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The Use of Gas Sensing for Drinking Water Purification

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Safe, clean, and accessible water is vital for public health in any area of the world. Currently, the global population stands at over 7.7 billion. Of the population over a quarter, around 2 billion people drink water from a contaminated supply, according to World Health Organization (WHO) data.

Therefore, ensuring the global population has access to clean water the development of water purification methods is key and NDIR gas sensors can help ensure efficient gas monitoring during the purification process making them a valuable tool.

During the water treatment process gases such as carbon monoxide, methane, and carbon dioxide are produced, and gas sensors play an important role in ensuring the levels of gas in the water supply remain within a safe range. Whether the water is to be used for drinking, domestic, food production, industry or recreational purposes improving the quality of water minimizes the transmission of disease. However, the intended use for the water does have a bearing on how ‘safe’ or ‘clean’ it must be, i.e. water used in certain industrial practices such as chemical synthesis may need to be ‘cleaner’ than what is considered ‘safe’ for drinking water.

So, after large debris and other solid materials have been extracted from the water, careful analysis must be carried out to determine the contamination levels of the water being processed. Subsequently, in order to ensure the correct strategy for the purification is implemented gas sensors carefully monitor CO2 and other gases to ensure safety levels are not exceeded.

Furthermore, the gas sensors can also help monitor total organic carbon (TOC) levels which can be present due to the presence of bacteria or other harmful substances not removed at an earlier stage in the treatment process. Thus, by measuring TOC levels, treatment plants can monitor and detect contaminants from a wide range of sources and thereby ensure the water treatment meets the design strategy.

One of the organizations leading the way in NDIR gas sensor technology is the Scottish company Edinburgh Sensors. Their NDIRs have the ability to easily detect hydrocarbon gases which makes NDIR sensors one of the optimal approaches to monitoring TOC and dissolved gas levels in water. In a press release the company claim, “Edinburgh Sensors range of nondispersive infrared (NDIR) gas sensors are the perfect solution for water purification plants.”

In 2010, the UN General Assembly acknowledged the human right to water and sanitation. They stated that every living human has the right to sufficient, acceptable, continuous, safe, and affordable water for personal and domestic use.

When water  accessibility is improved and comes from safe, cleans sources, both public health is improved while people in developing countries spend less time and effort physically collecting it, meaning they can be productive in other ways. Better water also means government and personal expenditure on health is lowered, as people are less likely to fall ill and incur medical costs. This means that personal safety is enhanced as the need to make long or risky journeys to collect water is significantly reduced. These factors make for healthy societies that are better able to remain economically productive.

Considering many countries are using wastewater for irrigation – especially in developing countries which represent 7% of irrigated land. If this practice is not carried out correctly then it poses great public health risks. The safe management of wastewater and the utilization of new technology and strategies such as gas sensors can yield multiple benefits, including increased food production and the control of deadly diseases.

Today’s world is one in which the consequences of climate change can also mean increasing water scarcity for those in affected areas. Add to that, population growth, urbanization and demographic changes and it is clear to see the challenges water supply systems face. The WHO predict that by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

David J. Cross

Written by

David J. Cross

David is an academic researcher and interdisciplinary artist. David's current research explores how science and technology, particularly the internet and artificial intelligence, can be put into practice to influence a new shift towards utopianism and the reemergent theory of the commons.


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