Water treatment is a complex process that involves a variety of physical, chemical, and biological processes. In this blog post, we will explore the various methods and technologies used in water treatment, with a focus on the technical details and formulas involved.


The first step in water treatment is typically the screening process, which involves the removal of large debris and particles from the raw water source. This is typically done using a screen or mesh filter, which prevents large particles from entering the treatment system. The size of the screen or mesh filter is typically measured in terms of mesh size, which refers to the number of openings per inch. For example, a 200 mesh screen has 200 openings per inch.

Coagulation and Flocculation

The next step in water treatment is coagulation and flocculation, which involves adding chemicals to the water to create larger particles, called floc, which can be easily removed from the water. The two primary chemicals used in this process are aluminum sulfate (Al2(SO4)3) and ferric chloride (FeCl3​).

The effectiveness of coagulation and flocculation can be quantified using the jar test, which involves mixing a small sample of water with various doses of coagulant and observing the resulting floc formation. The optimal dosage of coagulant can then be determined based on the best floc formation.


After coagulation and flocculation, the water is sent through a sedimentation tank, where the floc settles to the bottom of the tank and is removed. The rate of sedimentation can be calculated using Stokes’ Law, which states that the rate of settling of a particle in a fluid is proportional to the particle’s radius, density, and the difference in density between the particle and the fluid. The formula for Stokes’ Law is:

$latex V = \frac{2}{9}\frac{(d_p – d_f)gr^2}{u} $

where V is the settling velocity, dp​ is the density of the particle, df​ is the density of the fluid, g is the acceleration due to gravity, r is the radius of the particle, and u is the viscosity of the fluid.


After sedimentation, the water is sent through a series of filters to remove remaining impurities. The two primary types of filters used in water treatment are rapid sand filters and granular activated carbon (GAC) filters.

Rapid sand filters are typically composed of multiple layers of sand and gravel, with the largest particles at the bottom and the smallest particles at the top. As water passes through the filter, impurities are trapped in the sand and gravel layers. The effectiveness of a sand filter can be measured using the head loss method, which involves measuring the pressure drop across the filter as water flows through it.

GAC filters are composed of activated carbon particles, which have a large surface area and can adsorb a variety of organic and inorganic compounds from the water. The effectiveness of a GAC filter can be measured using the breakthrough curve method, which involves monitoring the concentration of a target compound in the filtered water over time.


After filtration, the water is disinfected to kill any remaining bacteria and viruses. The most common disinfectant used in water treatment is chlorine, which is added to the water in precise amounts to ensure the water is safe to drink. Chlorine works by reacting with the organic matter in the water and producing hypochlorous acid, which is a strong oxidizing agent that can kill bacteria and viruses.

The amount of chlorine needed to disinfect the water depends on the level of organic matter present in the water. The formula used to calculate the amount of chlorine needed is:

$latex C_t = \frac{V_s(C_i – C_f)}{V_wQ} $

where Ct​​ is the target chlorine concentration, Vs​ is the volume of the water being treated, Ci​ is the initial chlorine concentration, Cf​ is the desired chlorine concentration, Vw​ is the volume of the water in the treatment tank, and Q is the flow rate of the water.

Once the chlorine has been added to the water, it is typically held in a contact tank for a period of time to ensure that all of the bacteria and viruses are killed. The contact time required varies depending on the level of organic matter in the water, but is typically around 30 minutes.

pH Adjustment

In addition to disinfection, the pH of the water may also need to be adjusted to ensure that it is safe for consumption. The optimal pH for drinking water is typically between 6.5 and 8.5. If the pH is too low or too high, it can cause corrosion of the pipes and other infrastructure, as well as impact the taste of the water.

The pH of the water can be adjusted using various chemicals, including sodium carbonate (Na2CO3) and sodium hydroxide (NaOH). The amount of chemical needed to adjust the pH depends on the initial pH of the water and the desired pH.


Water treatment is a critical process that ensures the safety and quality of our drinking water. The various steps involved in water treatment, including screening, coagulation and flocculation, sedimentation, filtration, disinfection, and pH adjustment, require a combination of physical, chemical, and biological processes. Understanding the technical details and formulas involved in these processes is crucial to developing effective water treatment systems that meet the needs of communities around the world.

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