Elimination of viruses using filtration processes in drinking water treatment

Laboratory plant for the investigation of virus retention by membrane filtration

Human pathogenic viruses, referred to as emerging pathogens, are some of the potential pathogens under increasing discussion in terms of possible drinking water contamination. The effectiveness of various treatment methods was investigated as part of the project, with regard to virus elimination.

Many enteropathogenic viruses have an extremely low infective dose, which means that even the intake of 1 - 10 viruses can cause infection. At the same time, the detection methods for different viruses are often extremely complex and frequently not sensitive enough to detect these at the low concentrations required.

As part of the research project we therefore studied the framework conditions with regard to the effectiveness of various treatment methods established in waterworks practice to eliminate viruses. Bacteriophages, i.e. viruses that attack bacteria, were used as surrogate parameters for human pathogenic viruses, as these could be dosed at high concentrations in the laboratory and semi-technical plants to determine the removal capacity of the specific plant.

The experimental work was performed at TZW, in two reservoir waterworks and at UBA in Berlin. The results can be found in TZW publication series volume 61 and in the publications listed below.


Lipp P., Hambsch, B.: Virenrückhalt mit Membranen - Stand des Wissens. Gewässerschutz - Wasser - Abwasser (GWA) 223:16/1-16/15 (2011)

Kreißel K., Bösl M., Lipp P., Franzreb M., Hambsch B.: Study on the removal efficiency of UF membranes using bacteriophages in bench- and semi-technical scale. Water Science and Technology, 66.6:1195-1201 (2012)

Kreißel K., Bösl M., Hügler M., Lipp P., Franzreb M., Hambsch B.: Inactivation of F-specific bacteriophages during flocculation with polyaluminum chloride - a mechanistic study. Water Research, 51:144-151 (2014)

Hambsch B., Kreißel K., Lipp P., Bösl M.: Wirksamkeit der Elimination von Viren durch Filtrationsverfahren der Trinkwasseraufbereitung. Veröffentlichungen aus dem Technologiezentrum Wasser Karlsruhe, ISSN 1434-5765, TZW-Band 61 (2014)

Frohnert A., Kreißel K., Lipp P., Dizer H., Hambsch B., Szewzyk R., Selinka H.C.: Removal of surrogate bacteriophages and enteric viruses from seeded environmental waters using a semi-technical ultrafiltration unit. Food and Environmental Virology, 7:173-182 (2015)

The volumes of the TZW publications can be ordered here.