, that include
information about the process, what it is, advantages and over
all result of what happens. The common questions section is
the last section and had a long list of detailed questions that
we look at for information for our paper.
This article gives a good description of how different
water treatments work. The beginning starts out with how
chlorinating water, while it can disinfect the water, it also
leads to dangerous chemicals. Then, ultraviolet water
purification is introduced as an alternative that disinfects the
water as well, but with much safer results. Finally, The
problems in the last part explain what the UV can and cannot
kill and why.
A. Volker. (2016). “UV water treatment and water
disinfection.” Heraeus Noblelight. (Online Site).
This is an article on the official website for ESP Water
Products. The article outlines and highlights the differences
between chlorine and UV systems. It not only explains how
they clean and the residues they leave in the water. This
article will be used to help support why UV treatment is not
only healthier but more cost efficient. In our paper we will
use this info to explain why UV treatment is an all around
better option.
M. McKeon-Slattery. (2010). “Using UV Light to
Purify Water.” AIChE ChEnected. (Online Article).
This is an article found on the official website for the
American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Throughout the
article McKeon-Slattery explains various techniques and
suggestions for UV water treatment. This includes the correct
wavelength that should be used. The article doesn’t just
establish that UV treatment cleans water, it gives specific
examples of the bacterias that are killed by the UV
treatments. We will use this to help support our claim that
UV treatment is more thorough and is safer than the
K. Westerling. “Seeing the Light: The Benefits of
UV Water Treatment.” Water Online. (Online
This is not a traditional article, but a question and answer
with a marketing director of Trojan Technologies. She
explains that chlorine leaves residues that can become
harmful over time. She also explain how UV treatment is
better at keeping the water clean over time. This question and
Kailyn Chichilla
Shayla Arnett
answer explains why it is environmentally good for us to
transition to using UV treatment. It will be used in our paper
to establish why UV treatment is the best option in all