Solar disinfection for the post-treatment of greywater by means of a continuous flow reactor

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SODIS (solar disinfection) is a low-cost alternative for water decontamination. The method is based on the exposure of water, contained in PET bottles, to direct sunlight, and mainly its UV-A and infrared components. The present research studied SODIS as a low cost alternative for the inactivation of Escherichia coli (E. coli) in treated greywater, aiming at its reuse for more noble applications. Experiments were performed in (i) batch mode (2 L PET-bottles), testing the effect of turbidity on system efficiency and, (ii) in a continuous pilot-scale reactor prototype (51 L, using interconnected 2 L-PET bottles), testing hydraulic retention times (HRT) of 18 and 24 h. Samples were exposed to an average solar radiation intensity of 518 W/m2. The results obtained indicate that the SODIS system has potential for total coliforms and E. coli inactivation in the pre-treated greywater, reaching 2.1 log units E. coli inactivation in batch experiments for low turbidity samples (21 NTU), and >2 log units inactivation of total coliforms (and E. coli, when present) for the 24 h HRT-continuous prototype. The continuous flow prototype needs more testing and structural improvements to cope with the difficulties posed by algae growth, as they complicate maintaining conditions of constant flow and make frequent maintenance inevitable.

Keywords: disinfection, E. coli, onsite treatment, photoreactor, reuse, SODIS

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