Choosing a water-filter system for your home can be daunting. Is a countertop carafe that costs about $50 adequate? Or would you benefit from a system that filters water as it flows into the house, cleansing all of the water used to for drinking, cooking, bathing and doing laundry? Depending on how elaborate they are, whole-house systems can cost thousands of dollars and require installation. But before choosing a system, decide whether you really need to filter your water. "We all have to remember that our public-water suppliers do a great job of providing safe water for us to use," said a representative of a filter company. "They have to meet very high standards that have been set forth for them and the people they serve." That's true nationally, according to a reliable sources: NSF is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that provides product certification and safety audits for the food and water industries. There's an increasing demand for water-filter systems, and some industry experts say that's from, in part, an environmental backlash against water in small plastic bottles. Business Week recently reported that Clorox's Brita and Procter & Gamble's PUR filtration systems both have enjoyed 10 percent-plus revenue growth in the past year. Water-filter makers keep improving their product. Most filters are activated charcoal, meaning charcoal that has been treated with oxygen to become absorbent. Charcoal filters are used in all sorts of units, including icemaker, undercounter,countertop, whole-house and others. Remembering to change the filter can be a problem for some. Basically, water filters fall into two categories -- point of use and point of entry. Point of use, such as pitchers and faucet-mounted, are the most popular because they are the least expensive. If all you're interested in is minimizing the taste of chlorine in your water but aren't concerned about laundry or cooking water, these filters are the way to go. Whole-house systems filter the water before it even makes it into your pipes. Here are the most popular methods and how they work: 1. Carafes. Carafes filter small quantities of drinking water inexpensively, can reduce up to 99 percent of chlorine, require no installation and are inexpensive, priced from about $15 to $60. Some carafes can filter up to 2,000 gallons of water on a single filter replacement cartridge and remove hundreds of contaminants from water. But they aren't practical for filtering water that will be used in large quantities for cooking. 2. Faucet-mounted. These filter drinking and cooking water with minimal installation and allow easy switching between filtered and unfiltered water. However, they can slow the flow of water and can't be used on all faucets. They range in price from $20 to $60. Some filter more contaminants than others. PUR boasts that its PUR 2 Stage Faucet Mount Filter reduces not only lead and chlorine, but asbestos, atrazine (an herbicide), benzene, lindane (an insecticide) and more. 3. Countertop. Filters large quantities of water without plumbing modification. The filters get water from the faucet by replacing the standard aerator (the part where the water comes out of the faucet) with a diverter valve. Pull a knob on the diverter valve to send water through the filter for drinking. Diverter valves won't fit faucets with a pull-out vegetable sprayer. Countertop systems are less likely to clog than carafes or faucet mounts, but they can clutter countertops and can't be used with all faucets. Prices range from $50 to $300. 4. Undersink. Good for filtering a lot of water without modifying the existing faucet or cluttering the counter. But they take up cabinet space and require plumbing modifications. A hole must be drilled through the sink and/or countertop for the dispenser. Prices range from $55 to $350. 5. Reverse osmosis. Involves water being forced under pressure through an ultrafine semi-permeable membrane that filters out salt and other impurities, discarding them, and passing pure water to a storage tank for later use. The water is stored in a pressure tank and is treated to a final activated-charcoal filtration to remove all remaining odors and tastes before dispensing the purified water. Prices range from $25 to about $300. 6. Whole-house systems. A whole-house filter connects to the main water line and filters impurities so that all of the water outlets -- faucets, toilets, showers, baths, kitchen, laundry -- dispense treated water. Depending on size and brand, whole-house filter systems can range from about $175 to nearly $5,000. So, how do you determine how much lead might be leaching into your water, or pharmaceuticals compounds getting through?
Sources from: http://www.cleveland.com/living/index.ssf/2009/03/how_to_choose_a_home_water_fil.html
03/11/2009 By Steve Gorman
* Tech exists to purify seawater, sewer water for drinking * Chief obstacles are politics, cost and energy use * Drought, climate change raise demand for water sources * Water crisis concerns now trumping 'toilet-to-tap' fears LOS ANGELES, March 12 (Reuters) - Anyone who has visited Disneyland recently and taken a sip from a drinking fountain there may have unknowingly sampled a taste of the future -- a small quantity of water that once flowed through a sewer. Orange County Water District officials say that's a good thing -- the result of a successful, year-old project to purify wastewater and pump it into the ground to help restore depleted aquifers that provide most of the local water supply. The $481 million recycling plant, the world's largest of its kind, uses microfiltration, reverse osmosis, ultraviolet light and hydrogen peroxide disinfection to treat 70 million gallons (265 million litres) of sewer water a day, enough to meet the drinking needs of 500,000 people. Just don't call it "toilet-to-tap." County officials prefer the term "Groundwater Replenishment System," a name chosen after similar projects in Los Angeles and San Diego fell prey to public misconceptions, also known as the "yuck" factor," and local election-year politics. Their experience underscores one of the great lessons facing municipal officials across the U.S. West as they seek to bring purification and recycling technologies to bear against drought cycles expected to worsen with climate change. Scientists, policymakers and investors agree ample know-how exists to solve the water crisis; the difficulties lie in energy constraints, economics and politics. "We can solve most, if not all, of the world's biggest water problems with technology that exists today," said Stephan Dolezalek, who leads the clean-energy practice of Silicon Valley venture capital firm VantagePoint Venture Partners. "What we may not have is the willpower." 'A NEW DAY' FOR WATER Experts say price distortions in the West, where government has long subsidized farm irrigation and the cost of pipelines and pumping stations to send fresh water from distant sources to cities, have discouraged the development of new supplies. "The water that we use in the West is generally undervalued," said Tim Barnett, a marine research physicist for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. The math has changed as the region's water grows scarcer, its population swells and environmental pressures mount. "This is a new day, and we have conditions which compel us to look to new water resources," said David Nahai, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the nation's largest municipal utility. He and other water managers see tremendous potential in stepped-up conservation, from encouraging more waste-conscious personal behavior to installing low-flow showers, toilets, appliances and lawn sprinklers. Such measures could add more than 1 million acre feet of water -- enough for 8 million people -- to Southern California's regional supply alone, or about 25 percent of current annual use, according to a report by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. Further gains are possible by replenishing groundwater basins with rainfall runoff that normally flows to sea. THE HOLY GRAIL Desalination, the process of converting salt water to fresh, has long been viewed as the holy grail in the quest to replace imported drinking supplies, said Jonas Minton of the environmental group Planning Conservation League. But Minton, who chaired a California state desalination task force earlier this decade, and other experts cite two major drawbacks. One is a risk to marine life from intake pipes that suck water into the system and from a highly concentrated brine byproduct that gets discharged back into the ocean. The other is the relatively high cost of removing salt from ocean water, which contains roughly 30 times more dissolved impurities than sewer water and thus takes far more energy to distill. Energy demands become especially vexing in light of efforts to curb carbon emissions tied to global warming. Desalination is common in parts of the Middle East, where freshwater sources are extremely scarce, oil is plentiful, and environmental laws are less stringent. But U.S. ocean desal plants are rare. The biggest so far is in Tampa, Florida. Six small-scale plants exist in California, and about 20 more are in various stages of planning or development. The most ambitious, a $300 million facility to be built by the Connecticut-based company Poseidon Resources in Carlsbad, near San Diego, would produce 50 million gallons (189 million litres) of drinking water daily, enough for about 110,000 households. The Poseidon plant, twice the size of the Tampa facility, would be the largest in the Western Hemisphere. It has yet to receive final approval for construction. FROM THE GROUND AND BACK AGAIN Once considered a less attractive alternative, wastewater recycling technology has proven more economically feasible and gained greater public acceptance. "We're to a certain extent helping to drought-proof ourselves," said Michael Markus, general manager of the Orange County Water District and the chief engineer behind its Groundwater Replenishment System. "Within three years, the price of imported water will be $800 per acre foot, and projects like this, even without outside funding, will become viable," he said. An acre foot of water is about a year's supply for two families. By comparison, Orange County's recycling system currently produces water for $600 an acre foot, not including subsidies it received for the initial capital investment. The plant takes pre-treated sewer water that otherwise would be discharged to the ocean and runs it through a three-step cleansing process -- essentially the same technology used to purify baby food and bottled water. Thousands of microfilters, hollow fibers covered in holes one-three-hundredth the width of a human hair, strain out suspended solids, bacteria and other materials. The water then passes to a reverse osmosis system, where it is forced through semi-permeable membranes that filter out smaller contaminants, including salts, viruses and pesticides. Reverse osmosis also is the main process used in desalination. Finally, the water is disinfected with a mix of ultraviolet light and hydrogen peroxide. The resulting product exceeds all U.S. drinking standards but gets additional filtration when it is allowed to percolate back into the ground to replenish the aquifer. Much of the technology is supplied by private companies, including German-based Siemens AG, which makes the microfilters, and Danaher Corp, headquartered in Washington, D.C., which furnishes the UV lamps. The Orange County system is serving as a model for a project that Los Angeles plans to resurrect nearly 10 years after it was killed when local politicians disparaged the concept as "toilet-to-tap." San Diego's recycling project met a similar fate and also is back on the drawing board. A recent study cited by L.A. County Economic Development Corp found more than 30 Southern California recycling projects with the potential of yielding over 450,000 acre feet of water within five years. That's about half the amount the region expects to import this year from the Colorado River. Water managers say they now realize that an aggressive public education campaign is key to building support. They want the public to understand that much of what comes from the tap today is recycled sewer water. The Colorado River, for example, contains large amounts of heavily treated waste discharged from cities upstream, including Las Vegas. As the L.A. County Economic Development Corp study puts it, "What happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas."
Resources from: http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSN17399217
Choosing a water-filter system for your home can be daunting.
Is a countertop carafe that costs about $50 adequate? Or would you benefit from a system that filters water as it flows into the house, cleansing all of the water used to drink, cook with, bathe in, do laundry with and so on. Depending on how elaborate they are, whole-house systems can cost thousands of dollars and require installation.
But before choosing a system, you need have to decide whether you really need to filter your water.
"We all have to remember that our public-water suppliers do a great job of providing safe water for us to use," said Keith Brooks, sales manager for Culligan of Northeast Ohio. "They have to meet very high standards that have been set forth for them and the people they serve."
That's true nationally, according to Tom Bruursema, general manager of the National Sanitation Foundation (NFS) International Drinking Water Treatment Unit Certification Program. NSF is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that provides product certification and safety audits for the food and water industries. "The United States is very fortunate to have a very safe water-supply system," Bruursema said.
And if you buy a lot of bottled water to drink, would you save money by filtering your water at home and carrying it with you?
There's an increasing demand for water-filter systems, and some industry experts say that's from, in part, an environmental backlash against water in small plastic bottles. Business Week recently reported that Clorox's Brita and Procter & Gamble's PUR filtration systems both have enjoyed 10 percent-plus revenue growth in the past year. Water-filter makers keep improving their product, so much so that the NSF devotes a page on its Web site that compares water filters in terms of price and which chemicals they remove.
Most filters are activated charcoal, meaning charcoal that has been treated with oxygen to become absorbent. Charcoal filters are used in all sorts of units, including icemaker, undercounter,countertop, whole-house and others. Remembering to change the filter can be a problem for some.
"Unfortunately, since carbon [charcoal] filters must be replaced, if you fail to do so, you may be doing more harm than good," said Brooks.
Bill Warren of Chagrin Falls owns Clear Flow, which makes faucet-mounted units (clearflowfilters.com). Basically, water filters fall into two categories -- point of use and point of entry, said Warren. Point of use, such as pitchers and faucet-mounted, are the most popular because they are the least expensive. If all you're interested in is minimizing the taste of chlorine in your water but aren't concerned about laundry or cooking water, these filters are the way togo.
Sources from: http://www.cleveland.com/insideout/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/living-0/1237365071165340.xml&coll=2&thispage=2
The U.S. water market is $95 billion ($425 billion globally). Of that $95 billion, $24 billion is spent on industrial wastewater purification and recovery.
Innovative water technology startup Crystal Clear Technologies has developed a novel approach to separate out toxic contaminants such as arsenic, copper, uranium and selenium. The technology is specifically relevant to industrial smelters, power plants and mining operations. “We’re the first company doing this kind of approach,” says James Harris, CEO of Crystal Clear Technologies.
The company uses a low-cost biopolymer with absorbents called Chitosan to separate out contaminants. It works as a sponge that binds to specific toxic elements. At the core of the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company’s technology is bifunctional ligands, which bind to toxic metals on the order of eight times more effectively than existing reverse-osmosis systems.
The original technology was developed at the University of Oregon. Crystal Clear has used a variety of Small Business Innovation Research Grants funds over the past several years to refine and perfect the technology.
Today two methods are used to filter out unwanted contaminants: flocculation and reverse osmosis. The predominant approach today is RO. But it typically has greater energy costs and there’s a disposal problem, with residue left over. Crystal Clear’s technology has a much smaller byproduct of sludge by comparison to flocculation and RO.
In terms of cost, here’s how the technologies stack up. Flocculation costs about $.80 per 1,000 gallons of water and reverse osmosis costs $.58 per 1,000 gallons, according to data from Crystal Clear. The company’s approach with Chitosan costs $.03 to $0.15 per 1,000 gallons. Some mining operations using RO run at $150 per 1,000 liters. Crystal Clear claims it can deliver the same purification at $25 per 1,000 liters.
Over the next six to nine months, Harris says the company is going to be focusing on scaling its system and experimenting with other elements like lead and selenium.
In terms of how the filtration system can be paired with renewable energy sources like solar or wind, Harris says any of those systems could be used to drive the pumps and filtration process. The company is in the process of a fundraising round for the next phase of its operations.
Sources from: http://www.ecoworld.com/blog/editor/guest/2009/04/03/removing-toxic-metals-from-water/