Drinking water source contamination poses a great threat to human health in developing countries. Point-of-use (POU) water treatment techniques, which improve drinking water quality at the household level, offer an affordable and convenient way to obtain safe drinking water and thus can reduce the outbreaks of waterborne diseases. Ceramic water filters (CWFs), fabricated from locally sourced materials and manufactured by local labor, are one of the most socially acceptable POU water treatment technologies because of their effectiveness, low-cost and ease of use. This review concisely summarizes the critical factors that influence the performance of CWFs, including (1) CWF manufacturing process (raw material selection, firing process, silver impregnation), and (2) source water quality. Then, an in-depth discussion is presented with emphasis on key research efforts to address two major challenges of conventional CWFs, including (1) simultaneous increase of filter flow rate and bacterial removal efficiency, and (2) removal of various concerning pollutants, such as viruses and metal(loid)s. To promote the application of CWFs, future research directions can focus on: (1) investigation of pore size distribution and pore structure to achieve higher flow rates and effective pathogen removal by elucidating pathogen transport in porous ceramic and adjusting manufacture parameters; and (2) exploration of new surface modification approaches with enhanced interaction between a variety of contaminants and ceramic surfaces.
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This work was supported by the University of Wisconsin Applied Research Grant (MIL111691) and the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Catalyst Grant (MIL113501). The authors declare no competing financial interest.
Haiyan Yang received her Ph.D. degree from Peking University and then worked as a postdoc fellow in Harbin Institute of Technology and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She currently joined South China Normal University. Her research focuses on the sustainable point-of-use water treatment and the fate of colloidal contaminants.
Shangping Xu received his B.S. degree from Peking University, and M.S and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton University. He is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. His research interests include the transport of contaminant within the environment, effects of global climate change on water resources and the development of water treatment techniques.
Derek E Chitwood has a B.S. degree in aerospace engineering and Ph.D. in environmental engineering, both from the University of Southern California. He spent 18 years working in rural southwest China. His research focus is studying mountain spring water quality and point of use water filters for rural peoples in developing communities.
Yin Wang received his B.S. degree from Peking University, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Washington University in St. Louis. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. His research focuses on the development of efficient and sustainable solutions to address water-related grand challenges.
• CWF is a sustainable POU water treatment method for developing areas.
• CWF manufacturing process is critical for its filtration performance.
• Simultaneous increase of flow rate and pathogen removal is a challenge.
• Control of pore size distribution holds promises to improve CWF efficiency.
• Novel coatings of CWFs are a promising method to improve contaminant removal.
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Yang, H., Xu, S., Chitwood, D.E. et al. Ceramic water filter for point-of-use water treatment in developing countries: Principles, challenges and opportunities. Front. Environ. Sci. Eng. 14, 79 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11783-020-1254-9
- Point-of-use water treatment
- Ceramic water filter
- Bacterial removal
- Surface modification
- Water quality