Sunday, 18 June 2017 05:40

Is pretreatment necessary?

If you work with an RO, you understand that the feed water must be preconditioned to protect the membranes from fouling and premature failure. An RO membrane functions much like a cross flow filter. The membrane is constructed of a porous material that allows water to pass through the membrane, but rejects up to 99% of the dissolved solids at the membrane surface. The dissolved salts are concentrated in the Reverse Osmosis reject water, or brine stream, where they are discharge to waste.

As the RO System continues to operate, the dissolved and suspended solids in the feed water tend to accumulate along the membrane surface. If these solids are allowed to build up, they eventually restrict the passage of water through the membranes, resulting in a loss of throughput. (The throughput capacity of the membranes is commonly referred to as the flux rate, and is measured in gallons per square foot of membranes surface area per day.)

Early in the development of membranes systems, little was known about which impurities in the Reverse Osmosis feed water are likely to cause fouling and a corresponding reduction in flux. Today, many of these troublesome impurity treatments have been identified, and preventive treatments have been devised that greatly reduce membranes fouling, thus prolonging the life of the RO plant.