May 2019

 A manganese removal system that ensures levels below 1ppb exiting the WTW with capital costs a quarter of traditional sand beds

The Problem

Relatively low manganese levels in water can result in tainting of taste as well as discoloration of the water and the surfaces it comes into contact with. The Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) in the United Kingdom have set a maximum allowable limit of 50ppb, well below the WHO guidelines of 400ppb. While the WHO regulations are based on health concerns of the bioavailable form of manganese the DWI regulations are concerned with providing drinking water at the point of use which also looks healthy and tastes good…i.e free from discolouration and taint.

The 50ppb limit set by the DWI was intended to ensure that discolouration and taste tainting was acceptable to the consumer. However, recent studies conducted by Welsh Water and Severn Trent have shown that levels as low as 2ppb can still be problematic at the point of use.

Flushing pipework to remove the contamination on a regular basis is time consuming, disruptive to the consumer and expensive. In an attempt to develop a more viable treatment system that can produce water with a manganese concentration below 2ppb Welsh Water partnered with Amazon Filters Ltd to look at an alternative technology.

inside-a-filter-cartridge

Existing Methods Of Removal

Most methods of removal rely on the oxidation of Mn(II) to Mn(IV) to precipitate out the manganese for subsequent removal through a filter bed of sand.  The capital cost of these system based on sand beds can be very high and mean treatment at multiple bore holes or surface water is just not viable. A brief summary of the various available methods of removal is provided below.

Oxidation - Precipitation

 

Principal

Oxidation of MnII to MnIV which can be removed by dead end filtration such as sand beds

Advantages

Chemicals used to oxidise (e.g. Chlorine / permanganate) are freely available

Disadvantages

Chlorine may need to be removed. Permanganate can discolour the water at low concentration

Summary

Additional use of chemicals should be avoided if at all possible. Periodic backwash required

Sequestration

 

Principal

Prevention of Mn precipitating out and discolouring water

 
Advantages

No discolouration of water visible

 
Disadvantages

Manganese still present in water with associated health impact

 
Summary

Not used as a viable control method

Adsorption

 

Principal

Ferrihydrite, goethite, ion oxide coated sand (IOCS) used to promote oxidation process

Advantages

Readily available technology

Disadvantages

Effectiveness highly dependent on the pH of water Beds need to be regenerated with Chlorine or permanganate 

Summary

Only work for specific water conditions and still required addition of chemicals

Ion Exchange

 

Principal

Ion Exchange

 
Advantages

Good for polishing up water with very low concentrations

Disadvantages

Can not be used for higher concentrations and can block quickly if oxidation to Mn(IV) occurs

Summary

Not suitable for municipal water suppliers

Membrane Technologies

 

Principal

Reverse Osmosis (RO) and Nano-Filtration

Advantages

OK for low concentrations

 
Disadvantages

Can block rapidly, especially when oxidation causes precipitation

 
Summary

Not suitable for municipal water supplies

Biological Removal

 

Principal

Biological mediated oxidation using aerobic bacteria such as Gallionella

Advantages

Smaller volumes of sludge produced and no chemicals added

Disadvantages

Complicated to run and maintain balance of microflora biosystem

 
Summary

Not common practice

Amazon Filters worked closely with Welsh Water to see if using cartridge filtration technology could result in a more viable, flexible option.

The Solution

The results of the first round of testing have shown that a system based on polymeric cartridge filters instead of traditional sand beds can lead to below detectable limits of manganese with an estimated overall installation cost 25% that of a traditional sand bed system.

This has been achieved using a polymeric filter composing of meltblown fibres that have proved to be highly effective at promoting the ‘seeding’ of manganese. This ‘seeding’ on the fibres establishes areas that accelerate the removal of manganese through a catalytic process. By selecting a filter with the correct combination of fibre diameters, efficiency and water flux, the optimised system in terms of removal and lifetime can be achieved.

Test Protocol / Results

A small side stream filter was set up to process a proportion of the water from a bore hole after chlorination and pH adjustment. The initial manganese level was recorded at between 4 and 5ppb before treatment. While this is well inside the DWI regulations it was still in a concentration above that known to cause problems in the distribution network.

Flowrates were maintained during the testing between 8 and 10l/min/10” filter.

Measurement of manganese levels were recorded by submitting samples to Welsh Water’s laboratories over an initial test period of 2 weeks. Over this time a marginal decrease in levels was recorded. Following a 2 week break the test was restarted and the filtrate levels of manganese had dropped to below detectable limits.

Manganese Removal Results

Filter Example

A section through the test filter shows the discolouration disappearing as the water flows from outside to in.

manganese removal filter used

amazon-filters-filter-construction-process

Conclusion

Two different filter constructions were tested to establish the most optimal design with respect to retention and lifetime. While these tests were limited to just one bore hole, the results are so encouraging that additional filter systems have been ordered by Welsh Water to replicate the performance at other bore and surface water locations.

To better understand the mechanisms of removal more fully and therefore have the ability to further improve and optimise the system a research project is being initiated with Swansea University. It is hoped this will lead to further improvements in design, installation and operation of the filtration system.

The full size system for the test borehole will treat up to 8.4Ml/d guaranteeing manganese concentration below 1ppb, ensuring discolouration does not appear at the customer tap

For further information on this new filter and application please contact Amazon Filters.