Ultrasound cleans ceramic filters: Could aid water treatment

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Engineers at Ohio State University have discovered how to clean high-tech ceramic water filters at low cost with ultrasound.

Though early in its development, this technology may one day enable water treatment plants to purify water with ceramic membrane filters instead of harsh chemicals.

Linda Weavers and Harold Walker, both assistant professors of civil and environmental engineering and geodetic science, and doctoral students Dong Chen and Mikko Lamminen described their ultrasonic cleaning technique April 10 in a poster at the American Chemical Society meeting in Orlando.

"If water treatment plants could clean water with membrane filters, they could minimize the cost, safety and disposal issues associated with the use of harsh chemicals," Walker said.

As an alternative to chemicals, researchers are studying ceramic membrane filters -- honeycomb-like networks of tiny channels separated by thin ceramic films, or membranes. When water flows through the channels, the membranes act as sieves to catch contaminants such as clay, iron oxide, bacteria and viruses. The problem: over time, the membranes become clogged with contaminants, and must be cleaned.

Weavers and Walker took note of recent research involving ultrasound and bubbles. The idea, most recently reported

Contact: Linda Weavers
Ohio State University

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