WATER TREATMENT Membrane Technology Operator Training Manual

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CHAPTER 1.................................................................................................1
Introduction to Membrane Technology.........................................................................................1

CHAPTER 2.................................................................................................4
Four Types of Membrane Filters ...................................................................................................4

CHAPTER 3.................................................................................................7
Membrane Materials, Modules and Systems.................................................................................7

CHAPTER 4...............................................................................................12
Ultrafiltration ................................................................................................................................12

CHAPTER 5...............................................................................................18
Reverse Osmosis ............................................................................................................................18

CHAPTER 6...............................................................................................20
Factors Influencing Reverse Osmosis Performance...................................................................20

CHAPTER 7...............................................................................................23
Membrane Types and configuration............................................................................................23

CHAPTER 8...............................................................................................33
Components of Reverse osmosis unit...........................................................................................33

CHAPTER 9...............................................................................................39
RO Plant Operation.......................................................................................................................39

CHAPTER 10.............................................................................................41
Chemical Cleaning.........................................................................................................................41

CHAPTER 11.............................................................................................50
Troubleshooting..............................................................................................................................50

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Chapter 1
Introduction to Membrane Technology
Introduction
Membrane separation processes have been used for years, but they have not come to play an important role in producing potable water supplies until the past 10 years. RO (reverse osmosis) and ED (electrodialysis) are replacing phase change desalting technologies for supplying water to coastal and island communities all over the world. Nanofiltration is becoming an economical alternative to the traditional water softening processes. Tremendous improvements have been made in recent years and the utilization of membrane technology has dramatically increased in water treatment. Today membrane technology is used in wastewater treatment for water recycling. Table 1 .l lists several undesirable water contaminants, the conventional solutions for them, and corresponding membrane processes that can do the job. There are many variations on these conventional processes that could be included, but the ones listed are sufficient to illustrate that there are membrane process alternatives available to address most water problems.

What is a Membrane?
A membrane is a film. A semi-permeable membrane is a very thin film that allows some types of matter to pass through while leaving others behind. Some membranes are porous and separate materials based on size compared to the size of the pores. Others are dense films with no apparent pores that separate matter based on differences in diffusion rates through the membrane. Membranes are divided into indistinct classes based on the size of the materials they retain. MF membrane is very porous; it allows water, dissolved salts, colloidal materials, and particles that are smaller than the pores to pass through. On the other end of the spectrum, RO membrane is a dense film with no pores, only spaces in its polymeric structure that are large enough to allow water and other small, uncharged molecules to pass through.

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Constituent of concern 1. Turbidity 2. Suspended Solids 3. Biological contamination 1. Colour Odour 2. Volatile organics 1. Hardness Sulphates 2. Manganese 3. Iron 4. Heavy Metals 1. Total Dissolved solids (TDS)

Conventional process Coagulation /flocculation/settling Media Filtration Disinfection Activated carbon Chlorine +Media filtration Aeration Lime softening or Ion Exchange Ion Exchange Oxidation and filtration Same as above and ion exchange Coagulation/flocculation Distillation

Membrane process Microfiltration

Ultrafiltration

Nanofiltration

Reverse Osmosis

2. Nitrate Ion Exchange (Report no 29 from US Bureau of Reclamation technical service center) There are three primary mechanisms for the separation and transport of water and solutes across a membrane: sieving, convection, and solution diffusion.

Dead-End, Cross flow, and Transverse Flow Operation
Dead-end, cross flow, and transverse flow operation refer to the direction of flow across the membrane. The diagrams illustrate the differences between them. In dead-end filtration, there is no liquid waste stream; all feed water passes through the membrane. Over time, particles build up in the membrane structure or on the surface, limiting water passage. As the filter cake accumulates, the AP builds until the maximum is reached, and then the membrane must be replaced or cleaned. In cross flow operation, the feed stream flows parallel to the membrane surface, limiting filter cake thickness and density. A part of the stream permeates through the membrane, leaving a zone of high particle concentration at the surface. Particles and/or solutes are drawn back into the bulk feed stream by the flow of lower concentration water past the surface.

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Transverse flow operation is used with tubular membranes configured such that the feed stream flows past them at right angles. The product stream permeates to the interior of the tubes. The higher turbulence across the membrane in this configuration enhances filter cake disruption and thereby maintains a higher productivity rate than cross flow or dead-end filtration operated under equivalent conditions.

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Membrane material 2. as defined above. in different classes of filtration. in terms of pore size. Tubular and ceramic. pressure or vacuum). These membrane systems are available in different physical configuration that include spiral wound (consisting of flat sheet membrane material wrapped around a central collection tube). Each of these technologies utilizes a membrane barrier that allows the passage of water but removes contaminants. Apart from the configuration. Membranes for microfiltration. The 0. Operational driving forces (i. The size mentioned above is for the pore size of the membrane media and not of any cake that gets accumulated on the medium.e. microfiltration fills in the gap between ultrafiltration and granular media filtration. 4 . Thus. there are other factors.Chapter 2 Four Types of Membrane Filters Introduction Membrane processes used today for water and wastewater include both pressuredriven processes and electrically driven processes. Hydraulic mode of operation 3. Pressure driven processes includes microfiltration.1 µm to slightly above 1µm size.45-micron membranes used for silt density index measurements are microfiltration membranes. They are 1. Electrically driven processes include electrodylasis reversal and electrodeionization. have been available and in use for decades. hollow fiber (consisting of hollow fiber material). ultrafiltration. nanofiltration and reverse osmosis. which may vary. Microfiltration Microfiltration is basically filtration through a coherent medium with a nominal pore size range from slightly below 0.

Salts which have monovalent anions have rejection of 20 to 80 % (for example Calcium Chloride and Sodium Chloride) whereas salts which have divalent anion have rejection rate of almost 98 %(example Magnesium sulphate). pore sizes generally range from 0. The method of separation is same as in MF that is by sieving. Even after ion exchange. In terms of a pore size. Ion exchange resins. Organic molecules with molecular weights greater than 200-to 400 are rejected also dissolved solids are rejected in the range of 20 to 98 %. UF retains much smaller particles than MF like macromolecules like colloidal silica protein etc but allows dissolved solids to pass through.01 – 0. a point at which some discrete macromolecules can be retained by the membrane material. and colloids from feed streams in water treatment systems.1-Micron to 1 micron.05 µm (nominally 0. bacteria.005 µm. In Microfiltration suspended particles and large colloidal particles are rejected while macromolecules and dissolved solids pass through the MF membranes. ultrafilters. Ultrafiltration Ultra filtration is midway between MF and NF. Micro filtration removes particles in the range of approximately 0. feed water to RO membranes must be filtered with a microfilter to remove fine resin particles. 5 .Microfiltration is used to remove particles.01µm) or less. Nanofiltration Nanofiltration refers to specialty membrane process which rejects particles in the approximate size range of 1 nanometer (10 Angstrom) and hence the term Nanofiltration. the lower cutoff for a UF membrane is approximately 0. For UF. NF operates in the realm between UF and reverse Osmosis. decreasing to an extent at which the concept of a discernable “pore” becomes inappropriate. and RO membranes are all susceptible to fouling by microorganisms and colloids in the feed. UF membranes are more commonly classified based on molecular cut off (MWCO) because of their ability to retain large organic macromolecule.

Generally and in this discussion TDS removal is required the membranes are considered to be RO membrane and when softening is required the membranes are considered to be NF membrane. The characterization is done basically on the basis of rejection characteristics.Water molecules pass freely through the membrane. Comparing NF and RO membranes Most RO and NF membranes available today are very similar. Rejection of Dissolved salts is typically 95 to 99 %. The RO membrane acts as barrier to all dissolved salts and inorganic molecule as well as well organic molecules with molecular weight greater than 100. 6 .Reverse Osmosis Reverse Osmosis is the finest level of filtration available. RO membranes are utilized if the TDS is above 1500 and if the percentage of TDS is made of monovalent ions then NF is a better solution.

Though not a rule but it is common to see that most MF/UF employ hollow fiber module and NF/RO use spiral wound membrane. The membrane media is generally manufactured as flat sheets or as hollow fibers and then configured into membrane modules. Cross filtration also allows cleaning operation to be done from bot feed and filtrate side of the membrane. Polyamide and TFC membranes are more sensitive to chlorine than CA Membrane. MF/UF membranes are 7 . It is more common to find wider type of materials being used for manufacturing MF/UF membranes then NF/RO membranes. polyamide and poly sulphonate (TFC). All membrane filtration technologies utilize a membrane barrier that allows passage of water but removes contaminants. PA and TFC membranes work on a broader pH range. Mechanical strength is also important because it allows a higher TMP (Trans membranes Pressure) which means more operational flexibility. CA membranes are more pH sensitive and work in a very narrow pH range. Most common materials are cellulose acetate. For example any strong oxidant like chlorine can destroy the membrane and hence on such waters proper pretreatment should be provided. These membranes may is either made of some organic material or may be some material like zircon or ceramic. Membrane materials & Properties Membrane materials for filtering aqueous solutions are either made of organic polymer or may be of some inorganic substance like zircon/ceramic. Modules and Systems Introduction There are variety of membrane materials and modules and associated system that are utilized by various classes of membrane filtration.Chapter 3 Membrane Materials. There can be significant impact on design and operation of filtration system because of membrane material. Normally the membrane material is made from synthetic polymer.

The pressure 8 . The most common are depth filters. there are advantages and disadvantages inherent in each of them. Membranes can be made from many different materials and can be formed into a wide variety of configurations. It is also used in electrodialysis (an electrical driven ion exchange membrane process). pleated. Tubular and hollow fiber membranes are made from a variety of materials as mentioned above They are designed for cross-flow filtration. 1. The choice of these materials will depend upon the intended use because each of them has different properties. which is used in the whole range of filtration processes. thick walled cylinders made from spun polymer strands and so formed that the outside has more open structure for trapping the coarser particle from water as it passes from outside in. and hollow fiber. The spiral wound configuration. It finds wider application in food industries. polyvinyl fluoride (PVDF). They are basically used in microfiltration for trapping coarser particles.manufactured from Cellulose acetate (CA). They are dense. but is much more difficult to clean. polysulfone (PS) and other polymers like polyethersulfone (PES). One must select the best for a particular situation. spiral wound. The plate and frame configuration is less widely used in water treatment. larger particles are trapped first. It is also used in high solids content micro. Membrane Modules Membranes are generally manufactured as flat sheet or as hollow fiber and then configured into one of several different types of membrane modules. tubular. NF /RO are generally manufactured from cellulose acetate or polyamide membrane. 3. provides a greater surface area per module than pleated or tubular configurations in the same processes. 4.and ultra-filtration because the units can be taken apart and cleaned very thoroughly. polypropylene (PP). No configuration is better under all circumstances. 2. plate and frame. Depth filters are dense. Depth filters are used in MF to trap coarser particles. They are formed such that the outside has a more open structure than the inside so that as water passes from the outside in. thick walled cylinders made from spun polymer strands. Polyacrylonitrile (PAN).

vessels are similar for tubular and hollow fiber membranes as those used for cross flow pleated cartridges but they operate in reverse direction With tubular and hollow fiber membranes. Concentrate – the continuous waste stream (typically consisting of concentrated dissolved solids) from a membrane process. The port on the side of the module is the permeate port and the reject comes out the end.Starting solution to processed (Treated) 9 .Flow of solution parallel or tangential to membrane surface. also synonymous with “direct filtration” Deposition Mode – a hydraulic configuration of membrane filtration systems in which contaminants removed from the feed water accumulate at the membrane surface (and in microfiltration (MF)/ultrafiltration (UF) systems are subsequently removed via backwashing) Feed: . It helps in counteracting concentration polarization. They are easy to clean but have a low surface area to volume ratio. and sometimes NF membranes. Tubular configurations can be used for MF. usually in association with nanofiltration (NF) and reverse osmosis (RO) processes. General Concept and few Definition Certain concepts and definition are common for all membrane filtration system and understanding these common definitions will prove helpful in system designing and operation and maintenance of the system Cross flow: . feed water flows from inside the membrane tube or fiber and is filtered to the outside. Tubular configurations are used for high flow /high solids content feed streams. In some cases also used to describe a continuous bleed stream of concentrated suspended solids wasted from microfiltration (MF) and ultrafiltration (UF) systems operated in a crossflow (or feed-and-bleed) hydraulic configuration Dead End Filtration – term commonly used to describe the deposition mode hydraulic configuration of membrane filtration systems. UF.

commonly called the backpressure. General flow balance for all Membrane filtration: .A general flow balance can be written which is applicable to all membrane filtration. UF and MCF require a driving forces to transport water molecules across the membrane barrier. generally expressed in percent The recovery as defined in most cases does not account for the use of filtrate for routine maintenance purpose such as chemical cleaning and backwashing. Feed-and-Bleed Mode – a term used to describe a variation of the suspension mode hydraulic configuration of membrane filtration systems in which a portion of the crossflow stream is wasted (i.The recovery of membrane unit is defined as the amount of feed flow that is converted to filtrate flow. Qf = Qc+Qp Transmembrane Process: . TMP = Pf -Pp 10 . This is the pressure gradient across the membrane. TMP is defined by the pressure on the feed side of the membrane minus the filtrate pressure.Flux: -Membrane filtration system throughput is typically characterized by the system flux. or the TMP. which is defined as the filtrate flow per unit of membrane filtration area.e. bled) rather than recirculated Hydrophilic – the water attracting property of membrane material Hydrophobic – the water repelling property of membrane material Unit membrane area Membrane units can be 1 ft by 1 ft or 1 meter by 1 meter and the flow can be in gallon per day or M3/day Recovery: .. as shown in drawing.Membrane filtration like MF.

It means accumulation of particulates in the membrane passages that restrict flow. Retenate/concentrate: .Residual solution containing the concentrated contaminants 11 . Permeate. Fouling . Also called filtrate or product water.Interaction between substances in the feed and the membrane that reduces flux.Where Pf = Feed Pressure and Pp = Filtrate pressure.Solution that permeates (passes through the membrane. Plugging .

which can be stacked in frames or rolled into a spiral configuration. Generally in most cases a minimum of approximately one kg /cm2 (15 psi) at least is required. A phenomenon of ultrafiltration is known as concentration polarization. The cross flow motion of the water within an ultrafiltration system allows high filtration rates to be maintained continuously.01 microns.0025 to 0. while stopping bigger molecules and particles.Chapter 4 Ultrafiltration Introduction Ultrafiltration is a pressure-driven process. The pores at the membrane surface are so small that they will allow only water and small dissolved chemical to pass through. They all function by a similar mechanism. This is a buildup of chemical contaminants at the membrane surface as the water filters 12 . while others are flat sheets. the water will flow through the membrane only b applying pressure. Various membrane configurations are available. Some are fibers or tubes with the active membrane being found on the inside. whereas the constant build up of solids along the filter surface can cause blockage in an ordinary perpendicular filtration system. water flows parallel to the membrane surface. The semi permeable membrane in an ultrafiltration system has pore sizes in the range of 0. Pressure is applied to one side of the membrane so that water and low molecular weight compounds in the waste stream flow through the pores as permeate. as compared to the perpendicular flow of ordinary filtration. while the larger molecules and suspended solids flow across the membrane and become part of the concentrate. which uses semi-permeable synthetic membranes to separate certain chemicals and materials from water. How it works Membrane separation technology is based upon molecular size. Due to very small pore size. In an ultrafiltration system.

hollow fiber and spiral wound. These systems can be either “outside in” or “inside –out”. The spiral membrane is constructed by rolling a flat membrane that is netted together with specially designed spacer material. Hollow fiber MF/UF is the most common configurations used today due to its ability to handle tough waters at reasonable cost. or permeate Configuration of Ultrafiltration Membrane There are three primary configurations of ultrafiltration membranes: tubular. The filtrate is then collected from outside the fiber. therefore it is the membrane of choice when severe fouling is expected. Hollow fiber UF membrane consists of several thousand hollow fibers. The treated water is collected from the inside of the membrane leaving the impurities behind.0µm in diameter.through to the other side. This type of membrane cannot be mechanically cleaned. In the outside in system the feedwater enters from the outside of the hollow fibers and is pushed through the membranes. The tubular membrane is generally used in small flow. bundled into a membrane element. 13 . typically 0. and it is usually used for high volume applications. high solids loading applications. the expected solids loading govern the size of cylinder necessary for a specific application. The condition is not permanent and can be removed by flushing the membrane with either more dilute feed or with clean water. The third configuration of ultrafiltration membranes is the spiral-wound. and is usually reserved for applications where TSS loading is low or has been reduced by prefiltration. The hollow fiber design consists of a membrane wound into a hollow cylinder. The construction of this membrane allows easy cleaning.5 –1. In inside out the water enters the bore of the fiber and is filtered radially through the fiber wall. Cylinder diameters vary.

With the backwash pump. At the end of the filtration cycle. This can be carried out either as conventional backwashing (permeate only) or chemical backwashing (permeate and backwashing chemical). part of the retained substance flow is bled off from the loop. exactly the same quantity of raw water is fed through a preliminary filter into the closed loop. backwashing takes place. To prevent the concentration of retained water constituents becoming too high during the filtration process. With the aid of the cross-flow pump and reject pressure valve. the membrane cross-flow and feed pressure gradient for the UF module is adjusted. as of permeate and bleed leaving the plant. permeate is forced through the UF module in the reverse filtration direction at twice to three times the transmembrane pressure 14 .Cross-Flow UF During the filtration cycle. The permeate is either passed into the permeate tank or leaves the system as product.

Service mode . Service mode . A small permeate bleed fills the backflush/CIP tank ready for backflush sequence.Recirculation Flux recovery – Backflush In single pass system during service run the recovery is hundred percent with all the feed passing through the membrane as permeate. Recirculation In this case the concentrate is returned to feed water pump inlet or to the feed tank. Flushing can be achieved either by backflushing or by forward flushing.Feed and bleed Flux recovery . Service mode -100 % recovery Flux recovery – Backflush 2. Operation of Ultrafilters Membrane Unit Ultrafiltration differs from conventional filtration plants in that filtered product is continuously removed from the membrane surface. Backflush frequency depends on water quality Feed & Bleed Operation In feed and bleed type some amount of concentrate is continually passed to drain.(TMP) and so removes the water constituents retained by the membrane. The concentrate thus produced is discharged as wastewater from the filtration unit. Fouling material is removed from the surface by two different processes Flushing This is usually an automatic process by which certain amount of flux recovery is achieved either by backflushing or forward flushing Chemical Cleaning While automatic backflushing is effective in maintaining the plant capacity in short term. Service mode .Backflush 3. permeate is pumped in reverse direction through the membrane to the drain.Fast forward flush 4.Feed and bleed Flux recovery . a periodic chemical cleaning is usually required to prevent gradual degradation in membrane flux Chemical cleaning in Place (CIP) sequence take some 2 to 4 hours when the plant can not be used Four operating modes are possible 1. During the backflush sequence. This is only done during chemical cleaning. 15 .

Automatic flush arrest the decline in membrane performance experienced on colloidal feed waters. permeate. recycle and backwash flows. Control Valves 16 . Retention monitoring requirements depend on the source water and treatment objectives. feed. General water quality. whether the product water is within specifications or not. Monitoring Parameters in UF There are three purposes for instrumentation in UF treatment processes. Eventually the membrane performance levels of and the plant operate in equilibrium. Chemical Cleaning frequency can be once a week to once per three months depending on water quality. pH. Retention performance 3. These include 1. 2. Equipment Maintenance Ultrafiltration plants have number of components that should be routinely checked for correct operation and serviced as necessary. General water quality monitoring for UF includes conductivity. Hydraulic performance.Maintaining Capacity Regular flushing and chemical cleaning are essential for maintenance of capacity. and chlorine residual. Operators should be able to tell. During further operation there will overall decline in performance and this will indicate that chemical cleaning is required. These are to monitor: 1. Surface water treated for drinking purposes should be monitored for turbidity and particle count of the feed and permeate. Hydraulic monitoring requires measurement of the feed and permeate pressure. Pressure regulators 2. with a glance at the monitoring instrumentation. New membrane may have very high flux initially but with colloidal feed water fluxes reduces rapidly. and temperature of the feed stream.

Membranes.3. 17 . General Maintenance like leaks. Pumps 4. 6. motor fuses blown out etc. Pressure Switches 5.

Chapter 5 Reverse Osmosis Osmosis Osmosis is a process. This is called Reverse osmosis. 18 . The ability of membrane to reject mineral is called mineral rejection. (RO) Mineral Rejection The purpose of demineralization is to separate minerals from water. This process continues until an equilibrium is reached. Its magnitude is proportional to the amount of dissolved salts in the solutions and to the temperature of the solutions. the natural tendency of the water to flow from the dilute solution to the concentrated solution is overcome. which can be defined as a passage of liquid from weak solution to a more concentrated solution across a semipermeable membrane. (depicted in Figure 1) in which the difference in fluid head between the concentrated and the dilute solutions is equal to the osmotic pressure difference of the two solutions. The semipermeable membrane allows the passage of liquid (solvent) but does not allow solids (solutes) to pass through Principle of Operation In natural osmosis water in a dilute solution passes through a semipermeable membrane and into the more concentrated solution in an attempt to equalize the salt concentrations on both sides of the membrane. Reverse Osmosis If the osmotic pressure is overcome by applying an external force to the concentrated solution (depicted in Figure 2). while the salts or dissolved solids are held back. Thus. pure water as well as any dissolved gases it may contain are forced out of the concentrated solution through the semipermeable membrane.

called permeate and a high saline brine. Within the module. The permeate of each element will be collected in the common permeate tube installed in the center of each spiral wound element and flows to a permeate collecting pipe outside of the pressure vessel. A flow regulating valve. controls the percentage of feedwater that is going to the concentrate stream and the permeate which will be obtained from the feed. In the case of a spiral wound module consisting of a pressure vessel and several spiral wound elements. pressurized saline feed water is continuously pumped to the module system. Reverse Osmosis Process The simplified reverse osmosis process is shown in Figure.Recovery Recovery is defined as the percentage of feed flow that is recovered as product water. With a high-pressure pump. pressurized water flows into the vessel and through the channels between the spiral windings of the element. called concentrate or reject. 19 . The feedwater becomes more and more concentrated and will enter the next element. Up to seven elements are connected together within a pressure vessel. the feed water will be split into a low saline product. consisting of a pressure vessel (housing) and a membrane element. called concentrate valve. and at last exits from the last element to the concentrate valve where the applied pressure will be released.

performance varies with pressure. Recovery 4. Pressure. Temperature 3. cm /sec A= water permeability constant in gm/sq.Chapter 6 Factors Influencing Reverse Osmosis Performance Introduction We all know that the performance of any membrane depends on the composition of feed water but given a standard feed water. dechlorination either by chemical or by granular activated carbon filter is a must. The above factors greatly influence the permeate flux and salt rejection which are the key performance parameters of a reverse osmosis process. Assuming that chlorine is used an oxidant. Oxidation potential off feed water can effect the material of the membrane and hence the kind of pretreatment required will also depend upon the oxidant potential of feed water. They are mainly influenced by variable parameters. As feed water is forced at greater velocity at higher pressure more foulants in the feed stream interact at the membrane surface. Pressure 2. temperature and recovery are parameters that are factors of feed water composition. Feed water salt concentration Pressure Refer to the equation for water flux Fw = A (∆p-∆π) Where Fw = water flux in gram / sq. level of water recovery. water temperature. 20 . and the oxidation potential of the feed water. Increasing the feed pressure reduces the permeate TDS and increases the permeate flux. cm –sec atm5 ∆p = pressure differential applied across the membrane atm ∆π = Osmotic differential applied across the membrane atm The equation above shows that the water flux is directly proportional to the applied pressure. which are as follows: 1.

This can lead to precipitation of slightly soluble salts. Effect of pH The pH of the feed water can affect the membrane structure and the scale formation potential of the concentrate stream. larger TMPs (by application of increased pressure or vacuum) are required to maintain constant flux. Salts have to become more concentrated for diffusion to take place at higher osmotic pressure. Temperature also impacts energy consumption in RO feed pumps. Ions diffuse away when the surface pressure exceeds the main stream osmotic pressure. hydrolysis occurs. CA membranes are pH sensitive and operate under a very narrow pH range of 4-6. The first can happen because of exceeding product quality criteria with excessive recovery. Mathematically Recovery =(Product flow /Feed Flow) *100 Two parameters. the permeate flux and the salt passage will increase. Hydrolysis results in a lessening of mineral 21 . which remain on the membrane surface. If exposed to a pH outside this range. since temperature influences flux and flux as an impact on NDP Recovery The recovery is defined as the percentage of feed flow that is recovered as the product water. which operate at a pH range of 5. If the temperature increases and all other parameters are kept constant.5 to 6. The second is due to concentration polarization.Increasing the pressure could also lead to scaling because the salts. This is because the viscosity of water increases with decreasing temperature. Concentration polarization means concentration of brine to a degree where minerals get precipitated on membrane surface. Due to concentration polarization there is a tendency for sparingly soluble salts to precipitate and also for deposition of particulate matter. increase the local osmotic pressure. Infact there are some CA membranes. which determine Recovery is product water (Permeate) quality and the solubility limits of minerals in the brine. Temperature Water passes through the membrane with lower applied pressure at higher temperature than is required at lower temperatures.

to remove iron and manganese. is more soluble at low temperatures and at a pH less than 8. Most membranes used in RO application are sensitive to oxidant. to improve taste and odor. This limits the use of CA membrane.0. changes in temperature or pH can cause one or the other to precipitate. 22 .7. some as large as 2 to 11. CA membranes are also biodegradable and it is advisable to have feed water chlorine held between 0. Care must be taken to find the best condition to prevent scaling. Systems that use chlorine with thin film composite membranes require dechlorination just ahead of the RO unit. Calcium carbonate. However.rejection capability.2 ppm to 0. CA membranes are more tolerant to chlorine compared to other membranes. Chlorine is the most widely used oxidant but ozone and UV are also being used. Lowering the pH. and at higher temperatures. These oxidants can affect membrane. yet some method of biological treatment is still needed. The pH of the feed water may need adjustment to control scaling of the concentrate conveyance system. Irrespective of the type of membrane used some method of biological treatment is still needed. For example. temperature or adding anti-scalants can relieve a carbonate-scaling problem. A silica-scaling problem could be controlled by either raising the pH or the temperature of the feed water. Chlorine is added to water supplies to control biological growth. on the other hand.5 ppm (Reverse Osmosis by Zahid Amjad). Non-cellulosic thin film composite membranes are not tolerant to oxidation. CA membranes are also temperature sensitive and hence at higher temperature chlorine and bacteria becomes more aggressive. Oxidants Oxidants like chlorine and ozone are added to water to control microbiological growth and to improve taste and odor. Thin film composite membranes generally have a much broader operational pH range. silica solubility increases dramatically above pH 7. and to speed the decomposition of vegetable and animal matter. if the concentrate is saturated in both silica and carbonate.

Advantage of CA membrane is that they are chlorine tolerant and can be used with feed water having residual chlorine of less than 0. Temperature sensitive 3. Though these membranes achieved acceptable results with brackish water but not with seawater due to compressibility of membrane at high pressure. Despite this chemical stability. If chlorination is required to reduce the amount of biological 23 . Polyamide membrane or PA membrane 3.Chapter 7 Membrane Types and configuration Types of Membrane Increased use of Reverse Osmosis process and other membrane process has led to development of variety of membranes. One problem this material has is slow chemical decomposition through a process called hydrolysis. The use of acids to prevent scaling increases the rate of this form of membrane decay. Performance limitation Polyamide Membrane (PA) Polyamide membranes are made of aromatic polyamides. these membranes cannot tolerate any residual oxidant.5 mg/liter. The feed water to PA membrane should be free from chlorine as they are subject to attack by Chlorine. Membranes most widely used in water treatment are: 1. Thin film composite membrane or TFC membrane Cellulose Acetate Membrane (CA) CA membranes are constructed of cellulose acetate or cellulose triacetate or blend. Cellulose Acetate or CA membrane 2. Works under a narrow pH range. PA membranes works in a broader pH range and hence it is more resistant to hydrolysis and has better salt rejection and organic rejection and they are non biodegradable. 2. Its use is also limited for the following reason: 1. As mentioned earlier CA membrane are also biodegradable and hence bacterial protection must be provided.

Easier maintenance 3. Tubular frame 4. These are the most commonly used in Industrial application. Wider pH range 3. Greater design freedom 4.suspended solids. 24 . More resistant to chlorine than PA 4. Advantages of TFC membrane are: 1. Can withstand higher level of pre-treatment upsets. Less prone to fouling 5. Spiral wound 2. The advantages of this configuration are: 1. High silica rejection The disadvantage they are very intolerant towards chlorine. porous layer. TFC membranes consist of three layers and are based on polyamide membrane and consist of poly sulfone membrane as a support for very thin polyamide layer. Thin film Composite Membrane The above two membranes are of asymmetric structure are dense. Configuration of membrane Major configurations of membranes are: 1. Simpler plumbing system 2. They are both composed of the same polymer. Hollow fiber 3. High flux rate 2. Plate & Frame Spiral Wound In spiral wound configuration are assembled from flat sheet polymer Membrane and spacers are wound around the permeate collection tube to produce flow channels for permeate and feed water. thin layer (salt rejecting layer) supported by a thick. then dechlorination must be complete if polyaromatic amide membranes are used.

A portion of feed water permeates through the membrane envelope in a spiral path and enters the central tube via the perforation leaving behind any dissolved and particulate contaminants that are rejected by the semi-permeable membrane. The "spiralwound" element is wound around a central permeate collection tube and separated by thin spacer materials. Spacer thickness can be adjusted depending on the application. One of the advantages of spiral wound membrane is that the design yields a high membrane packing density. In case of composite membrane the two layers are completely different polymers. becoming increasingly concentrated in rejected contaminants and is called the reject and is removed from the reject port. This is the central permeate tube. There are two flows one which is the filtered water which permeates and collected from the permeate port. which does not permeate through the membrane layer. with the porous substrate often being polysulphone. The leaves are rolled spirally around the product tube. Specific packing density depends on the size of spacer material used. The other. A single spiral-wound module 8 inches in diameter may contain up to approximately 20 leaves. In the spiral wound design a flat membrane envelope is formed closed on the three sides with a supporting grid inside. In order to operate at acceptable recoveries. In CA membrane the two different layers are of the same polymer and is referred to as asymmetric. Recovery is a function of the feed-brine path length. This is known as the permeate or product water.Spiral wound elements are constructed from flat sheet membranes. The open side is sealed to the tube Each leave consists of two membrane sheets placed back to back and seperated by a fabric spacer called permeate carrier. spiral systems are usually staged with three to seven) 25 . Each end of the unit is finished with a plastic molding called an “Anti-telescopic Device” Feedwater flows axially through the spiral over the membrane surface. each separated by a layer of plastic mesh called a spacer that serves as the feed water channel. The membrane material may be either made of cellulose acetate (CA) or of composite membrane (TFC). continues to flow across the membrane surface. which is roughly a path parallel to the central tube.

and so on for each element within the pressure tube. Permeate from each element enters the permeate collector tube and exits the tube as a common permeate stream. The brine stream from the first element becomes the feed to the following element. The brine stream from the last element exits the pressure tube to waste or to feed another tube.membrane elements connected in series in a pressure tube (or housing). Internal construction of a spiral-wound membrane 26 .

Concentrated reject is collected at the opposite end of the vessel. A series of flat sheet membranes seperated by alternating filtrate spacers and feed /concentrate spacers. Plate & Frame type The fourth and the least used configuration in water treatment are the plate and frame type. At times it may also differ depending on the manufacture. The ions get rejected through these hollow fibers when water permeates the wall and is discharged as product water. Diameter of tube may vary depending on the application. Feed water is fed to the center of vessel through a porous pipe. which becomes an advantage in many applications. which creates a tremendous membrane area in a small volume. Tubular Membrane Tubular membranes are inserted into or coated onto the inside surface of a porous tube and are designed to withstand the operating pressure.Hollow Fine Fiber Hollow fiber contains a bundle of extremely small diameter membrane tubes. One of the biggest advantages of this is that the device can be used with many different membrane types and provides opportunity for repairing the membrane. This configuration provides very low 27 . Feed water enters the end of the tube permeates through the membrane and is collected and discharged through a concentrator concentrated reject water leaves through the end of porous tube.

In one of the manual called “Desalting process” by bureau of reclamation typical recoveries given are Maximum Maximum recovery per stage recovery per stage (for standard (for low) pressure pressure) 4 40 35 5 50 45 6 55 50 7 60 60 8 75 N/A A diagram of typical of typical pressure vessel containing spiral wound modules is shown. The incoming water after proper pretreatment is pumped into the membrane system. The elements are arranged in series in a pressure vessel such that the concentrate from each preceding element represents the feed water for next. or fiber reinforced plastic. which is made of stainless steel. For a single RO/NF element the recovery is generally considered to be less than 15 % and recovery for six elements is generally taken to be 15 %. No of elements per vessel 28 . A brine seal around the outside of the feed end of each element separates the feedwater from the concentrate and prevents feed water from bypassing the membrane element. A standard pressure vessel can hold six to seven elements but to accommodate other number of elements they are custom manufactured.surface area to volume ratio and hence considered in sufficient and is therefore seldom used in water treatment RO Plant Layout Most RO systems use Spiral wound membrane. The spiral wound membranes are loaded into pressure vessel.

forming a membrane envelope to promote the flow of permeate toward the center tube for discharge at the ends of the vessel. which helps in preventing pressure build up. It is more common to find membrane element with one end plug. permeate carrier and spacer material is wound around this. The other is sealed with dead end plug (DEP). Permeate carrier This is a sheet of material inserted between the backsides of the membranes. The Interconnector (IC) The IC connects the center tubes of neighboring elements and directs the flow to one or both ends of pressure vessel. It also facilitates in flow of feedwater from one element to next. The CT provides structural strength to the element. Anti telescopic device (ATD) Anti telescopic device are attached to the end of element. The membrane “leaves’. ATDs fills space between elements in a pressure vessel. This can be either bonded or loosely attached top the CT to form an integral part of interconnector. Product end adapter (EA) The product end adapter is (EA) is used at both ends if the permeate volume is high. 29 .Membrane Element Construction The membrane element is constructed of parts mentioned below The Center Tube (CT) The center tube is also called permeate collection tube. The IC is connected to CT by O rings. Otherwise it is provided at only one end.

We know that the system recovery is generally based on feed water quality but a rough estimation gives for a single stage –55 % recovery. Product Staging Product staging is true series operation of two or more reverse osmosis membrane systems. For example let us consider a two-stage system containing 24 vessels and 144 elements in first stage and 12 vessels and elements in the second stage. In permeate staging configuration the permeate from a stage becomes the feed water for the subsequent stage. 30 . It is used more commonly in industries where ultrapure water is required. This is done so that most of the raw feed water will eventually be recovered as product water. Though this configuration is mostly used in Industries it is and can also be used in drinking water when the salinity is high. taking suction from storage tank of the first stage reverse osmosis system. Product staging also called permeate staging is used to treat highly saline waters. Array can also be defined in relative term. Array is a combination of two or more stages in series and generally identified as a ratio of pressure vessels in sequential stages. The system recovery is based on the number of stages. In most cases the second stage always requires its own pressurizing pump. Reject staging is used more in drinking water treatment and in low salinity water. One should not confuse Array with stages.Feed spacer This is the material inserted between neighboring membrane surfaces to create the best possible flow conditions over the membrane. A group of pressure vessels operating in parallel collectively represents a single stage of treatment in a NF/RO system. There are two types of staging generally employed in Reverse osmosis system-Reject or concentrate staging and Product staging. The ratio of number of vessels per stage defines the array. for two stage –75 % and for three stage – maximum of 90 %. Reverse osmosis membrane staging configurations. We can call it as 24: 12 array or 2:1 array in relative term.

Reject staging. It is occasionally possible to further concentrate the brine on a third reject stage 31 . the brine can be piped directly into another membrane module for further water recovery. The manufacturer's recommended maximum feed water flow rate and minimum recommended brine reject flow can be used to calculate a maximum recommended single stage recovery fraction by use of the following equation: F – B/ F =R Where: F = Maximum recommended feed flow per module B = Minimum recommended brine reject flow per module R = Maximum recommended recovery rate This maximum single stage water recovery is one means of evaluating a membrane module being considered for Ro desalination of low salinity. Reject staging is used when the low salinity of the raw water permits a high water-recovery ratio. This is accomplished by combining the brine flow from a number of first stage modules onto a fewer number of secondary membrane modules. When the reject stream is still diluted enough for further concentration after the maximum recommended recovery ratio is reached. Most membrane module manufacturers have a minimum allowable brine reject flow for any given membrane of their manufacture.

P ro d u c t s ta g in g R e je c t s ta g in g 32 .

Sample valve 5. Energy recovery device 10. The schematic is shown below. Concentrate control valve 4. 1. The unit includes the following components. Piping 3. Permeate rinse valve 8.Chapter 8 Components of Reverse osmosis unit Reverse osmosis unit comprises of following components. Permeate draw back tank 9. Membrane Pressurization pump The pressure required for RO unit can range from 100 psi to about 1200 psi The feed pump used for pressurizing feed water is called the pressurizing pump and is 33 . Flush connection 6. Pressurization pump 2. Cleaning connection 7.

When using two stages. For seawater desalination it is the preferred pump. For seawater desalination high-grade stainless steel is used for high-pressure lines.either a centrifugal pump or a positive displacement pump. RO Array The array structure is determined during the design process by the hydraulics of the system. The largest number of stages normally used is a three-stage unit. With later design of spiral wound membrane seven 40-inch long elements have been placed in single unit. 50% of the feed is recovered in the first stage. Brackish water use 304 or 316 SS and low pressure plant (House old RO) use PVC piping. The elements are connected in series and held in Pressure vessel. A seventh element housing is useful if it is necessary to increase the system recovery marginally. Piping Choice of piping material is generally based on the salinity of water. Generally six elements are housed in one vessel. For a 75% recovery. The output of positive displacement pump is not throttled. The remaining 25% is recovered by the second stage. The most common arrangement has six membranes in each pressure vessel. This is often done for new system or after membrane cleaning. If pressure vessels with fewer than six elements are used the recovery per stage is decreased Valves Various valves are used in RO. The output of centrifugal pump may be throttled by use of throttling valve. two stages are required. This arrangement recovers as permeate 50% of the water fed to it. Positive displacement pumps are preferred for higher pressure. The pump discharge line should contain a pressure relief mechanism. The major valves are 34 . as it yields a 50% recovery on the concentrate from the first stage. Pressure vessel housing Spiral wound membranes are housed in pressure tube generally called as pressure vessel housing. Centrifugal pumps are used for lower pressure.

isolation valves for each bank would allow for one bank to soak while the upstream or downstream bank is cleaned.1. in order to obtain a reliable flow and quality of product. Product outlet 4. Permeate Rinse Provision for sending the permeate from one bank or unit proves useful when troubleshooting. Cleaning connection 8. permeate and concentrate line. These include the following items. 1st stage inlet 3. Cleaning connection All units should have cleaning connections for each bank of permeators or pressure vessels connected in parallel. membrane module or permeator and the other components mentioned above. 35 . Some process require that permeate achieve quality by rinsing after shutdown period Irrespective of the type of membrane employed. some of which are optional depending on the feedwater quality. Permeate rinse 9. It is so located that sampling is possible during all mode of operation like servicing. other components are required. Reject outlet 5. System flush inlet & outlet 6. Stage isolators 7. Pump inlet 2. Sample Valve Sample valve is located on feed. However. Sample valves Concentrate control valve A regulating valve located in the concentrate line (reject) provides a means of applying backpressure to membranes. Positioning this valve in conjunction with pump discharge valve will set the permeate and concentrate flow rate. flushing or cleaning. the basic building block from which an RO Plant is constructed consists of a high-pressure pump and a.

However.. If it is not present. such as polyelectrolytes or filter aids. and sodium hexameta phosphate injection.22" situation. Typical options for their control include softening. if free chlorine is present in concentrations greater than 1 ppm. both compared to operation with feedwater temperature Of 25 C 36 . there is a 15% increase in product flow at 30 C and a 15% decrease in product flow at 20 C. the membrane will deteriorate. if present in its oxidized trivalent state. in cases where there are significant quantities of colloidal solids or solids less than S microns in diameter (i. a softener..Feedwater Iron Control Iron. respectively. Feedwater Chlorine Control The presence of free chlorine or its absence in the feedwater is somewhat of a "Catch. It should be pointed out here that if the acid injection option is chosen. However.e. Thus. prefiltration to 5 microns is adequate. bacteria will most likely be present and the concentrated nutrients on the brine side of the RO membrane will ensure their continued growth and subsequent fouling of the membrane. These rates are typically adjusted such that a recovery ratio (i. SxlO-4 cm). thus reducing productivity. must be used. acid injection. whereas sodium hypochlorite may be injected to add chlorine. Typical approaches for its removal include such options as a manganese greensand iron filter. the product water will have a low pH due to the inherent production of carbon dioxide and 1ts complete passage through the RO membrane. additional means of suspended solids removal. The concentration of solids on the brine side of the membrane and thus the scaling tendency may be controlled to some extent by the control of the relative brine concentrate and product flow rates.. even if their concentrations are low enough to be soluble in the feedwater. Feedwater Temperature Control Feedwater temperature should not exceed 30 C or be lower than 0 C in order to preserve the RO membrane. may be precipitated on the RO membrane due to the high concentration of solids on the brine side of the membrane. Feed water suspended solid control Adequate prefiltration must be provided to ensure continuous high -productivity.e. feedwater temperatures higher or lower than 25 C will give. However. Generally. For example. Feedwater Scaling Tendency Control Scale in the form of calcium carbonate or calcium sulfate. and sodium hexameta phosphate injection. greater or less product. can build up on the RO membrane. ratio of product flow rate to feed flow rate) of 50-75% is maintained. carbon filtration or sodilJ1l sulfite injection may be used to remove chlorine.

Therefore. And in order to prevent an unexpected increase in product pressure if the membrane should rupture. 2. a relief valve is required on the product line. and recorder for the product line.High Pressure Pump Protection Due to the high discharge pressure. it must be protected against loss of suction. and in the product line 6. 4. the following additional instrumentation is preferred: 1. 3. RO membrane Cleaning System Inspite of the precautions taken to prevent fouling of the RO membrane. Pressure Control In order to maintain the required pressure to make the RO unit work (usually in the order of 400 psi). Flow meters with adjusting valves in the brine and product lines to control their relative flow rates. Grab sample points throughout the pretreatment system. a chemical injection system or cleaning connections should be provided for cleaning of the brine side of the membrane. Therefore. periodic cleaning is required. Conductivity probe pH probe. in the brine concentrate line. the brine concentrate and the product lines. Additional Instrumentation In order to properly monitor and control the routine operation of an RO Plant. a pressure control valve is required on the brine concentrate line. monitors. 37 . the discharge of the high pressure pump. thus the design recovery ratio. Level control in the product storage tank to trip the high-pressure pump on high level. Temperature indicator for the high pressure pump inlet. Pressure indicators for the inlet and outlet of the prefilter. the amount of possible pretreatment equipment upstream of the high-pressure pump and the fact that it is usually a multi-stage pump. a pressure switch at its suction and a pump trip mechanism should be provided. 5.

This complete RO Plant is schematically represented in Figure 38 .

The raw water is pumped through the first stage. The purpose of this filter is to remove any turbidity and particulate matter from feed water before it enters the RO system and is not meant for routine filtration. Checklist for RO Operation 1. Valves and pressure gauges between the cartridge filter. The reject of the second stage now contains all the impurities removed by both stages. product recovery and reject water depends on the amount of TDS in feedwater. The RO system consists of stages. If not properly installed in can damage the High-pressure pump or foul the membrane 39 . temperature and on maintenance. Before starting the RO pump check the cartridge filter. The RO system removes 90 to 95% of dissolved solids in the raw water.Chapter 9 RO Plant Operation Introduction After the water has been properly pretreated and desired quality of water is obtained it is fed to the membrane through high-pressure pump Feedwater to the RO system is first pumped through a fine filter. the high-pressure pump and membrane modules control the flow. This is a replaceable cartridge element filter nominally rated at 5-10 microns. The exact percent of product purity. which again purifies 50 % and rejects 50 %. Thus the total flow through the system is 75% purified water and 25% reject water. The first stage purifies 50% of purified water fed to the system and rejects the remaining 50% that contain all the impurities. The reject from the first stage is then passed through the second stage. The filtered raw water than flows to high pressure pump. which contains twice the number of membrane modules as the second stage. which feeds the water at a pressure of 400 psi through the RO membrane unit.

level and the quality of water being produced. 2. Depending on the type of membrane and the recommendation adjust the pH to desired level and bypass the feedwater till pH is adjusted. Remember that if scale inhibitor is not added membrane can get scaled because of calcium salts and other inorganic. pressure.1 kg / Sq cm 10. Add chlorine. 11. Bigger plants have recorder. Inhibitor commonly employed is Sodium hexameta phosphate (SHMP). It is very necessary and also proves very useful if pretreatment is monitored and records maintained. More problems in RO membranes are caused by faulty pretreatment. It should be replaced whenever the headloss exceeds the recommended specification or if the effluent turbidity exceeds 1NTU. Increase in ∆p indicates that the system requires cleaning. The high-pressure pump should not start till the desired pressure is reached. The acid dosing pump should stop when the high-pressure pump stops.element. 5. The dose rate is so adjusted that the chlorine residual is between 1 to 2. which records this continuously. 4. Low pressure tripping is generally included in all RO plants. Check the suction pressure. 6. Start and check the scale inhibitor feeder equipment and adjust feed rate to desired dose (2 to 5mg/L) 3. 9. 8. 40 . ∆p should not increase more than 414 kpa or 4. In most RO plants acid dosing start and stop is directly linked to High-pressure pump. High-pressure switch is provided for tripping for protecting the membranes. For small plants chlorine is dosed through metering pump but in large plant gas chlorinators are used. With the system online monitor all flows. Adjust permeate and concentrate flow to establish the desired recovery rate. 7. Check the following after the desired flow rates have been achieved. RO pump should trip if the discharge pressure is higher than recommended. This should be noted. Check the differential pressure (∆p) = Feed pressure – concentrate pressure.

41 . or they may precipitate inside the system as a result of concentration changes occurring in the feed water as permeate is recovered through the membrane.Chapter 10 Chemical Cleaning Introduction Reverse osmosis (RO) is now an well-accepted unit operation in water treatment. Particulate Deposition or colloidal fouling 4. Acidification is used to prevent the formation of carbonates of low solubility. Chemical agents can be added to slow the formation of precipitates. Biofouling Inorganic Deposit or fouling This generally happens due to inorganic salts of low solubility. One of the major drawbacks of RO system is that the membrane can foul with the contaminants being removed from feed water. such as reverse osmosis (RO). Types of Foulant A membrane treatment system can be fouled by virtually anything present in the water being fed to the unit. An ion exchanger is sometimes used to trade cations of low solubility salts for cations that are more soluble. The cleaning of fouled membrane should be as soon as possible or there is all possibility of membrane getting damaged beyond repair A number of pre-treatment methods are employed to reduce the fouling potential of a membrane treatment feedwater. leading to unscheduled shutdown. or from internal changes of the membrane material. lost in production time. sodium sulfate may be traded for calcium sulfate. These may enter the treatment system in particle form. These methods include various types of conventional filtration. Scaling is a form of fouling that occurs when dissolved species are concentrated in excess of their solubility limit The fouled membrane can cause reduction in flux rate and operating efficiency. However. Inorganic fouling 2. most RO treatment systems must be cleaned regularly. No matter which method is used. such as magnesium carbonate. The common culprits are iron hydroxide Fe (OH) 3 and aluminum hydroxide Al (OH) 3. for example. disinfection and chemical treatment. replacement of membrane and resulting in downtime and additional expense. Organic Fouling 3. Membrane fouling can result from the formation of a fouling layer on the membrane surface. the foulants may be generally categorized as 1. Metal hydroxides are another example of an inorganic foulant. for common treatment systems.

may contain naturally occurring organics. This plugging may be worsened if inorganic particles. are also present. Large molecular weight compounds may act more as particles and may plug the feed spacer in the membrane element. colloidal silica. The symptoms are an increase of the differential pressure from feed to concentrate. It is more common to use chemical cleaning method. The mechanism behind organic fouling depends upon the size and chemical nature of the specific foulant. Organic compounds make up the next general category of foulants. The reasons are that bacteria can easily adapt to the environment inside the membrane treatment system. As an example.Organic Compounds. Biological fouling of the membranes may seriously affect the performance of the RO system. fungi. An example of mechanical means is by flushing with high velocity water. a small concentration of the chlorinated phenol in the feed water can cause a large loss of flux in the treatment system. viruses and higher organisms. such as clays and metal hydroxides. such as rivers and lakes. and iron corrosion products. Clarified water may contain leftover polymers. or cationic polyelectrolytes can also cause colloidal fouling if not removed in the clarifier or through proper media filtration Biological Organisms or foulants All raw waters contain microorganisms: bacteria. clay. An early sign of colloidal fouling is often an increased pressure differential across the system. algae. The source of silt or colloids in reverse osmosis feed waters is varied and often includes bacteria. Surface water sources. finally leading to telescoping and mechanical damage of the membrane elements Types of Membrane Cleaning Solutions Deposits from membrane surface is removed either by mechanical or chemical means. Low molecular weight organics may foul the surface of the membrane through chemical interaction. ferric chloride. In most RO system bacteria causes the majority of problems. Pretreatment chemicals used in a clarifier such as alum. Colloidal fouling Colloidal fouling of reverse osmosis elements can seriously impair performance by lowering productivity and sometimes-salt rejection. In this situation. and wastewater may contain any number of organic compounds. chlorinated phenols will adhere to the surface of an RO membrane by means of hydrogen bonding. such as humic acids. There are large numbers of chemical agents or formulation for removing scale and other deposits Broadly they can be classified as Acid Alkalizes Chelants Formulated Products 42 .

The best cleaning solution is found by trial and error but however this can be minimized by by a basic understanding of fouling problems and the general types of cleaning solutions used for these problems Each membrane manufacturer publishes specific instructions for cleaning and storing membranes when necessary.0-11. Cleaning and storage are critical operations that can extend or shorten the life of membranes. A contributing factor to its complexity is the complex nature of the fouling problem that initiated the cleaning in the first place. 43 . Sodium salt of EDTA 1% and sodium Hydroxide – pH(11.0) Phosphoric Acid 0.5% (wt) Scale/Metal Oxides X X Colloidal/Particulate Biological Organic X X X X X X X X Membrane Cleaning Clean membranes are critical for maintaining the efficient operation of RO System Chemical cleaning of membrane treatment systems is a complex because of various foulants.Cleaner Hydrochloric acid 0.5% (wt) & ammonium bi fluoride 2.5 % (wt) Sodium Hydroxide pH(11-11.9) Trisodium sulphate or sodium tripoly Phosphate 1% (wt).5 % (WT) Citric Acid 2 % (Wt) and ammonium Hydroxide(pH 4.9) Sodium hydrosulphite 1%(wt) & Detergent Citric Acid 2.

As a compromise. only one element would be cleaned at a time. at low pH and high pH. 44 . the foulants from the first stage have to be moved all the way through the second stage. the likelihood of getting them all through the second is very low. each stage should be cleaned separately so that the cleaning solution needs to go through only one vessel before returning to the mix tank. Begin mixing and warming the RO product water with a heater or 100 percent bypass. Also. surfactants to help penetrate and dissolve the film. Sodium hydroxide works well. Pump with some method of flow control 3. Make sure that the mixing tank is clean and that fresh cartridges have been installed in the filter. Cartridge filter 6. Temperature control 5. and a chelating agent to bind calcium ions. Flexible plumbing connectors (to isolate stages or vessels) 4.e. or extra-cellular polymeric slime) which are produced by well-established bacteria. 3. Depleting the EPS of its calcium building blocks helps the cleaning solution penetrate the biofilm. If pump does not have a variable speed drive. 2. Fill the mix tank with an adequate volume of RO product water. Temperature/pH sensor (portable or hand-held model will do) Generic Cleaning Process No more than one stage should be cleaned at a time. Some suggest adding enzymes to help break down cellular matter. Isolate the vessel or stage that is to be cleaned.Cleaning Regimes There are two basic types of cleaning regimes i. 5. Equipment The components of Clean in system (CIP) are 1. It is difficult enough to get them out of the first stage. When two stages are cleaned at once. Calcium is an important component in extra-cellular polysaccharides (EPS. Preparation 1. be sure that plumbing allows for flow bypass of pressure vessels so that flow can be controlled without increasing pressure to the membranes. at least two times the volume of the piping and pressure vessel that is being cleaned. Organic and biological films are best broken down with a high pH solution at the maximum temperature and pH limits for the membrane. 4. but that would be far too labor intensive. make sure that the hoses or piping used to connect the cleaning equipment to the membrane system is clean. Mix tank or storage tank with some method of mixing (volume should be twice the capacity of the vessel or stage that is to be cleaned) 2. Ideally. EPS protects them from disinfectants and cleaning agents.

Fill System Introduce the cleaning solution into the vessel or stage at a low flow rate with the concentrate stream going to drain. 7. however. Then the high flow may remove stubborn material and particles stuck in the spacer material. Maximum pressure drops for each element type given by the manufacturer. Thoroughly mix the cleaning solution and adjust for proper pH and temperature. preheated cleaning solution at a low flow rate with solution recirculating to the mix tank for about 15 minutes or until the return solution looks cleaner. Adjust pH as recommended by manufacturer. Low Flow Pumping Pump the mixed. Allow enough time for the pH and the temperatures stabilize before starting the cleaning process. Check solution appearance and make note of any cloudiness or suspended solids accumulation. In most cases. The operator prepares the cleaning solution as per manufacturers instruction. It is important to control the temperature during long soaking periods. Moderate Flow Pumping Increase to moderate flow rate with the solution still recirculating for another 15 minutes with the backpressure valve still open. heating may be necessary. The backpressure valve should be completely open so that no permeate is produced.1 lists sample cleaning flow rates for different sized elements. Soaking helps to dissolve stubborn films and precipitates. 45 . Table 9.6. The cleaning solution should be kept at the optimum temperature. Soak Reduce flow to lowest possible level for the soak period. High Flow Pumping After soaking. To determine when the system is completely filled. make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Adjust temperature to maximum possible limit as recommended by manufacturer. slowly increase the flow rate to the maximum allowable for your system. depending on the degree of fouling. if the ambient temperature is low and the optimum temperature is high. Flow rate should be increased slowly to flush out any large material loosened by soaking. If you are using a commercial cleaning formulation. this means keeping the temperature from rising too high. The pressure drop must be monitored during the high flow cycle. The membranes should soak for anywhere from one to fifteen hours. monitor the pH of the concentrate and divert the concentrate stream back to the mix tank when it matches that of the cleaning solution. The objective of this cycle is to dislodge larger particles and remove them from the system.

Formaldehyde or hydrogen peroxide can be used with thin film composites. Generally. Reduce backpressure for a short time. vegetable. The following are some procedures that can have a beneficial effect without avoiding the manufacturers warranty. Particulates could be mineral. though. refill the tank and add a sanitizer recommended by the membrane manufacturer. Sodium bisulfite or chlorine can be used with CA membranes. 1. Low pH Cleaning Precipitative fouling. so this method should be used only when disinfectants are present. After flushing. AP. Spiral wound and HFF membranes serve as excellent cartridge filters . A low temperature/low pH-cleaning regime is needed for scaling. passive cleaning is performed. it is best to use a low pH /low temperature cleaning solution first if more than one type of cleaning will be used. some cleaning solution will still be on the permeate side of the membrane. Table 9. High pH Cleaning It is often possible to determine what has happened to a membrane system by noting changes in the NPF. Effects are a decrease in rejection and NPF and an increase in AP. It also 46 . The cleaning strategy indicated for front end fouling of this sort is a high pH /high temperature regime. If. and flow rates through the system should increase. Passive Cleaning Passive cleaning is a milder form of cleaning that does not use chemicals or even a separate pump. Use caution with these chemicals. Since calcium carbonate is less soluble at higher temperatures. occurs at the tail end of the system where the feed stream is at its highest concentration.2 describes the symptoms of major types of fouling and which cleaning regime is called for. a decrease in NPF in the first stage means particulate fouling. and refill it with RO permeate. If live bacteria are present. high concentrations may cause damage. Flush out the system at a moderate flow rate with the concentrate stream diverted to drain. Permeation rate should drop. after putting the clean stage back on line. or rejection. Osmotic pressure will draw product water through the membrane to the concentrate side. 2. it may be possible to extend the time between chemical cleanings.Flush and Sanitize Take samples of the spent cleaning solution for chemical analysis. NPF. Turn off the system for an hour. After the cleaning process. Drain tank and piping. stopping flow could encourage a growth spurt. Low temperature means normal operating temperature. and rejection for each stage over time. This changes flow patterns through the system and can disrupt films that may be in process of taking root. or scaling. or animal in nature. This can help lift foulants off the surface.most particulates are trapped in the first couple of elements. say at 5 percent change in AP. divert product to drain until quality is acceptable. Rinse the tank. so.

When a membrane system is to be down for a few days.5”) (4”) (8”) 2 (0.washes away the high concentration layer right at the membrane surface and. 47 . RO product water is very aggressive in dissolving precipitates. could slow the scaling process.5) 10 (2. If the concentrated process water and pure product water are left in the membrane vessels. Membrane Storage Membrane systems work best when they operate continuously. in doing so. though. This can be beneficial in lifting foulants from the membrane surface in small quantities. For thin film composite membranes. flush the process water from the system and replace it with RO product water pumped into the system at low pressure. The change in flow pattern will also have the effect described above.6) 15 (4) 20 (5) 3 (1) 19 (5) 30 (8) 38 (10) 15 (4) 75 (20) 100 (26) 150 (40) Table 2 Impurity Soluble inorganic substances Causes Over saturation Presence of crystallizati on centers Effects Decrease In salt rejection in end stages Increase in pressure drop in end stages Decrease Normalized Permeate flow W’F) Scale formation on membrane surface or In bulk w/subsequent deposition Formation of ‘salt bridge’ facilitating Prevention Softening Acidification Use of chelating agents Remedy Low pH w/ chelate Normal operating temperature “Soak cycle Physical methods: ultrasound. 3. L / min (gal/min) 64 mm 102 mm 203 mm (2. While the danger of biological growth is the same for both types of membrane. the membranes will degrade over time. magnetic. Otherwise. low pressure flush with product water. the storage water should be oxidant-free. though. CA membranes should be stored in chlorinated water. but too much back flow can destroy the glue lines. Perform a high flow. It is unavoidable to have occasional shutdowns. damage from oxidation would be worse than biofouling for thin film composites. Table 1 Cleaning Cycle Module diameter Soaking Low flow Moderate flow High flow Feed flow rate. the difference in concentration across the membranes will cause osmotic flow from the product side to the concentrate side.

Fungi. etc) Gel formation on membrane surface Decrease in salt rejection Decrease in NPF Symptoms most likely to appear in last stage Softening “Same as Colloids Inadequate pretreatment Inadequate flow through module dead spaces Hydrophobi c attraction between cell and membrane surfaces Production of extracellular Decrease in NPF Initial increase in salt rejection Increase in pressure drop “Symptoms most likely to appear in first stage Accumulation of byproducts of metabolism Eventual deterioration of the membrane resulting in a decrease in rejection Decrease in flow at Pre filtration Use of surfactants during normal operation has been shown to prevent bacterial attachment Reduce recovery rate Same as Colloids Use of enzymes has been shown to help loosen biofilm 48 . algae.Soluble organic substances Humic and fulvic acids natural to surface waters Lack of adequate pretreatment Over utilization Over utilization Inadequate sedimentati on period protein Adsorption High concentration at membrane surface can cause denaturation of proteins which then are more of a fouling problem Formation of H bonds on contact w/ membrane Partial diffusion through membrane dependent on degree of branching Ultrafiltration High pH Coagulation High Sedimentation temperature High flow rate “Detergent Colloid materials (water insoluble inorganic Compoun ds: silica. etc.) Biological materials (bacteria. iron hydroxide s.

polymeric substances Cell fimbriae may help attach bacteria to molecular matrix of the membrane membrane surface can exacerbate concentration polarization phenomena 49 .

(∆P = feed pressure – Concentrate pressure). After the minimum suction pressure is built the high-pressure pump will start immediately switch off and check the direction of motor rotation. The concentrate valve determines the amount of rejected water leaving the RO unit and creates operating pressure shown on pressure gauge. If the motor is rotating in opposite direction change any two of the three leads Always Turn Power off When Changing wire 10. Once the high-pressure pump starts the Permeate and Concentrate flow should be adjusted so as to establish the desired recovery rate. 13. 4. Initiate the start from the control panel 11. Once the flow has been established check the delta P (∆P) across the RO unit. 8. switch to on position. Water will begin to flow but the pump will not start. 5. 6. 9. The pump should not start at this point. Open your concentrate and recycle flow control valves. Ensure that all pre RO devices have been flushed. 12. 14. and are operating within their specification. Check for leaks and repair if needed 7. The motor should rotate clockwise while looking at the motor end. tested. The system is now operational. thus indicating the need for cleaning. The Permeate and concentrate are allowed to flow to drain before the RO unit is taken to operation. Any interlock provided to RO unit should be tested before the unit is put into operation 2. 17. This will ensure that all the preservative has been removed from the membrane element. pH are met.CHAPTER 11 Troubleshooting Starting the RO unit 1. 3. 18. With the power source to the motor starter de-energized. Adjust the Concentrate valve to achieve desired flow and the recycle valve to bring the operating pressure upto 15. When the elements get fouled ∆P usually increases. Turn the feedwater supply on gradually and check for leaks in the inlet plumbing. Once all condition like desired suction pressure. Energize the power source to motor starter. 50 . 16. Ensure that all valves in the water supply line to RO are open. No flow should go through the RO membrane while the power is off and the solenoid valve is in closed position. Once the desired flow rate is achieved at the operating pressure no further valve adjustment is required. the high pressure pump will start automatically. Proper adjustment of these two valves is critical to the operation of RO Unit.

RO may be working properly but changes in critical operating parameters like TDS. (Remember RO rejects a fixed percentage of salts) 51 .Troubleshooting RO Plant Troubleshooting of any plant is carried when it performance does not meet the specification or when there has been abrupt change in its performance. 3. 5. Recalibrate all instruments. 3. Normalized production changes by 15 % 2. Checking and verifying instrument operation Reviewing operating Data Checking for component failure Checking for chemical upset Shutdown Checking and verifying instrument operation Conductivity. Normalized salt passage changes by 50% 3. These will help you in diagnosing whether there is a system upset or fouling. I suggest that Pressure-monitoring instrument should be recalibrated more often because it is an important measurement in RO operation. It is therefore very necessary that instrument measuring this should be accurate and functioning properly. Similarly RO plants also require troubleshooting if there is unacceptable change in quality and quantity of water produced. 2. Temperature. recovery or flux can mislead you. 1. Increase in feed water TDS increases feed pressure requirement. Differential pressure changes by 15 % Troubleshooting steps for RO plant 1. 2. Once it is checked that all instruments are working properly go the next step Reviewing operating Data Check the operating log sheet. Increase in feed water TDS also increases Product (permeate) conductivity. The following points will help in identifying the problem 1. The recommended calibration schedules are  pH sensors. The following indicates that RO plants need troubleshooting. indicators and recorder 30 days  Conductivity sensors. 4. indicators and recorders 90 days  Flow sensor indicators and recorders 90 days  All other instrument 180 days Though most companies recommend this. pressure and pH play very important role in RO operation. Decrease in feed water temperature increases feed pressure requirement.

52 . Lower dosage can lead to metal oxide formation or carbonate scaling.4. Higher than recommended dosing of coagulants and polymer can lead to membrane fouling. Failure of dosing pumps 6. Improper acid addition: More acid can lead to membrane damage and sulfate scaling if H2SO4 is used. Therefore if recovery is constant. Damaged O rings 2. RO operation can be done by examining operating logs and by normalizing the logged operating data. Checking for component failure The system upset can also be due to mechanical problem The mechanical failures can be 1. Failure of high pressure pump 5.high dosing leads to fouling and low leads to scaling. Damaged brine seals 4. a reduction in permeate flow results in a lower water flux. Damaged or missing feed tubes in hollow fiber permeators. Valve leakage 7. Normalization is the mathematical procedure for correcting actual production and salt rejection value to standard condition. which will increase conductivity. percent salt rejection and feed to reject pressure drop called corrected ∆p. Improper pretreatment 2. Cartridge filter Checking for chemical upset The chemical upset can be 1. 3. The program graphically charts normalized permeate flow. Most membrane suppliers today have developed computer software for projecting “Normalization”. Piping failure 8. We had mentioned earlier that passage of salt is independent of passage of water through the membrane. 3. Improper scale inhibitor dosing. 4. Normalizing helps in predicting system performance and also helps in scheduling the cleaning frequency. Increase in percent recovery of the system increases the reject TDS (This boosts permeate conductivity) 5.

The pH controller generally controls acid fouling. carry out the recommended procedure of storing (see previous Chapter) A troubleshooting chart is always helpful in fault diagnosis CHECK Pressure drop between feed and reject. This will help in identifying the problem and the likely foulant. chemical upset and water chemistry have been ruled out as the likely cause. If the unit is going to be shut down for long. Shutdown Every time the RO shuts down or trips for any abnormal conditions. This is done by studying the water analysis of feed. EFFECT More than 15% indicates fouling of feed path and membrane surface. the next step is to identify the foulants. the RO must be flushed for 5 minutes with DI water before shutting down the system. More indicates fouling of membrane surface. Pressure drop between feed and permeate Permeate conductivity Has not increased by more than 15%. Requires cleaning More indicates fouling of membrane surface. the unit automatically goes into the flushing mode. More or less acid dosing than required. Has not increased by more than 15%.Once all the above problems – Mechanical. Requires cleaning. Effect of 53 . Acid dosing Is within recommended value. Wrong operation False sense of security that everything is OK. which will help in verifying if any extraordinary changes have taken place. Less can cause carbonate scaling or metal oxide Instruments Reading Verify by calibration and carryout of lab check of the parameters the pH meter calibration & control instrument is monitoring. More can cause membrane damage or sulfate scaling. which caused the problem. If the RO plant is run under manual condition. brine and product stream over a period of time. Requires cleaning. VERIFY Has not increased by more than 15%.

Probing with ¼ ‘ plastic tube and by measuring how far it has been Brine valve inserted. Failure can lead to increase salt passage. Decrease pressure drop.dosing pumps. If fully closed. this as already been mentioned earlier. Should not be closed fully. The pH controller should be calibrated periodically and tripping of dosing pump to the set point should be O ring checked. increase permeate flow. 100% recovery will result and cause membrane damage due to precipitation of inorganic salt. For Equipment trouble shooting – See manual on Equipment trouble shooting 54 .