Membrane Services

Increasing the performance of UF/NF/RO membrane plants

Increasing the performance of UF/NF/RO membrane plants

What is membrane water treatment technology?

A membrane is a selective barrier, usually a thin film that allows certain components of a mixture to pass through but hinders the permeation of other components, thus achieving a separation.

Membrane water treatment is a technique for removing contaminants from water. Water filtration facilities use different types of membranes to filter surface water, groundwater, and wastewater. The membrane water treatment technology makes it fit for industrial use and human consumption.

Different types of membranes and processes are used to clean surface water, groundwater and wastewater. The material transported through the membrane is affected by the driving force acting upon it. Pressure-driven membrane processes are most established. This technology uses membranes with highly specialized characteristics to remove particles through physical separation.

There are mainly four types of membranes – reverse osmosis (RO), nanofiltration (NF), ultrafiltration (UF) and microfiltration (MF). RO is a commonly used technique to generate drinking water from groundwater. It utilizes pressure to separate water from all other materials including bacteria, spores, salts etc. NF, also known as Membrane Softening, is like RO, however it allows some salts to pass through while rejecting larger molecules. Under UF technique the pores are large and the pressure in which the liquid passes through them is relatively lesser. It allows salts, sugars, organic acids to pass through the membrane while restricting proteins and fats. In MF, substances like suspended solids, bacteria and fat globules are filtered out through the pores.

 

Why is membrane water technology important ?

As desalination becomes a key source of clean water, Ultrafiltration (UF) / Nanofiltration (NF) / Reverse Osmosis (RO) membrane water treatment plants will be an integral part of water infrastructure worldwide.

However, RO plant operation often reveals a troubling history of under-delivery, interrupted production, and unplanned cost increases due to higher consumption of energy and chemicals, event-driven unscheduled membrane replacement, degrading performance, and shortened membrane lifetime.

Plant owners and operators face constant pressure to save costs in terms of membrane replacements, consumables, energy, and labour. Moreover, utilising common system-oriented operating KPIs is not enough to drive sustainable optimisation.

UF / NMF / RO membrane filtration water treatment elements are critical to plant performance, yet its condition is largely unknown and only indirectly measurable, as operations do not allow inspection of the complex physical-chemical processes inside the elements. This lack of comprehensive UF / NMF / RO membrane condition documentation is a major disadvantage when seeking to optimise plant performance and engaging with membrane, chemical, and other component suppliers.


TÜV SÜD HELPS TO ACHIEVE SIGNIFICANT AND SUSTAINABLE OPTIMISATION OF UF/NF/RO PLANTS

 

At TÜV SÜD we help water treatment plant owners and operators with continuous monitoring of membranes through in-house accredited laboratories and technical advisory services drawing upon extensive plant operating and troubleshooting experience.

To realise the significant and sustainable optimisation potential that exists in a UF / NF / RO plant, a deep understanding of the membrane element lifecycle is essential. A sustained element-oriented understanding enables optimisation efforts to be qualified and quantified in a risk-mitigated manner. As an independent and impartial technical advisor, we are not tied to any vendor technologies. Our only agenda is the performance of your plant.

 

WHAT DO TÜV SÜD’S MEMBRANE SERVICES INCLUDE ?

 

TÜV SÜD offers membrane autopsy services that focus on the characterisation of the membrane element and are aimed at maintenance optimisation. The unique value-maximising potential of the UF/NF/ RO plant optimisation draws on the insights gained from element characterisation.

Our Membrane Autopsy Services include:

  • Continuous membrane element characterisation
    We conduct a structured condition test programme on select UF / NF / RO elements in our accredited labs for consistent and comparable information on each element’s condition. This detailed history supports preventive maintenance measures and root cause analysis if the performance of the membrane degrades.

  • Membrane autopsy
    Our membrane autopsy services comprise 20 specific tests conducted on different types of membranes for fouling issues or reduced performance. Through this technique, membranes are thoroughly analysed to determine the root cause of the problem, and mitigation measures are developed accordingly.

  • Sustained fact-based UF / NF / RO plant optimisation
    Leveraging your operating team’s experience, we develop an integrated, prioritised optimisation membrane autopsy services programme targeting savings in consumables, energy and labour. Once the plant’s operational history has been documented sufficiently, an optimised operation and maintenance strategy is developed. It is prepared as a business case synthesising technical/financial/risk considerations and sensitivities.

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