A new sand filtration water disinfection technology is developed which relies on the antimicrobial properties of hydrophobic polycations (N-hexylated polyethylenimine) covalently attached to the sand's surface. The efficacy of the filter disinfection process was evaluated both with water spiked with E. coli and with real aqueous effluent from a wastewater treatment plant. For the former, over 7-log reduction in bacterial count was achieved. With real environmental wastewater secondary effluent samples, the E. coli concentration reduction declined to under 2 logs. This reduced inactivation efficiency compared to the model aqueous sample is likely due to the particulate or colloidal matter present that diminishes the contact between the immobilized polycation and the suspended bacteria. Preliminary sand washing methods were tested to assess potential ‘regeneration’ approaches. Potential advantages of the proposed approach over conventional disinfection in terms of eliminating harmful by-products and reducing energy consumption are discussed.

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