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Southern Illinois University

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Introduction to Environmental Engineering Laboratory

Section Number: -002
Experiment Name:
Lab Number:

Jar Test

Submitted by: Mark Sutton

Submitted To: Nathalia Londono
Date Performed:


Date Submitted:


Table of Contents:

Title Page


Table of Contents -------------------------------------Abstract ----------------------------------------------



Introduction ------------------------------ p.3




Results --------------------------------------



Discussion/ Conclusion----------------------------- p.4



Collected Data


----------------------------- p.5


Water in its natural state, lakes, rivers, etc., has very, very small particles suspended into
it. How small? Up to one billionth of a meter small. These particles are called colloids.
Colloids can cause water to have an off color and/or have a bad taste to it. When
colloids come into contact with chlorine (this happens at most water treatment facilities)
it creates trihalomethanes. Trihalomethanes are cancer causing agents. So it is best to
remove them from the water before we treat it with chlorine and before we drink it. To
remove them from the water, we need to do two things. First, remove any ionic charge
that they particles may have. This is done by adding chemical called alum. Alum is
aluminum sulfate that has been dissolved into 14 parts of water. The alum will bind with
the colloids getting rid of any charge they might have. The second thing we need to do
is to stir or agitate the treated water. The colloids bonded with the alum will begin to
clump together with other colloids until they are dense enough to settle out of the
solution. This is called flocculation and sedimentation. What we will show in this lab is
how to take a test sample of water and treat it with increasing levels of alum to find the
one with the best clarity and lowest amount of alum used. This will be our optimum
dosage. We want to be able to find the optimum dosage, because if we use too little of
alum we will leave the trihalomethanes in the solutions, if we use too much, we will
waste alum which wastes money for the city.

The purpose of the jar test is to determine the optimum dosage of alum needed to treat
a water sample for a water treatment facility. We will take a water sample and place
1000 mL into six beakers and treat it with an increasing amount of alum. Each beaker
will be stirred on high for one minute, stirred on low for ten minutes, allowed to set for
one hour, and finally tested in a turbidity meter. The results of the turbidity meter will
be graphed vs the amount of dose it received. By looking at this graph we will be able to
tell the optimum dosage needed.


Aluminum sulfate

Ferric sulfate (optional)

1 liter beakers

Laboratory stirrer with illuminated base


Scale for weighing coagulant


1000 mL volumetric flask

Turbidimeter (optional)

pH meter (optional)

We started with a prepared alum solution. This was prepared by our lab teaching
assistant. The concentration of the solution was ten grams of alum per one liter of
distilled water. At this concentration when one milligram per liter of alum solution is
added to one thousand milliliter of raw water (obtained from campus lake at SIUC), we
will get a concentration of ten milligram of alum per liter of raw water. Next we took six
beakers and added a half of a milligram per liter of the alum solution to the first beaker.
For each of the other beakers we increased the amount of alum by one half a milligrams
per liter until we got to beaker six. Beaker six contained three milligrams per liter of
alum. To all six we added one liter of the raw water and place them on a laboratory
stirrer. All were stirred on high for one minute, followed by stirring on low for ten
minutes. At the end of the ten minutes on low, allowed to rest for one hour. By visually
observing the six samples, we were able to determine the beaker that looked the
clearest. This was our preliminary guess as to which dosage was optimum. A turbidity
meter was used to test each sample. Each samples turbidity results were graphed vs
its alum dosage.

**see the attached page for table of recorded lab data, turbidity vs dose graph, and hand
calculations of the
dosages for the each alum amount for each beaker.

I thought when we visually inspected the beakers that number six was the clearest. By
using the turbidity meter and its resulting graph we are able to see that the optimum
dose was actually beaker number four, the one with two milligram per liter dose of alum.
When looking at the trend line on the graph to find the optimum dosage, it starts off with
a linear decreasing value; it will show a peak and then return back to a decreasing value.
It is the dosage at this value that is the one that is the optimum one. For our

experiment the peak happened at the fifteen milligram per liter dose, and returned to
back to the standard decreasing rate at twenty milligram per liter dosage.

Nazaroff, W.W. and Alvarez-Cohen, L., 2001, Environmental Engineering Science, Wiley.
Phipps and Bird, The Jar Test. http://www.phippsbird.com/jartest.html (July 2001).