Disinfection of Drinking Water

A steadily growing world population is facing a shortage of hygienically clean drinking water. This resource may soon become a luxury item. However, there are many technologies readily available t produce quality drinking water, and especially to disinfect it. ProMinent is competent with almost all of these technologies.

Often, raw water containing bacteriological impurities, e.g. surface water or bank-filtered water, is used in drinking water recovery processes. Disinfection is an absolute necessity here. The selection of a suitable disinfection method must be adjusted to local requirements in order to afford highest microbiological safety and lowest risk of undesirable disinfection by-products. Moreover, local regulations permitting only specific disinfectants for use in drinking water must be observed.







Disinfection capacity





Depot effect





pH dependence








possibly Bromate

possibly Nitrite


low - high


medium - high








For chlorination, chlorine gas, sodium or calcium hypochlorite is added to the water. The quantity required depends on the chlorine demand of the water and the disinfection requirements. For drinking water there must be a minimum residual concentration of 0.1 % mg/L chlorine. A reaction period of at least 20 minutes is also required for effective disinfection. The efficiency of the chlorination is extremely dependent on the pH value of the water. Particularly in organically contaminated water odor and taste of the water can be impaired and undesirable by-products such as chlorinated hydrocarbon can be generated. Avoiding bacterial aftergrowth by Chlorine excess is often overestimated, as due to the inevitable Chlorine loss in the supply network, the sufficient Chlorine concentration is quickly depleted.

Chlorine Dioxide

Chlorine dioxide is another means of disinfection.. Thanks to its any advantages over chlorine, it is being used as areplacement in many applications. Its effect is stronger and - above all - independent of the pH value of the water. Due to its chemical qualities it does not produce chlorine by-products. The longer half-life period helps create a better depot effect in the treated water. For drinking water a minimum residual concentration of 0.05 mg/L chlorine dioxide at a reaction time of at least 15 minutes should be observed. It is remarkable that chlorine dioxide - contrary to chlorine, degrades biofilm in pipelines and containers and thus renders growth of Legionella impossible.


Ozone is the strongest means of oxidation and disinfection. It can be used for water treatment. Its major advantage is that no undesirable by-products are generated and ozone itself decomposes to oxygen. Its disadvantage is a short half-life period and weak solubility in water. In drinking water disinfection, it is mainly used for disinfection if any type of additional oxidation e.g. for decolorization, deferrization, demanganization or for the degradation of organic substances such as e.g. humic acids is required. In Germany, Ozone may be used for oxidation purposes only.

Ultraviolet Disinfection

For ultraviolet disinfection, the water to be disinfected is exposed to short wave ultraviolet light. This is an effective germicide that does not affect the water quality. UV disinfection does not provide depot action in the pipe network, however, UV radiation outmatches chemical disinfectants by far in combating parasites such as Cryptosporidium or Giardia.

Silver Ion Sterilization

For silver ion sterilization, silver ions are added to the water in a concentration of 0.05 to 0.1 mg/L. Silver ions have germicidal effect (oligodynamic). However, the correct coherence is not known. A residence time of several hours is required. Currently, the application area for this process has been reduced mainly to drinking water disinfection on ships or for essential supply with drinking water in disaster areas.

Sterile Filtration

High costs mean that sterile filtration is largely confined to medical or pharmaceutical applications. This process uses ultra filtration membranes with pore sizes of < 0.5 ┬Ám, that must be disinfected at regular intervals. Simple ultra filters are also used in small drinking water filters for domestic use. However, there is always the risk of germs growing through the filters. Silver ion sterilization does not provide long-term protection against germ growth either.

Slow Sand Filtration

Slow sand filtration with filter speeds of ca. 0.1 m/h achieves a significant reduction of the microbial count. Due to the large filter surface required, the use of slow sand filtration in drinking water treatment decreases constantly. For problematic raw waters, additional disinfection must take place in many cases.