Water Res. 2009 Dec;43(20):5225-35
Roof-harvested rainwater for potable purposes: application of solar collector disinfection (SOCO-DIS).
Amin MT, Han MY. Department of Environmental Sciences, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Abbottabad, 22060, Pakistan. email@example.com
The efficiency of solar disinfection (SODIS), recommended by the World Health Organization, has been determined for rainwater disinfection, and potential benefits and limitations discussed. The limitations of SODIS have now been overcome by the use of solar collector disinfection (SOCO-DIS), for potential use of rainwater as a small-scale potable water supply, especially in developing countries. Rainwater samples collected from the underground storage tanks of a rooftop rainwater harvesting (RWH) system were exposed to different conditions of sunlight radiation in 2-L polyethylene terephthalate bottles in a solar collector with rectangular base and reflective open wings. Total and fecal coliforms were used, together with Escherichia coli and heterotrophic plate counts, as basic microbial and indicator organisms of water quality for disinfection efficiency evaluation. In the SOCO-DIS system, disinfection improved by 20-30% compared with the SODIS system, and rainwater was fully disinfected even under moderate weather conditions, due to the effects of concentrated sunlight radiation and the synergistic effects of thermal and optical inactivation. The SOCO-DIS system was optimized based on the collector configuration and the reflective base: an inclined position led to an increased disinfection efficiency of 10-15%. Microbial inactivation increased by 10-20% simply by reducing the initial pH value of the rainwater to 5. High turbidities also affected the SOCO-DIS system; the disinfection efficiency decreased by 10-15%, which indicated that rainwater needed to be filtered before treatment. The problem of microbial regrowth was significantly reduced in the SOCO-DIS system compared with the SODIS system because of residual sunlight effects. Only total coliform regrowth was detected at higher turbidities. The SOCO-DIS system was ineffective only under poor weather conditions, when longer exposure times or other practical means of reducing the pH were required for the treatment of stored rainwater for potable purposes.