The methods of filtration used for water treatment vary greatly. Filtration includes all processes that mechanically separates a mixture of liquid and solid or dissolved substances into liquid (filtrate) and substances. The selection of the filtration process or multiple process steps is determined by the quality of the raw water and the requirements for the pure water (drinking or process water). The minimum size of the solids to be held back is defined via the separation limit of the filter.

Problem substances

Problem substances occurring often in raw water are:

  • Sand, solids, turbidities and particles
  • Broken out incrustations from pipelines
  • Iron, manganese and arsenic
  • Aggressive carbonic acid
  • Pesticides (PBSMs) and chlorinated hydrocarbons (CHCs)
  • Impurities from circulation of water (e.g. condensate/steam cycle)
  • Accumulation through concentration at circulation water
  • etc.

Special cases

Filtration via activated carbon or other adsorbing filter materials (adsorption) and chemical deacidification are also classed as filtration processes.

Separation limits

This overview shows a rough correlation of the filtration processes and their use depending on the separation limits.


Graphic separation limits

Fine filtration

When using drinking water from the community water supply, the raw water from kilometres of pipe networks can be contaminated with rust, sand, broken out incrustations and other solids. These solids can be filtered out with cartridge filters. Cartridge filters are not suitable for removing larger quantities of dirt. In case of large quantities of dirt, the agglomeration of solids on the cartridge surface can lead to a rapid increase in the differential pressure. Cartridge filters are used particularly as protective filters.

Gravel filtration and multi-layer filtration

Multi-layer filtration

In contrast to cartridge filtration, gravel filtration, in particular the multi-layer filtration variant (filter gravel + hydro-anthracite), represents a deep-bed filtration. With multi-layer filtration, the water passes through various layers of filter material with increasing fineness in the direction of filtration. Dirt is agglomerated in the various layers of the filter depending on its size. Multi-layer filters can take up large quantities of solids. Gravel filtration or multi-layer filtration, in conjunction with flocculation, is used in particular in the treatment of river water. In these cases filtration is often preceded by a sedimentation stage as the initial process step. Gravel and multi-layer filters are cleaned regularly via back-flushing.

Information centre water treatment
ContactManfred Brugger

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