High Rate Sedimentation Tank for Hydraulic H2O Treatment

EPA Grant Number: SU836772
Title: High Rate Sedimentation Tank for Hydraulic H2O Treatment
Investigators: Weber-Shirk, Monroe
Institution: Cornell University
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2016 through August 31, 2017
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2016) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Safe and Sustainable Water Resources , Sustainable and Healthy Communities , P3 Awards


Develop an up-flow sedimentation tank with new reactor geometry that allows greatly increased flow velocity; its much smaller tank size will reduce the construction and material costs of drinking water treatment.


Safe drinking water on tap is an aspiration for more than 2 billion people. The AguaClara program has developed a series of new technologies, design approaches, and fabrication methods that significantly reduce the cost of community scale water treatment. Our goal for this research is to design a sedimentation tank that can operate at higher velocities and hence be smaller and cost less to construct.


Several of the AguaClara program project teams will test novel geometries for sedimentation tank design. The new geometries will be tested in the AguaClara research laboratory using scale model flocculator and sedimentation tanks that are designed to replicate the particle interactions and fluid dynamics of full scale, municipal water treatment plants. The student teams will test the addition of surfaces and new reactor geometries to enhance sedimentation and particle aggregation. The interactions between the fluid flow, particle contaminants, and reactor geometry are complex. The AguaClara research program is developing a fundamental understanding of these interactions that will guide a creative exploration of new reactor geometries.

Expected Results:

This is high risk, high impact research that could result in new sedimentation tank geometries that will significantly reduce the cost of drinking water treatment. The research will identify the constraints that limit the flow velocity in sedimentation tanks and assess methods to maximize the flow velocity. Results from this research will be incorporated into the AguaClara water treatment plant designs including the open source AguaClara civil works design that is used for populations between 1500 and 25,000 and the new village scale prefabricated treatment system that will serve smaller population centers.

Supplemental Keywords:

Municipal drinking water treatment, surface water, groundwater, pathogen removal, turbidity, open source engineering

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report