Vertical tubular flocculator: Alternative technology for the improvement of drinking water treatment processes in rural areas

J Environ Manage. 2023 Apr 1;331:117342. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2023.117342. Epub 2023 Jan 24.


The guarantee of access to safe drinking water for rural communities is a great challenge due to the increase in contamination and deterioration of water sources. Rural areas face technological, financial, and operational limitations, having poor water quality, generally. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficiency of a vertical tubular flocculator (VTF) to be used as part of the purification process in rural areas where small flows are used. An experimental treatment system (ETS) implemented in the field was used. The VTF was implemented using PVC pipes and fittings. Tests were carried out with the same raw water used from a conventional treatment plant with aluminum sulfate as a coagulant. The optimal coagulant dose applied in the ETS was determined by the jar test. In the VTF, the length, turbidity, and flow of the raw water were varied. The hydraulic behaviour of the VTF was evaluated with the analysis of the time distribution curve of concentration of a tracer applying the Wolf-Resnick model. A low residence time VTF was obtained, representing a new efficient flocculation model for the reduction of turbidity and colour. The results showed that the turbidity of the raw water, the residence time, and the degree of agitation are important parameters in the operation and efficiency of a VTF. There was a predominance of plug flow in the reactor. The obtained results were compared with the efficiency of a conventional water treatment plant used in the study site. The results obtained indicated that this ETS that integrates a VTF with settling and filtration can be a useful tool for rural areas. It was recommended to replicate this study with wastewater, other dimensions of the VTF, to establish a specific methodology for the design of the VTF, to evaluate the dosage with dose bombs for improving the results of VTF, and to elaborate a hydraulic model for VTF.

Keywords: Drinking water; Rural areas; Small flow; Tubular flocculator; Vertical flow.

MeSH terms

  • Drinking Water*
  • Filtration
  • Flocculation
  • Wastewater
  • Water Purification* / methods


  • Drinking Water
  • Wastewater