Seminar: Dr. Yongsheng Chen, Georgia Tech
Title: Membrane-Based Minus Approach to Minimize Safety Risks in Treated Drinking Water
Speaker: Dr. Yongsheng Chen, Georgia Tech
Host: Dr. Yantao Li
Abstract: The disinfection of drinking water using chlorine-based methods was a significant public health achievement in the 20th century, as it greatly reduced the risk of waterborne diseases caused by microbes. However, today’s chlorinated drinking water still poses safety concerns due to the presence of trace amounts of regulated and unregulated disinfection byproducts (DBPs), as well as other known, unknown, and emerging contaminants (KUECs) that can pose chronic risks and need to be removed. Conventional chemical-based drinking water treatment processes are not effective at removing DBPs or KUECs, and thus alternative approaches are necessary to minimize these risks by targeting the removal of DBP precursors and KUECs that are commonly found in water supplies. In this talk, we introduce the "Minus Approach", a novel approach to water treatment that mitigates KUECs and DBPs without compromising the safety of microbiological quality. The Minus Approach aims to produce biologically stable water with minimal human health risk and significantly lower concentrations of KUECs and DBPs, while reducing the use of chemical treatments that may cause problems, in contrast to the conventional "Plus Approach." The Minus Approach avoids primary chemical-based coagulants, disinfectants, and advanced oxidation processes, and instead focuses on membrane-based physical separation techniques that can effectively remove DBP precursors, KUECs, and pathogens from the main water treatment stream. If needed, the concentrate can be treated separately. As a result, the Minus Approach allows for the mitigation of DBPs and KUECs, with smaller doses of secondary chemical disinfectants used to minimize microbial regrowth in distribution systems. Furthermore, the Minus Approach integrates with artificial intelligence to optimize and enhance its performance. Adopting the Minus Approach in water treatment can lead to improved sustainability performance, as it reduces reliance on chemical treatments and minimizes the presence of harmful contaminants in treated water.
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