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Selection of Sand Filtration Rates

Author(s): John L. Cleasby and E. Robert Baumann

Source: Journal (American Water Works Association), Vol. 54, No. 5 (MAY 1962), pp. 579-602
Published by: American Water Works Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41256793
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Selection of Sand Filtration Rates

A contribution to the Journal by John L. Cleasby, Assoc. Prof., and

E. Robert Baumann, Prof., both of the Civil Eng. Dept., Iowa State
University, Ames, Iowa.

engineer selecting the design high-lift pump, constant-head tank, and

rate for a sand filter in a new three plexiglass filters. Each filter
plant or in an expansion of an old was equipped with a turbidimeter and
plant should decide whether he will flow rate controller. Parallel opera-
adhere to the long-established 2-gpm tion of the three identical filters at
/sq ft rates or try higher rates with the different rates would permit evaluation
use of the new polyelectrolyte coagu- of the filter variables.
lant aids. He should consider the ef-
Influent Water Sources
fect of higher rates on water quality,
filter run length, and percentage of Water was filtered from :
product used in backwashing. 1. The Ames municipal wells - raw,
This article might help the engineer aerated well water that contains 8-9
make these decisions. The observa- ppm total iron. Copper sulfate was
tions reported have been made in 3 added at 0.5 ppm as copper, and the
years of pilot scale research on high water was mixed in a slow-speed mix
filtration rates at the Iowa State Uni- tank to assure complete precipitation
versity sanitary engineering labora- of the hydrous ferric oxide floe.
tories and at the Ames, Iowa, munici- 2. Iowa State University tap water,
pal water treatment plant. A total of to which ferrous sulfate solution was
32 experimental filter runs were con- added through a constant-head capil-
ducted at filtration rates of 0.7-9 lary tube feeder to yield the desired
gpm/sq ft. iron concentration of S ppm. The
mixture was aerated and mixed in a
Apparatus and Procedure slow-speed mix tank to form the hy-
Two approaches were possible in drous ferric oxide floe.
investigating filter rates. The first 3. Ames city tap water, to which
approach would be to operate one filter ferric chloride solution was added to
at various rates in succeeding experi- yield an iron content of 8 ppm, fol-
ments. The second would be to oper- lowed by the treatment used with the
ate several filters simultaneously, each university tap water.
at a different rate. Because of the 4. Filter influent water of the Ames
difficulty of maintaining a constant municipal water treatment plant. This
filter influent quality for an extended water was diluted with tap water in
period, the latter alternative was se- some filter runs to adjust it to a de-
lected. A pilot plant was constructed sirable turbidity level and to aid in its
with a raw-water pump, mix tank, stabilization prior to its use in the pilot

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580 J. L. CLEASBY & E. R. BAUMANN Jour. AW W A

filters. The Ames municipal water 30-min theoretical detention time at a

treatment plant uses a typical split- pumping rate of 6 gpm.
treatment, lime-soda ash softening The slow-speed mix tank was also
process. The treatment steps include used when filtering the lime-soda ash
aeration, chemical addition, mixing, softened water from the Ames munici-
settling, recarbonation, sludge addition, pal plant. Water was pumped to the
mixing, settling, recarbonation, filtra-
mixing tank from the recarbonation
tion, chlorination, fluoridation, and
tank effluent. The mixing time aided
metaphosphate stabilization.
in completing the recarbonation re-
Pilot Plant Apparatus action, thus providing a more stable
All components of the pilot plant water to the pilot plant filters. In some
were designed to enable operation of filter runs, tap water was added to the


Quality of Effluent From Typical Filter Runs

£°t"e Iron,«.m Irltppm Iron' **" TmMUy umU Turbidity unit,


Min. End of Min. End of Min. End of Min End of Min. End of
Level* Runt Level* Runf Level* Runf Level* Runf Level* Runf

1 0.08 0.07 3.9 0.2 0.2

2 0.09 0.12 0.28 7.2 0.3 0.3 0.13 0.30
3 0.03 0.02 1.4 7.2 0.3 0.3 0.16 0.69
4 0.18 0.22 0.01 0.03 0.22 0.81
5 0.02 0.02 0.5 0.7 0.25
6 0.28 0.50 0.03 0.01 0.35 0.93
7 0.03 0.03 0.6 0.6 0.55
8 0.11 0.05

* Attained shortly after the initial improvement period,

t Generally at head loss of approximately 6 ft.

the three filters at any desired rate be- Ames filter influent water to regulate
tween 1 and 10 gpm/sq ft. turbidity and aid in stabilization.
Raw-water pump to the mixing tank. High-lift pump to the constant-head
A close-coupled centrifugal pump was tank. A 3,450-rpm, close-coupled, cen-
used to pump the water from the aera- trifugal pump was used to pump water
tor or from the filter influent of the from the slow-speed mix tank to the
Ames municipal plant to the mixing constant-head tank.
tank. Constant-head tank. All water to
Slow-speed mix tank. A mixing be filtered was pumped to a constant-
tank 3 ft high and 3.5 ft in diameter head tank 12 in. in diameter and 18 in.
equipped with a slow-speed paddle was deep equipped with a 10-in. overflow
used to provide the necessary deten- weir. The tank was located to provide
tion time to complete the iron precipi- 10 ft of head above the filter sand sur-
tation reaction. The tank provided a face. The water flowed by gravity to

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the three filters from the constant-head the water level in the tubes to approxi-
tank. mately the middle of the board, thus
Pilot sand filters. Three sand filters, facilitating reading.
shown in Fig. 1 and 2, were con- Filter sand. Filter sand was ob-
structed of 6-in. inside-diameter plexi- tained from a nearby gravel company.
glass tubes i in. thick and S3 in. long. Several grades of sand were analyzed
This diameter provides a sand surface using US Standard sieves. The sand
area of 0.196 sq ft in each filter. Com- used in the pilot plant had an effective
bination piezometer and sampling con- size of 0.5 mm and a uniformity coeffi-
nections of i-in. inside-diameter plexi- cient of 1.89 in Runs 1-25. After Run
glass tubing were installed at close in- 25, a uniform sand falling between a
tervals through the same depth. The 20 mesh (0.84 mm) and 30 mesh (0.59
inside ends of the piezometer connec- mm) sieves was used.
tions were 2, 3, or 4 in. from the inner Flowmeters. Effluent from each
face of the filter shell, alternating to filter passed through a variable-area
prevent two adjacent sampling points glass tube, float-type, flow meter suit-
from lying one directly beneath the able for measuring water flow of 0.2-2
other. The inner end of the ^-in. gpm. The flowmeters were calibrated
plastic tube was molded to permit the by determining the time to fill a 2-liter
easy entrance of water but to prevent volumetric flask.
the passage of sand. The underdrain Turbidimeters. Each filter effluent
system for each filter was 9 in. of was monitored by a photoelectric tur-
graded gravel placed over a perforated bidimeter that used a nephelometric
aluminum cup that was centered over method to measure turbidity. The
the £-in. filter effluent and backwash problems of low-level turbidity moni-
connection. Sand 30 in. deep was toring and the use of this turbidimeter
placed above the gravel. Filter influ- have been discussed in a previous arti-
ent water entered approximately 13 in. cle.1 The turbidimeter is easily read
above the sand surface through a f-in. to a fineness of 0.02 unit. The absolute
pipe connection. Backwash water values of turbidity, however, are sub-
flowed out through a f-in. pipe connec- ject to the weaknesses inherent in the
tion in the top flange of the filter. standard method of calibration.2
Immediately outside the filter, each Rate-of-flow controllers. The efflu-
piezometer connection was provided ent from each turbidimeter passed into
with a glass T. One connection led to a float-operated rate-of-flow controller.
a piezometer board and the other con- The controller maintained a constant
nection had a capillary tube and screw rate of filtration by holding a constant
clamp for sampling purposes. The head on a needle valve outlet. The
piezometer boards were 10 ft long and float chamber was 9 in. wide, 9 in.
equipped with nine 4-mm inside- long, and 12 in. deep. Needle valves
diameter glass tubes. The upper ends of ^ in., f-in. float valves, and 4-in.
of the piezometer tubes were connected diameter copper floats were provided.
to a manifold header to permit the Piping was arranged to pass all or any
application of a small constant pressure portion of the filter effluent through the
on all tubes. The pressure was ex- turbidimeter before the effluent was
erted by a rubber squeeze bulb used at discharged to the float chamber. The
the beginning of each run to depress rate-of-flow controllers functioned re-

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I ^v ' -in. Inlet Connection From
Constant Head Tank

.' .* '• *i^_iki ' 1. _„ d

• • • • • • • co

Z d i -'"• Piezometer
00 io /" Connection

-1-r^ io /" - Connection i


C3 d ^so^o

0.2-2 gpm

« ? Photoelectric
* Turbidimeter ^

Rate of Flow

Fig. 1. Filter and Control Equipment

Piezometer connection shown is typical of nine such connections.

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markably well. Occasionally the float TPTZ are required to chelate each fer-
valve might stick for a moment, and rous ion. Both reagents are specific
when it was suddenly released, a surge only for the soluble ferrous ion.
of flow might pass through the filter. Therefore, the normal method for total
When this occurred, some of the previ- iron involves dissolving and reducing
ously deposited sediment would be any precipitated iron with acid and
flushed through the filter, resulting in hydroxyl ammonium chloride before
a drop in head loss. The further re- analysis. Heat is sometimes required
sults for such a run were invalid, and to complete the solution of precipitated
the run was terminated. Fortunately, iron. The reagents can be purchased
this rarely occurred. in a powder that will dissolve and re-
duce the iron in a single step, without
Analytic Methods
In addition to the turbidimetric efflu-
ent monitoring, waters containing iron
floe particles were monitored by mak-
ing colorimetric determinations of the
effluent iron content. As several thou-
sand analyses of total iron were re-
quired during the experimental work,
a simple, accurate method of iron
analysis was desirable.
During the first year of the research,
the phenanthroline method was se-
lected 2 because it is the standard
method for the water supply field.
This method, however, is not sensitive
enough when iron is being measured
at the low levels of typical filter efflu-
ents, generally less than 0.3 ppm. For
this reason, a new reagent that has Fig. 2. Filters and Bottoms of
Piezometer Boards
greater sensitivity for low levels of
iron was used. The properties and
use of this reagent, 2,4,6-tripyridykr- Inside diameter of filter tubes is 6 in.
triazine (TPTZ) have been reported heating. These reagents were used to
elsewhere.3 speed up the analyses.
The reagent 1,10-phenanthroline re- No interfering ions were present in
acts with the ferrous ion to yield an the Ames water in sufficient quantity
orange-red color that obeys Beer's law to affect the accuracy of the results.
and is therefore suited to colorimetric Color was observed on either a photo-
determination. Three molecules of electric filter photometer or a photo-
1,10-phenanthroline chelate each fer- electric spectrophotometer.
rous ion. TPTZ, on the other hand,
Effluent Water Quality
reacts with the ferrous ion to yield an
intense violet color that obeys Beer's
law and is also suited to colorimetric In evaluating filter operation, it is
determination. Two molecules of necessary to set a standard of accept-

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18 I T I I I I I | I
I ' Run 23

1.5 - I ' -
J '*

i 0.9 - (' V i f'.

o 0.9 - V i ^. -


0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80

Fig. 3. Initial Effluent Improvement

After water in filter has been displaced, turbidity drops to minimum. Numbers by
curves indicate filtration rate in gallons per minute per square foot.

0.6 - Run 23 >^ -

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18
Filtrate Volume -gpm-hr

Fig. 4. Effluent Iron Content and Filtrate Volume

Observations for curves were made after initial improvement period. Numbers by
curves indicate filtration rate. Curve along X marks indicates constant pressure.
Rate of this run started at 6 gpm/sq ft and decreased as head loss increased.

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able water quality. Because the water on the candle turbidimeter and diluted
is virtually sterile as it is pumped from to the desired level. As it is unlikely
the wells, a bacterial evaluation would that absolute zero-turbidity water was
be of little value. used in making the dilutions, the abso-
In runs filtering water containing lute level of the turbidity is subject to
precipitated iron, an iron content in the question.
effluent greater than 0.3 ppm was con- In this study, a maximum level of
sidered unsatisfactory. This meets 0.5 unit of effluent turbidity was arbi-
USPHS drinking water standards.4 trarily set as a desirable goal.
In runs filtering influent water of
the Ames municipal plant, the effluent Filtration Rate and Effluent Quality
quality was evaluated on the basis of
its turbidity content. USPHS drink- Many engineers and water plant per-
ing water standards limit turbidity to sonnel are lulled into a false sense of
5 units; however, many plants strive security by the use of the long-standard


Average Filter Influent Quality

Total Alkalinity* - ppm T

Run Teo£P- £easrst
*»* (co,)- (Hcos)- umts
18 56-58 83 28 24 9.2 5 unstable plant operating one well
9 at 1,100 gpm
19 56-57 82-89 26 25 9.3 9 unstable plant operating two wells
14 at 1,400 gpm
24 59-63 79-85 22 15 9.2 7 stable plant operating two wells
0 at 1,650 gpm; influent
diluted with tap water§
25 61-63 83-89 20 21 9.2 6 stable same as above

* Expressed as CaCOi.
t As measured with turbidimeter.
t As indicated by drop in alkalinity and hardness through the dirty filter, ppm CaCOs.
§ To control turbidity and stability.

for a much better water quality. This filtration rate of 2 gpm/sqft. It

is because "turbidity greater than about should be emphasized that acceptable
0.5 unit may be noticeable to the con- water is not assured at 2 gpm/sq ft,
sumer when the water is held in a or even at lower rates, unless adequate
white enamel container." 5 pretreatment is provided. On the
Less than 0.2 unit of turbidity is a other hand, with adequate pretreat-
desirable goal.6"8 It is doubtful, how- ment, acceptable water can usually be
ever, that the techniques that have obtained at higher rates.
been used in establishing this goal George W. Fuller is usually given
would yield valid results at this level. credit for establishing the standard
Turbidity in the reported studies was 2-gpm/sqft rate. In his initial work,
measured by the Baylis turbidimeter Fuller had no control over the rates
calibrated against suspensions observed used m the proprietary devices tested.

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Later he was limited to less than 2 decline during the filter run. Figure 3
gpm/sqft by the physical limitations demonstrates the typical initial im-
of the apparatus. Fuller 9 shows that provement in effluent iron content at
he was aware that he had not reached the various filtration rates in Run 23.
the upper limit of desirable nitration Figure 4 shows typical effluent iron
rates : content as observed in Run 23 follow-

In the judgment of the writer, it would ing the initial improvement period.
be advisable to construct the [Louisville] The effect of filtration rate on efflu-
plant on the basis of 100 mgd . . . with ent quality (Table 1) varied for the
the knowledge that in all probability, the different influent water types. When
rate would be safely increased to a con- filtering Ames water and added ferric
siderable degree in meeting the demand chloride, acceptable water could not be
for a greater consumption of water.
obtained at rates as low as 1 gpm/sq ft.
Fuller's conclusions are supported by On the other hand, when filtering Uni-
this study. versity tap water and added ferrous


Effluent Turbidity

Turbidity - ppm

Filtration *
Rate Run 18* Run 19* Run 24 Run 25
gpm/sq ft

Initialt Final* Initialt Final}: Initialt Final* Initialt Final*

1 0.2 0.2 0.14 0.14

2 0.3 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.16 0.21 0.13 0.30
3 0.3 0.3 0.4 0.7 0.16 0.34 0.16 0.69
4 0.36 1.16 0.22 0.81
5 0.5 0.7 0.7 0.9 0.25
6 0.3 0.3 0.5 1.7 0.5 1.2 0.35 0.93
7 0.6 0.6 0.55

* Values less reliable than those of later runs,

t After initial improvement period,
t At terminal head loss of 5-6 ft.

Effluent water quality was the poor- sulfate, filtration rates as high as 8
est near the beginning of each filter gpm/sqft had little effect on quality.
run. Turbidity or iron content reached Filtration of the Ames filter influent
a peak at approximately the theoretical water resulted in poorer quality at
time required to displace the water higher rates, but fairly uniform quality
from the filter and the turbidimeter. throughout the filter run at any given
This observation has been reported by time. Dilution of this water with city
others.10 The effluent turbidity then tap water to regulate stability, how-
quickly improved to some minimum ever, changed the filtering characteris-
level. At the lower rates of filtration, tics with the result that effluent quality
this level was maintained throughout declined as the filter runs progressed.
the filter run. At the higher filtration A similar effluent behavior was noted
rates, effluent quality might gradually in the filtration of Ames raw water

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with copper sulfate added to aid in fluent were in the range of 1-10 /x; a
the iron precipitation. few particles as large as 40 /x were
A water of zero turbidity or zero observed. The particles were observed
iron content was never achieved in any with a counting chamber and a cali-
of the filter runs, even at rates as low brated ocular micrometer in the eye-
as 0.7 gpm/sqft. piece of the microscope. Observations
The observed behavior of effluent were made at 100- and 430-power
quality might be expected because the magnification. It is possible that some


Run 23 XS yr


0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18
Filtrate Volume -gpm-hr

Fig. 5. Total Head Loss and Filtrate Volume

No optimum-rate tendency appears. Uncontrolled run (along X marks) started at

6 gpm/sq ft and was allowed to decrease in rate as head loss increased.

suspended particles being filtered were particles were smaller than 1 fx but
heterogeneous in size and, most likely, could not be seen.
also in charge characteristics. The With this range in particle size, one
hydrous ferric oxide particles were would expect the smaller fractions to
generally in the range of 1-20 fx in size, be less easily filtered. Therefore, the
most being about 5 /a. Calcium car- increment of quality improvement at
bonate particles in the Ames filter in- successively lower rates would become

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588 J. L. CLEASBY & E. R. BAUMANN Jour. AW W A


Run 18 V

1I I2 r I1 r v


0 5 10 15 20 25 30
Filtrate Volume -gpm-hr

Fig. 6. Total Head Loss and Filtrate Volume

Ames filter influent was used while plant operated one well at 1,100 gpm.
In this run, optimum-rate tendency appeared at all flow rates.

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smaller and smaller because the par- the percentage of product used in
ticles remaining are the most difficult backwashing.
fraction to remove. As rates are pro- Current research has shed some in-
gressively increased, the quality will teresting light on the factors that in-
decline more and more rapidly as the fluence operating costs. Several reports
more easily removed particle fractions have been made on the production of
are forced through the bed. water per filter run at various filtration
rates. An analysis of these data re-
Function of the Filter veals no consistent relation between
water production per filter run and
It can be concluded from the experi- filtration rate.
mental observations that:
The data in some reports on high-
1. All filters pass some suspended rate filtration indicate less water pro-
material throughout the entire filter
duction or no increase in production
run. This is supported by the conclu-
sions of other workers who monitor
filter effluent with sensitive devices.11
Relative Water Production*
2. The amount of suspended mate-
rial that passes through the filter is Filtration
generally increased by higher filtration Rate Run 18 Run 19 Run 24 Run 25
rates. This increase in suspended
material might be so small, however, 1 0.8 0.6f
as to be insignificant for a given water. 2 1111

3. The selection of standard filtra- 3 1.93 1.42 1.23f 1.03

4 1.52 1.21
tion rates does not assure good filter 5 2.65 1.47
effluent quality. With some waters 6 2.32 1.84 1.40 1.21
poor quality can result at standard 7 2.07
filtration rates or even lower. ♦Terminal total head loss of 5 ft; production of 2
gpm/sq ft considered unity,
In view of these observations, the t Estimated by extrapolation.
proper function of the filter in the
treatment process can be defined as per run as rates are increased.10'12"18
polishing the water and assuring a Curves for head loss as against time
crystal-clear, low-turbidity water. The in most of these studies were linear or
filter can never be relied on as the
nearly linear. The studies indicate
final safeguard of public health. Dis- that acceptable water can be produced
infection is necessary for this. at rates up to 5 gpm/sqft, but that
Factors in Rate Selection
special care must be exercised in pre-
treatment with coagulation aids during
The two chief factors that govern periods of weak coagulation. The
the selection of the design rate for the data in other reports indicate better
filters are: (1) production of water water production per run or per foot
of acceptable clarity, and (2) maxi- of increase in head loss as filtration
mum overall economy, with invested rates increased.11'19"25 With one ex-
capital and operating costs taken into ception,24 curves for head loss as
consideration. Operating costs, in against time were not linear ; head loss
turn, are affected by such factors as increased at a more rapid rate as the
water production per filter run and filter run progressed.

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590 J. L. CLEASBY & E. R. BAUMANN Jour. AW W A

The relative economy of high-rate of head loss increase. Data expressed

filtration from the standpoint of water in these two ways are not comparable.
produced per run has not been fully The filtration rate that results in
investigated under controlled condi- maximum production per filter run will
tions. Some waters are such that usually result in the minimum per-
higher rates yield deeper penetration centage of the product used in back-
and greater production for a given washing. This rate might be called
head loss increase. Other waters do the "optimum filtration rate." It must
not demonstrate this improved produc- be emphasized, however, that capital

5 1 i ' ' ' ~P T' 3» '

Run24 / / s S* j/0*

or iiii

0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40
Filtrate Volume -gpm-hr

Fig. 7. Total Head Loss and Filtrate Volume

Ames filter influent, equally diluted with tap water, was used, Ames plant was oper-
ating with two wells at total rate of 1,650 gpm.

tion. The studies reported represent and labor costs have not been included
a variety of water characteristics and in this definition.
filter details. Some were pilot scale or
Experiments With No Optimum Rate
laboratory scale studies with good con-
trol and high terminal head loss ; some A series of experimental pilot plant
were plant scale studies in which con- runs was made to determine whether
trol of conditions and terminal head filtration has an optimum rate from
loss were limited by the physical ar- the standpoint of maximum volume of
rangement of the plant. Some of the acceptable water produced per filter run.
reports indicate production per run, When filtering water containing pre-
and others indicate production per foot cipitated hydrous ferric oxide particles,

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no pronounced optimum rate was ap- indicated volume. As the sand filter
parent. Figure 5, for Run 23, is a area in the pilot filters is 0.196 sqft,
typical curve for total head loss as it is a simple matter to compute the
against volume of filtrate for this type relationship between volume and area
of filter influent water. (gpm-hr/sqft) if so desired.
As the plotting of total head loss as Consider a simple example with a
against filtrate volume in Fig. 5 is also filtration rate of 4 gpm/sqft and a
used in other figures, some explana- filtrate volume of 10 gpm-hr. This is
tion might aid the reader to interpret equivalent to a volume of 600 gal. The
the curves correctly. The ordinate, filtration rate is (4 gpm/sq ft) X (0.196
total head loss, represents the total sq ft) = 0.784 gpm. The run length
drop in pressure (feet of water) from to produce the indicated volume is
the top piezometer tube above the sand 10 gpm-hr/0.784 gpm = 12.8 hr.
to the bottom piezometer tube in the Filter influent water in Runs 16,
gravel layer, including the clean-bed 22, and 23 (Run 23, as shown in
head loss. The head loss is given at Fig. 5 is typical) had the following
the actual water temperature of the characteristics :
filter run as noted in the tabulations Characteristic Range
of filter influent water quality data. Total iron 7-9 ppm
No attempt was made to correct for Ferrous iron 0-0.07 ppm
viscosity changes so that the data could Temperature
Runs 16 & 23 57-58°F
be expressed at a standard tempera- Run 22 57-62°F
ture, because temperature changes re- pH 7.5-7.7
sult in other more important head loss
influences that cannot be evaluated. Certain general characteristics are
Thus, to correct for one variable and evident in Fig. 5. The curves are
not for the others might tend to ob- nearly linear, particularly at the higher
scure the true importance of tempera- filtration rates. The curves also tend
ture changes on head loss development. to be parallel. No pronounced opti-
The temperature change during any mum rate is present with nearly linear
filter run never exceeded 5°F, and was curves, and the lowest filtration rate
generally less than 3°F. will generally produce the largest vol-
The abscissa, filtrate volume, is ex- ume of water for a given terminal head
pressed in the volume unit, gallons per loss. Effluent quality at a terminal
minute, multiplied by the time in hours. loss of 6 ft was acceptable, except at
This volume unit was selected because rates of 6 gpm/sq ft or above.
it is readily determined as the product
Experiments With Optimum Rate
of the experimental observations made,
rate and time. This unit of volume When filtering the influent water of
can also be converted readily to run the Ames municipal lime-soda ash sof-
length (hours) or to volume expressed tening plant, a pronounced tendency
in gallons or gallons per square foot for greater production per run was
of filter area. One gallon per minute- apparent as filtration rates were in-
hour (1 gpm-hr) is equal to 60 gal. creased. In some runs, the production
This volume divided by rate (gallons reached an optimum at some medium
per minute) will yield the duration in filtration rate, and decreased at higher
hours of the run that produced the rates. Figures 6 and 7, for Runs 18

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and 24 respectively, are typical curves where 152 and 121 per cent of the
for total head loss as against volume standard rate production was obtained,
of filtrate for this type of water. The respectively, in Run 24 and 25. The
chemical characteristics of the influent terminal turbidity at the optimum rate
water during these filter runs are was above the acceptable level of 0.5
shown in Table 2. unit. Therefore, the desirable operat-
Certain general characteristics are ing rate would be between 3 and 4
apparent in Fig. 6 and 7. At the lower gpm/sq ft.
rates of filtration, the head loss in- When filtering, a less stable, more
creases faster as the run progresses. turbid influent water, as is produced
At higher filtration rates, this tendency
is reduced. The curves can approach
linearity at high filtration rates, as in
Fig. 7. In Fig. 6 and 7, beyond the
rate at which the curves most nearly
become linear, higher rates resulted in
head loss curves that were nearly par-
allel. The optimum rate, where maxi-
mum production for a given head loss
will occur, is the lowest rate at which *f 4 - / Run 23 "~
the head loss development approaches 5 / o Total Head Loss
linearity. | 3 _ / • Top I-in. Layer -
Effluent turbidity (Table 3) was not / a 2-ft 4-in. Layer
always satisfactory at the higher filtra-
tion rates. Therefore, the optimum
rate from the standpoint of production
might not be a feasible rate because
water quality is unacceptable. Table 4
shows relative production to a 5-ft
terminal total head loss (including ini-
tial clean-bed head loss) in Runs 18, j£s_L - i - i - i -
0 12 3 4 5
19, 24, and 25. Filtration Rate -gpm/sq ft
Study of Tables 3 and 4 reveals that Fig. 8. Demonstration of Laminar Flow
when filtering a fairly high-quality in- in Dirty Filter
fluent water, as is produced with one Demonstration was made after a run at
well operating at the Ames municipal 4 gpm/sqft with water containing hy-
plant (Run 18), the optimum filtration drous ferric oxide.
rate lies between 3 and 5 gpm/sqft.
Expected production per run will be when the Ames municipal plant oper-
over twice the production at the stand- ates more than one well, the optimum
ard rate of 2 gpm/sqft. Rates in rate had not been reached even at 6
excess of 5 gpm/sq ft result in reduced gpm/sqft (Run 19). Production in-
production and reduced water quality. creased steadily as the filtration rate
Runs 24 and 25 are similar in some increased. Terminal water quality was
respects to Run 18. In these runs a not acceptable, however, even at 3
stable water of moderate turbidity was gpm/sqft. Therefore, with this type
filtered. The optimum rate from a of water, the filtration rate should be
production standpoint was 4 gpm/sq ft, governed by the acceptable water qual-

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ity and established at between 2 and lower production in Runs 18 and 19

3 gpm/sqft. (Fig. 6) than in Runs 24 and 25
It is evident that the optimum tend- (Fig. 7).
ency is more pronounced in Runs 18
Optimum-Rate Tendency
and 19, in which an unstable water was
filtered, than in Runs 24 and 25, in The test results indicate that the
which the influent water was stable. two types of water being filtered con-
The instability of the water results in tained particles that were distinctly dif-
precipitation of calcium carbonate in ferent from the standpoint of head loss
the filter bed. This unstable calcium development. The water that con-


Run 24

o Total Head Loss y^

• Top 1-in. Layer Sand y^
5 "~ a l-ft 3-in. Layer yS ~

4 _ yS - 20

{,_ / -ij

oL^^^ "T
0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.5 4.0
Filtration Rate - gpm/sq ft

Fig. 9. Demonstration of Laminar Flow in Dirty Filter

Demonstration was made after a run at 4 gpm/sqft with Ames filter influent water.

carbonate precipitate is catalyzed by tained hydrous ferric oxide particles

the calcium carbonate already removed caused nearly linear head loss develop-
in the filter. The amount of after- ment at all rates of filtration. The
precipitation is practically nil on the filter influent water of the Ames mu-
clean sand at the beginning of a filter nicipal treatment plant, which con-
run, but soon reaches an equilibrium tained principally calcium carbonate
value that is constant throughout particles, caused head loss to go up at
the rest of the filter run. After- an increasing rate as the run pro-
precipitation in the bed is a significant gressed. This tendency was most pro-
load on the filter, as evidenced by the nounced at lower rates.

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With a typical development of con- The head loss at various depths was
stant rate of head loss (straight-line observed as the rate of filtration was
plot), increased filtration rates result progressively reduced. In Fig. 8 and
in reduced water production for a 9 examples of the typical curves show
given terminal head loss. With a typi- an almost linear relation of head loss
cal development of increasing rate of to filtration rate for the full bed and
head loss (curved plot), increased for the upper layers, where turbulence
filtration rates result in greater water might be expected to develop because
production for a given terminal head of the high degree of clogging. Figure
loss. When the rate of head loss in-
creases, an optimum rate may be 71

1 'Run 24 1 ' 1 ' P

reached as the head loss development o Total Head Loss /
curve approaches linearity, and further
rate increases will result in reduced
_ - -x-^-Top ls-in. Layer /
6 _ - / x~ 3.0
• 1-ft 3-in. Layer / /
production. There are several basic - o- 3-ft 5- in. Layer / /
reasons behind these two characteristic
manners of head loss development. 5 - / / - 2.5
Hydraulic Conditions in Dirty Filter
To evaluate the reasons that might i4-///~2°?
i // / I
cause an optimum-rate tendency, it is
necessary first to study the hydraulic
conditions in a filter bed as it becomes - // / s
filled with sediment. Laminar flow in
a clean sand filter has been observed
by several investigators. This obser-
vation has also been duplicated at all
2 - '// / ~ 10
rates of filtration studied. The char-
acteristics of flow through a dirty filter,
however, have not been reported.
One researcher 25 has suggested that
the excessive passage of material ol/^l
through the filter might be associated 0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0

with the development of turbulent flow, Filtration Rate -gpm/sq ft

and he developed a "filtrability index" Fig. 10. Head Loss and Filtration Bate
for turbulent flow conditions. Valid
experimental proof of turbulent flow After run at 2 gpm/sq ft, Ames filter
was not presented. influent water was used,
According to Darcy's law for lami-
nar flow through porous media, head 8 represents a typical run with water
loss is directly proportional to the rate containing precipitated hydrous ferric
of flow. The observation of this pro- oxide. Figure 9 represents a typical
proportionality in a dirty filter, there- run on Ames filter influent water.
fore, would prove the presence of lami- The curves of Fig. 8 and 9 are
nar flow. On several occasions the slightly concave downward. Turbu-
authors observed the change in head lence would have had the opposite ef-
loss with flow rate at the end of a filter fect, because the head loss in turbulent
run when the filter was quite dirty. flow is proportional to the second

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power, approximately, of the flow rate, the remaining depth of the filter bed
as shown in the general equation permits some conclusions about the
reason for an optimum-rate tendency.
H, = rQ»

in which : In the water containing hydrous ferric

oxide particles, the head loss in the
Hf is head loss due to friction, top 1-in. layer developed in a nearly
r is resistance coefficient, linear manner, as did the head loss in
Q is flow rate in volume per unit time, the entire bed. Figure 11 is a typical
plot of the head loss in the top 1-in.
n is exponent (approximately 2, ac- layer for Run 23. Figure 5 shows the
cording to most turbulent flow typical linear development of head loss
equations). in the entire filter bed for the same
The unexpected downward concave
tendency in Fig. 8 and 9 must, there- When filtering Ames filter influent
fore, be due to some increase in perme- water, the loss in the top layer was
ability as rates are decreased. The almost entirely responsible for the typi-
permeability increase is due to reduc- cal increasing rate of head loss devel-
tion of the compressive forces exerted opment. This is illustrated for Run
by the hydraulic gradient. These 24 by the head loss development curves
forces are reduced as the flow rate is for the top 1 in. of the bed (Fig. 12)
decreased. The curvature is most pro- and for the remainder of the filter bed
nounced in the upper layers and absent (Fig. 13). It can be observed that
in the lower layers, which supports this the head loss exclusive of the surface
hypothesis. layer develops in much the same man-
After a run on Ames filter influent ner as with the water containing hy-
water at 2 gpm/sq ft, Run 24 showed drous ferric oxide precipitate. The
a nearly linear relation between head curves at different rates are nearly
loss and rate of nitration (Fig. 10). linear and parallel. The slight upward
The curve for head loss through the curvature (Fig. 13) is probably due
full bed and the top ''-m. layer are to increased load received by this por-
slightly concave upward. Turbulence tion of the filter bed as the surface
would be most apt to develop in a layer gradually becomes so dirty that
run of this type at low rates with a it removes a smaller and smaller por-
strong tendency for surface removal. tion of the applied load. Figure 12,
If there were turbulence, it should for the top 1-in. layer, shows the typi-
be in the top layers. The curve for cal increasing rate of head loss devel-
the top layer is far from the exponen- opment at lower filtration rates, with
tial type of curve for turbulent flow. tendency diminishing as rates are
It can be concluded that laminar flow increased.
conditions were found throughout all It is apparent from these typical
filter runs, in all layers of the filter, figures that the surface layer is respon-
for all waters, and for all filtration
sible for the two different types of
rates covered by this study.
head loss development. With one type
Surface and Subsurface Head Loss of head loss development, a filter will
Development have an optimum-rate tendency. With
A study of the head loss develop- the other type, the filter will have no
ment in the top layer of sand and in such tendency.

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0 *r i

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14
Filtrate Volume - gpm-hr

Fig. 11. Head Loss in the Top 1-in. Layer and Filtrate Volume

Numbers by curves indicate filtration rate. Water containing precipitated hydrous

ferric oxide particles was used.

Run 24 j

^^' |

0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40
Filtrate Volume -gpm-hr

Fig. 12. Head Loss in the Top 1-in. Layer and Filtrate Volume

Number by curves indicate filtration rate. Ames filter influent diluted with tap water
was used.

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Surface Filtration Observation by The specific cake resistance a has

Others been found to be pressure-dependent
Chemical engineers have observed for cakes that exhibit some compressi-
typical exponential head loss develop- bility. In the usual range of pressures
in industrial cake filtration, the relation
ment when filtering various types of
between « and P has been ex-
compressible precipitates on cloth fil-
ters. Such filtration might be de- pressed 27 as :
scribed as cake filtration because the a =a'P>

deposited precipitate, or cake, acts as in which :

the filtering medium except for a short a' is a constant determined largely by
period at the beginning of the filter the size of the particles forming the
run. Equations have been developed cake, and
for both constant pressure and constant- s is cake compressibility.
rate cake filtration.26 Neglecting the
head loss in the filter cloth, the equa- The cake compressibility s varies
tion for head loss development during from zero for granular incompressible
constant-rate filtration is cakes to 1 for highly compressible
cakes. For most industrial slurries, s
__ wvap (dV'* lies between 0.1 and 0.8. Combining
A*g(l - mw)' d$ /
Eq 3 and 4 for an incompressible cake
in which : yields :
V is volume of filtrate in cubic feet ;
6 is time in seconds, p=Kai~iy$
P is pressure difference across the cake
Equation 5 indicates a linear devel-
in pounds per square foot,
A is area of the filter cake normal to
opment of pressure during the filter
run. Combining Eq 3 and 4 for a
direction of fluid flow in square feet,
partially compressible cake yields :
p is density of filtrate in pounds per
cubic foot,
(dV'2 -m)0
w is weight fraction of solids in the
slurry, dV'2 1171~*
a is specific cake resistance,
v is viscosity of fluid in pounds per
foot-second , For values of s between 0 and 1,
m is weight ratio of wet cake to dry Eq 7 indicates an exponential develop-
washed cake, and ment of pressure during the filter run.
g is constant, gravitational 32 ft/sec/ Strongly increasing head loss curves
sec. have been observed when filtering iron-
coagulated water through diatomaceous
For a given slurry, all items in Eq earth filters without the aid of body
2 are constant except P, 0, -jr, and a. feed.28 In these experiments, with the
fine precoat layer acting as the only
Combining the various constants, Eq filtering medium, surface straining was
2 can be simplified as follows for con- the predominant mechanism of re-
stant rate filtration. moval. When the surface became
clogged, the head loss increased at a
p=Ka(diy° more and more rapid rate (Fig. 14).

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The head loss development is expo- eluded that the relationship of head
nential at all filtration rates and there- loss as against volume, which ap-
fore conforms with Eq 7 for cake filtra- proaches an exponential curve, is an
tion of a compressible precipitate. The indication of the formation of a partially
slope of these curves is equal to compressible surface cake. To cause
1/1 - s. Calculated values of the such exponential development of head
cake compressibility s (Fig. 14) yield loss, the surface cake must have ade-
values of 0.51 at 2, 4, and 5 gpm/sqft quate strength to bridge across the
and 0.58 at 1 gpm/sqft. sand openings and resist the hydraulic

i i I I "z7 I i s°
25 _ Run 24 S Q yS _


0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35
Filtrate Volume -gpm-hr

Fig. 13. Head Loss Excluding Top 1-in. Layer and Filtrate Volume

Numbers by curves indicate filtration rate. Ames filter influent diluted with tap water
was used.

The use of adequate body feed to forces tending to wash the deposited
preclude completely the development material deeper into the bed.
of a surface sediment layer caused the Such a surface cake development
head loss curves to become linear.28 was evident when filtering Ames filter
influent water at low rates of filtration.
Surface Removal Observations For example, a layer of calcium car-
bonate precipitate was apparent on the
On the basis of the foregoing equa- sand surface at all filtration rates in
tions for cake filtration, it can be con- Run 18. At the lowest rate, 1 gpm

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/sq ft, this layer appeared to be j^-^-in. opment. This slope was chosen on the
thick. When backwashed, the layer assumption that the initial slope, be-
disintegrated into large pieces, many fore the surface cake had time to de-
of which were as large as 1 in. These velop, would represent the linear de-
particles could not be removed by velopment in the sand layer. The in-
backwashing and resisted further dis- crease in head loss above this tangent
integration, indicating that the layer line was assumed to be the develop-
had been strongly compressed. The ment in the surface cake. This in-
surface layer was not so thick at 3 80 1

gpm/sqft and left unwashed particles

of about £ in. At 5 gpm/sqft the
layer was thin and broken into pieces
of less than -J in., most of which were
removed in backwashing.
The development of a compacted
surface layer was not evident in any
of the filter runs on water containing .
precipitated hydrous ferric oxide. Al-
though the sand surface was generally
covered with a layer of red iron pre- 11.
1 10 I /■ ft
cipitate, the layer was soft and back-
1 1 10 / I Mr /■ ft
washed from the filter without difficulty.

Conformity With Surface Cake

It can be hypothesized that head
loss development on a sand filter is
the sum of the head loss caused by tur-
bidity removal in the sand bed plus the 100 200 300 500 700 1,000
head loss caused by the surface cake Filtrate Volume -gal/sq ft
when such a cake develops during the Fig. 14. Total Head Loss and Filtrate
run. The head loss caused by turbidity Volume for Diatomite Filters
removal in the bed should develop in Without Body Feed 28
a nearly linear manner at constant Numbers by curves indicate filtration
sediment-loading rates, because the rate. Ferric chloride -coagulated water
sand will act as a rigid matrix to pre- zvith 0.15 Ib/sqft precoat was used with
vent compression of the sediment. no body feed. Influent turbidity was 1
The head loss caused by the surface unit.
cake should develop exponentially in
accordance with Eq 7. crease in head loss was plotted on log-
To test the validity of this hypothe- log paper against filtrate volume to
sis, an attempt was made to separate determine if it was exponential and
these two components of head loss de- in accordance with Eq 7.
velopment for the top sand layer for Typical curves for Run 24 indicate
all filter runs on Ames filter influent conformity with an exponential equa-
water. A tangent line representing tion (Fig. 15). The slope of the
head loss in the sand bed was fitted to curves is equal to 1/1 - s. Values of
the slope of the initial head loss devel- the cake compressibility were calcu-

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lated for all runs on Ames filter influ- ing the design filtration rate. The con-
ent water (Table 5). Some decrease sequences of higher rates in terms of
in cake compressibility is apparent at water quality, filter run length, and
higher rates. This was said by another percentage of product used in back-
observer to be a time phenomenon.20 washing are important factors. This
Less time is available for compression article, based on 3 years of pilot scale
of the cake at higher rates, and thus research, has been an attempt to show
lower values of compressibility are ob- how higher filtration rates affect these
tained. Theoretically, the cake com- factors.
pressibility should be independent of The effect of higher rates on water
quality will vary with different waters.
Several general conclusions can be
:i Run
Run 24 i 24 1 1 1 1 1 1 =fr
drawn :
1. Sand filters pass some material
at all filtration rates, even at rates well
below the long-standard rate of 2
gpm/sq ft.

<1:i- 2. The use of the standard rate does
not assure good water quality.
3. Higher rates may result in worse
£ 0.6
water quality; in some waters, how-
£ !„ 0.6 ever, the change in water quality may
be insignificant.
1 0.3

t - iftif#"
4. Therefore, the proper role of
filtration is to serve as a polishing step
to assure acceptable effluent clarity. It
o.i cannot be relied on as a final pathogen
In view of these conclusions, certain
factors should guide the consultant or
operator in selecting the operating rate
0.03 '

1 2 3 4 5 6 8 10 20 30 40
Filtrate Volume -gpm-hr for a filtration plant. He should select
Fig. 15. Surface Cake Head Loss and the rate that results in a water of ac-
Filtrate Volume ceptable clarity with the maximum
Numbers by curves indicate filtration overall economy in initial investment
rate. Ames filter influent diluted with and operating costs. The operating
tap water was used. costs are partially dependent on the
water production per run and on the
the rate. Compressibility might vary percentage of product used in back-
for the different runs because of slight washing. A rate that results in maxi-
differences in the particle characteris- mum production per filter run and,
tics. The overall average value of therefore, in minimum backwash per-
cake compressibility is 0.59. centage, was defined as the optimum
rate. Capital and labor costs have not
Summary and Conclusions been included in this optimization.
More and more water plants are Several conclusions have bearing on
using higher filtration rates. Several the ascertaining and determining of an
factors should be considered in select- optimum rate of filtration.

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1. In the filtration of suspensions mum-rate tendency is caused by the

that cause head loss to develop at an development of a compressible surface
increasing rate as the filter run pro- cake on the sand surface.
gresses, greater water production per 2. The surface cake only develops
run can be expected as rates are in- when filtering a suspension that has
creased. An optimum rate can be a strong tendency to be removed at
reached, however, beyond which fur- the surface, a suspension in which
ther rate increases result in decreased the particles have adequate internal
production. strength to resist the hydraulic shear
2. The optimum-rate tendency is ab- forces tending to wash them down into
sent when filtering suspensions that the filter.
cause head loss to develop in a nearly 3. Total head loss in the filter bed
linear manner. Head loss develop- is the sum of the surface cake head
ment curves for such suspensions are loss development and the head loss
development in the sand bed.
4. The head loss within the sand bed
Particle Compressibility* At Various develops in a linear manner because
Compression Rates
the rigid matrix of the sand grains pre-
Filtration Run Run Run Run Run
vents compression of the deposited
imfcfi 18 19 20 24 2S
5. Head loss in the compressible
Compressibility (s) surface cake increases exponentially as
the filter run progresses. The expo-
1 0.75 0.55
2 0.65 0.69 0.60 0.55 0.63
nent depends on the cake compressi-
3 0.63 0.51 0.50 0.55 bility. (It averaged 2.4 for the Ames
4 0.60 0.52 0.52 filter influent water.) This develop-
5 0.62 0.51 ment is in agreement with established
6 0.50 0.60 0.50 0.45
equations for cake filtration.
7 0.65
6. Production increases at higher
* Based on Eq 7. rates because relatively fewer particles
are removed in the surface cake. This
nearly parallel at different filtration permits greater production before a
rates. As the higher rates cause higher significant surface cake is produced.
initial head losses, lower production 7. At the optimum rate of filtration,
can be expected at any fixed terminal the surface cake influence has been
head loss. minimized and the head loss develop-
3. The optimum rate can be identi- ment approaches linearity. Above the
fied as the lowest rate at which the optimum rate, production to a given
head loss development curve becomes terminal total head loss decreases, as
most nearly linear. the underlying cause of an optimum
4. At and above the optimum rate, rate tendency has been minimized or
head loss development curves are eliminated.
nearly parallel, and resemble the curves
of a suspension with no optimum-rate Acknowledgments
tendency. This study, for which complete data
Several conclusions have bearing on have been published,29 was supported
the cause of the optimum-rate tendency : by a research grant from USPHS.
1. The increasing rate of head loss The authors wish to thank Harris
development associated with an opti- F. Seidel, Superintendent of Water

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602 J. L. CLEASBY & E. R. BAUMANN J our. AW W A

and Sewage Treatment; and John M. III : Various Kinds of Filtering Mate-
Carpenter, City Manager, Ames, Iowa, rials. Wtr. & Sew. Wks., 81:352
for their permission to locate and oper- 14. Baylis, J. R. Experience in Filtration.
ate the pilot equipment in the munici- Jour. AWWA. 29:1010 CTul. 1937).
pal treatment plant. 15. Hudson, H. E., Jr. A Method for Cal-
culating Efficiency of Filtration. Eng.
References News-Record, 114:528 (1935).
16. Hudson, H. E., Jr. Factors Affecting
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