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Reverse Osmosis water plant
is an increasingly popular solution in water purification. In many cases it has replaced conventional chemical deionisers. RO is popular because it removes the requirement to hold aggressive regeneration chemicals at the clients premises.
It also does not produce a chemical effluent discharge. To many industries the security of an RO membrane is attractive as is the ability to readily validate the performance of the membrane.
Our Reverse Osmosis systems are some of the best on the market and operate at are liable 70% efficiency with low energy membranes.
So in other words, for every 100 ml of impure water you put through the system, you get 70 ml of pure water to service.
This is a pretty good ratio. You may find some companies promising you 80%efficiency, but you should be careful of these, as it simply means that their systems force the membranes to work harder.
The result is that the membranes do not last as long and need to be replaced more frequently, thus reducing the overall cost effectiveness of the system.
You should also be very careful of cheaply marketed Reverse Osmosis systems, as not all RO processes are created equal.We have come across bargain basement systems that have an efficiency of 25% or less. These are simply not worth your money and time.
Some popular uses of RO are as follows:
How Reverse Osmosis Works
The osmosis process is a naturally-occurring phenomenon where less concentrated saline solution tends to migrate to a more concentrated solution. Osmosis occurs everywhere in nature, from our kidneys absorbing water from our blood,to plant roots absorbing water.
A semi-permeable membrane, usually made of thin film poly amide is used to clean water which is pumped past its input side under pressure of up to 15 bar and up to 220 psi in a cross-flow direction. From 15 to 70% of the water that passes through the membrane will do so as permeate, while the remainder leaves the membrane as a concentrate containing 99% + of the feed water TDS.
Reverse osmosis is the same process, but in reverse. This type of system will remove 99% of organic and inorganic contamination.
However,Reverse Osmosis does not work on its own. The purification process is only as good as the pre-treatment to the water that is feeding it. There are certain contaminants that will damage Reverse Osmosis, including free chlorine, calcium and magnesium.
So you have to pre treat the freed water with activated carbon to remove the free chlorine and then a water softener to strip out the calcium and magnesium,before it can be put through the RO system.
If you fail to do this, then the free chlorine in the water will degrade the membrane and let organic contaminants through, and the calcium and magnesium will scale the membrane up, reducing its efficiency and working life.
This is the reason many industries consider Reverse Osmosis to be wasteful, time consuming and expensive. The conventional alternative is deionisation.
All RO systems depend on good pre treatment to the feed water. This is achieved by the use of Organic Scavengers, Activated carbon media and base exchange Water Softeners.
It is true to say that excellent pre treatment is a requirement for long, reliable and efficient Reverse Osmosis operation.
Reverse Osmosis membranes will not tolerate any form of hydraulic shock. It is important that RO is installed in a carefully designed purified water system with all of the necessary safeguards and monitoring.
This is where an ongoing partnership with the experts at Chewy wood Water Systems will pay dividends.
Chemical attack happens when a membrane comes into contact with an oxidizer like chlorine, which will burn the membrane and effect performance. Activated carbon is a pre requisite for this purpose.
Benefits and Disadvantages
A reverse osmosis system effectively removes contaminants like progeny and colloids, and is easy to monitor and confirm performance.
The waste stream, (concentrate) is flushed to drain during plant operation. Because of this 70% of the feed water is recovered as purified water, (permeate).
Common Mistakes Made With Reverse Osmosis Systems
Why do mistakes happen?
A Reverse Osmosis plant only works properly if three factors are taken into consideration:
1.Correct professional installation
2.Thorough pre-treatment of water to remove inorganic and chemical contaminants
3.Regular maintenance of the plant, including cleaning of membranes and replacement where necessary.
It goes without saying, therefore, that mistakes arise to the extent that these three factors are neglected or ignored. Problems arise in reverse osmosis systems in cases where:
The plant has been poorly designed or installed incorrectly
Input water has been insufficiently treated to remove chlorine, calcium and magnesium Membranes are not regularly cleaned or replaced, or the plant pumps are not sufficiently maintained
Signs there are problems with your Reverse osmosis system
The following should be seen as an early warning sign that something is not completely right with your RO plant. If you notice anything like this through routine monitoring or inspection, get on the phone to one of our engineers right away, before a serious issue occurs.
Reverse osmosis recovery rate is less than 70%:
For any well-designed RO system, 70% recovery of permeate should be the golden standard you should look for.
Should it drop below this figure, it should be treated as a Canary in the cage that some maintenance is required.
It may be that your membranes need cleaning or replacing, or that you need to get some one in to have a look at the workings of your system.
Membranes are becoming clogged and/or scaled up:
Membranes should be regularly cleaned in order to prevent buildup of organic material or calcium deposits.
However, they do also need to be periodically replaced. With a well-designed and operated unit you can realistically expect a three-yearlife span for your membranes before they should be monitored closely for signs they need replacing.
A common (and costly) mistake some businesses make is to replace membranes when a simple cleaning would suffice to improve performance.
The inclusion of a CIP rig in your reverse osmosis installation will help extendthe active life of your membranes and save money in operating costs.
Is Reverse Osmosis Right for you?
If you are unsure about the benefits of reverse osmosis for your application, our team members can help.
They can not only recommend the right system for you, but can also answer your questions about any type of water purification system and technology available.