Part 1: Reducing the Total Costs of Operation--The Art of Membrane Cleaning
By Jantje Johnson
Most areverse osmosis (RO) systems will experience performance problems during their operating life. If corrective measurements are implemented too late, the membrane life can be significantly shortened from 3 years to, as little as, 6 months. In addition, the costs of RO operation are increased significantly because of membrane replacement costs, increased cleaning costs, and expanded manpower requirements. Performance problems can come from several sources, including fouling, pretreatment issues, design, and operation of the RO system and chemicals. Depending on the water source and its quality, the raw water needs to be pretreated before it enters the RO system. Membrane manufacturers have established parameters (1-4) that will need to be taken into consideration when designing RO systems. When exceeding these guidelines from the membrane manufacturer, the membrane warranty becomes void. In addition, the operation and maintenance of the RO systems become costly as the membrane elements foul quicker, and subsequently the costs of membrane cleaning and membrane element replacement increase. This article presents information on factors contributing to RO performance problems.
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