Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

Chemical Doser for AguaClara Water Treatment Plants

EPA Grant Number: SU834752
Title: Chemical Doser for AguaClara Water Treatment Plants
Investigators: Weber-Shirk, Monroe , Swetland, Karen A.
Institution: Cornell University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: August 15, 2010 through August 14, 2012
Project Amount: $75,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet - Phase 2 (2010) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Water , P3 Awards , Sustainability



The AguaClara technology is uniquely capable of producing high quality drinking water from turbid surface waters without using electricity. It is simple to operate and is sustainable even by small resource poor communities. The engineering designs are shared at no cost by Cornell University to facilitate technology dissemination.

The primary objectives of AguaClara municipal water treatment plants are to remove the suspended particles present in the source water and to kill pathogens through disinfection. Turbidity is a measure of the cloudiness of the water and is a key indicator of water quality. A chemical coagulant, alum, is added to the raw water to reduce the turbidity of water by causing suspended solids to stick together and settle out. The resulting clear water can then be safely disinfected with chlorine. The objective of this research is to improve the performance of the AguaClara plants as measured by residual turbidity.


We will research the fundamental particle removal mechanisms in the coupled processes of rapid mix, flocculation, floc blankets, plate settlers, and filtration. We will build additional appropriately scaled apparatus to facilitate testing. We will use state of the art process control to automate parametric testing. New test facilities will include a full scale slice of a sedimentation tank, a turbulent flow hydraulic flocculator, and novel filtration technologies.

We will also continue our testing and validation of the nonlinear chemical dose controller that we invented in phase 1 of this research. The accurate and reliable dosing of alum will improve the overall quality of treated water.

Expected Results:

The design procedure for the nonlinear chemical doser will be validated and extended over a wide range of flow rates. The doser will be tested in several full-scale municipal water treatment plants. We will also generate improved design algorithms for rapid mix, flocculation, floc blankets, plate settlers, and filtration. The design algorithms will be incorporated into the online AguaClara Design Tool. The improved designs will be tested at full scale as additional AguaClara facilities are constructed by implementation partners.

Supplemental Keywords:

hydraulic flocculation, resilient technology, aluminum sulfate, Global South,

Relevant Websites:

Phase 1 Abstract

Progress and Final Reports:
2011 Progress Report