Before you buy ANY type of water purification or filtration system, you should know how each type of system performs, what they do or do not remove, relative costs and other factors. If you wish to see some comparison charts on these subjects, go to System Comparisons now, or review the matrix below. You can then return to this or other pages and continue your review of the systems.

System

Performance

Comparison

Carbon

Filter

Carbon

filter

w/silver

Ceramic Filter

 

 

Ceramic Filter with Carbon

 

Reverse

Osmosis

Steam

Distillation

w/carbon

 Microbiological  NO  PARTIAL  YES  YES  NO  YES
 Organics  YES  YES  NO  YES  YES  YES
 Heavy Metals  NO NO NO NO PARTIAL YES
 Radioactivity  NO NO NO NO PARTIAL YES
 Inorganics  NO NO NO NO PARTIAL YES
         

This section contains information on portable, CERAMIC water treatment systems, primarily designed for removing dangerous bacteria from un-treated fresh water supplies. Some units also remove potentially dangerous organic chemicals such as pesticides and industrial compounds.

With the exception of steam distillation(probably unavailable during an emergency without electricity) iodine, chlorine and a few other potentially toxic substances, CERAMIC FILTER water treatment systems may provide the ONLY process whereby untreated water supplies can be rendered biologically safe to drink.

The market for ceramic filtration systems is growing daily---in part due to public concern about emergency water conditions which could be caused by earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and so forth.

The primary reason for the use of ceramic technologies is for bacteria removal. A secondary reason includes the ability to remove various protozoa(cysts).

Therefore, it is important to understand the various testing procedures used to "verify" microbiological cleanliness of the water produced by ceramic filtration systems.

In this manner, one can identify whether or not a specific ceramic system can provide safe drinking water according to accepted testing standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA).

The EPA has established a testing methodology(protocol) for water filters(purifiers) which establishes minimum levels of performance for removal(reduction) of the three classes of pathogenic(disease-causing) organisms: protozoa(cysts), bacteria, and virus.

This testing procedure, with associated required minimum performance levels, is known as the "USEPA Guide Standard and Protocol for Testing Microbiological Water Purifiers."

These testing procedures, which are performed by independent(third party) laboratories, must follow the "protocol" established by the USEPA, which establishes the conditions for conducting the various tests with the three classes of organisms. These conditions include such items as # of gallons of test water, test water pH levels, etc.

The "standard" establishes the minimum level of reduction performance for each class of organism together with which particular representative organism is to be used for testing in that class.

When a microbiological water filter has demonstrated the ability to inactivate or remove at least the minimum required level of the mandated(representative) organism for a particular class, using the USEPA established testing protocol, the manufacturer may then claim that their filter meets the USEPA standard for that class.

When a filter or equipment manufacturer meets the removal standard FOR ALL THREE CLASSES of organisms, it can claim the title of Microbiological Water "Purifier" for that water treatment device.

For example, water distillation systems destroy and remove all three classes of organisms and thus can be called(marketed) as a "purifier". Equipment such as carbon filters and reverse osmosis systems do not meet these three standards and therefore cannot be called "purifiers".

COMPLIANCE WITH USEPA STANDARDS FOR CYST REMOVAL

Marathon Ceramics, manufacturers of the ceramic elements for the Aqua Rain gravity filter system and Miniworks hand pump filters have fully met the USEPA requirements for cyst removal, not only when they are new, but ALSO AT END OF LIFE.

No other manufacturer has demonstrated compliance with USEPA Cyst removal standards at end of life.

COMPLIANCE WITH USEPA STANDARDS FOR BACTERIA REMOVAL

The USEPA standard for bacteria is the removal of >99.9999%(6 log or 6 orders of magnitude) of Klebsiella terrigena with a NEW filter element as tested in accordance with the USEPA methodology by a reputable, third-party laboratory.

The Aqua Rain gravity filter system is the only ceramic gravity filtration system which has demonstrated full compliance with USEPA standards for bacteria removal, not only at beginning of life(new filter element) but also when abraded down to the minimum end-of-life wall thickness(as measured by the caliper methods described below).

No other gravity filter system manufactured anywhere in the world claims to meet this USEPA standard. The Aqua Rain ceramic technology is American Technology designed and tested to meet our own country's challenging American Standards for water purification.

The Aqua Rain gravity filtration system can be correctly summarized by stating that it:

"Exceeds EPA Purifier Standards for Bacteria and Protozoa(or cyst) Removal"


Theory of Operation

In ceramic filter systems(PUMP and DRIP/GRAVITY-type units described in this section of the website) the exterior part of the ceramic element/candle which the untreated water encounters first is composed of high density ceramic materials. These materials are compressed so tightly that bacteria and other micro-organisms have extreme difficulty passing through this barrier.

Individual manufacturers use various procedures for manufacturing their ceramic elements, and as we have noted above, have resulted in varying degrees of effectiveness in removing bacteria.

Most bacteria have nominal sizes of 0.2 microns to several microns. One micron is equivalent to 1/1000 of a millimeter. A millimeter is 1/1000 of a meter. Hence, the designation "micron" which is 1/1,000,000 of a meter.

Viruses, which can also cause various health problems, have dimensions far less than 0.2 microns and must be dealt with separately as described below in "Tips for Virus Removal" in the section on the WaterWorks II hand filter.

Most ceramic systems utilize some type of silver compound, impregnated in various fashions into the ceramic element to reduce any bacterial accumulations which might occur when bacteria "grow through" or accumulate in the ceramic with time.

This "grow through" process is known as "MITOSIS" and is the name given for normal cell division. Although the nominal density of the ceramic element(s) prevent individual bacteria from passing through the ceramic material, when cells divide(and therefore multiply in number), this "Mitosis" effect can occur.

This "grow through" effect can be reduced by periodic cleaning and/or sterilization of the ceramic element exterior surface. Manufacturers provide "scrubbing" pads to periodically remove the exterior layer of ceramic(containing bacteria).

If this cleaning process is not conducted on a regular basis when the filter system is in use(and exposed to bacteria in the untreated water), this bacterial "grow through" takes place.

As cells divide, this division is characterized by a reformation of the chromatin of the cell nucleus into a threadlike form that condenses into chromosomes, each of which separates longitudinally into two parts, one part of each chromosome being retained in each of the two new "daughter" cells.

When conditions for cellular growth(cell division) are right(proper environmental conditions such as temperature, pressure, etc) and sufficient nutrients are also present, the "threadlike forms" noted above can penetrate the ceramic structure of the elements and create bacterial cells on the inside of the element which can then migrate into the product water if periodic cleaning of the elements is not conducted as noted above.

The basic ceramic materials in DRIP FILTERS and PUMP FILTERS are therefore designed to remove and/or reduce BACTERIAL contaminants.

Some manufacturers introduce ACTIVATED CARBON into the interior of the ceramic element to remove potentially hazardous liquid and gaseous organic chemicals such as chlorine, pesticides or industrial chemicals.

With the proliferation of agricultural and industrial chemicals, the latest emergency, backpacking and survival filters combine replaceable ceramic and carbon elements.

Ceramic filters which include carbon are more time efficient than using chemicals or boiling water and more compact than the fuel needed for the boiling process. They are rapidly becoming the preferred process for international travelers(who also carry iodine tablets for pre-treating the water for any virus problem).

Dual purpose CERAMIC/CARBON elements are therefore powerful tools in combatting bacteria and chemicals in industrialized areas of the world. They also are preferred by those individuals who are preparing for domestic or international emergencies in areas which may be susceptible to both chemical and biological contamination.

Reference: See Water Conditioning & Purification magazine, March 1998, pp.66. for a good overview of ceramic technology and its applications.

etrdr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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