Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Angela R. Bielefeldt

Second Advisor

R. Scott Summers

Third Advisor

Karl Linden


Ceramic water filters are used for point-of-use drinking water treatment in many developing countries. However, the typical ceramic pot filters (CPF) produce a limited amount of water per family. This research explored a simple method to increase the water volume treated per day by adding a second 5-gallon plastic bucket inserted and sealed onto the top of the standard CPF. This so-called enhanced ceramic water filtration system (ECWF) was then evaluated to characterize flow rates and clogging over time, turbidity removal, and E. coli disinfection. The research tested two CPFs from Nicaragua and two CPFs from Cambodia in both a standard ceramic water filtration system (CWF) and ECWF.

The amount of water treated over the first hour when the system was initially filled were 2.4 to 3.4 times more for the Nicaragua CPFs and 3.7 to 4.2 times more for the Cambodia CPFs when operated in the ECWF compared to the CWF. The ECWF was successful at removing up to 500 NTU of turbidity and increased the first hour flow rates and cumulative volume filtered >300%. Overall, the enhanced flow rates of the ECWF system did not significantly affect the ability of the ceramic to remove E. coli compared to the CWF.

There were operational difficulties that could not be overcome to a level that would be desired to implement in the field. The different CPF dimensions from different factories and the inconsistency in the filters made it difficult to find buckets that fit exactly for the ECWF system. The ECWF system also resulted in water short circuiting through the glue and around the gasket when the top bucket did not seal correctly. The risk of cracking increased tremendously under the enhanced flow rates due to the added stress on the ceramic. During these experiments with 5 different filters, 2 filters cracked while being used in the ECWF system. Though increased flow rates would be desired for household use, the ECWF system is not recommended without further investigation of the leakage issues and quality control during production to ensure uniform geometry.