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7 things that can harm your Sea Water RO Membrane

A SWRO (Sea water Reverse Osmosis) plant converts sea water into fresh water through the process of desalination. This process is accomplished with the help of many components that work together to remove impurities from the feed (sea) water. An RO membrane is one such component that is crucial to the process.



RO membranes separate salt from the feed water and are protected inside cylindrical pressure vessels made specially to hold the membranes. Filtration processes are added to RO systems to eliminate particles that can cause fouling or scaling on the membranes. Fouling, scaling or damage to the RO membrane affects system performance and product water quality. This makes it imperative to take utmost care of your RO membrane. As they say, ‘Prevention is better than Cure’, so here is a list of 7 things you should keep away from your RO membrane:


1. Chlorine: Even a small amount of chlorine if present in the feedwater, can destroy RO membranes. Fortunately, chlorine is not a naturally occurring element in either sea water or freshwater. There are situations where you can still encounter chlorine in the feedwater. An example of this might be if your feedwater intake is located near a discharge. An analysis of your feed water can determine if pretreatment and chlorine removal is required before passing it through the membranes.


Reach out to Advanced Watertek to know more about reliable instruments for water quality analysis by Myron L.

2. High temperature: Very high temperature can cause permanent damage to the membrane and support structures. High feedwater temperature can also decrease the membrane’s ability to reject salt and consequently result in low product water quality. As a precautionary measure, your RO plant should not be stored in direct sunlight or in areas where internal temperature could exceed 40-degree C. A controlled temperature can be maintained by thermally insulated, containerized systems.


3. Low temperature: Just like high temperatures, fluctuations or low temperatures in the feed water can also cause dramatic decrease in flow rates. It is therefore essential to place the RO system in a temperature-controlled area and monitor feed water temperature periodically.


Talk to our RO System Specialists to know more about containerized solutions for RO systems. Our containerized RO Systems are built inside thermally insulated, air-conditioned containers, ideal for Water Treatment systems for camp sites, oil rigs, construction sites or similar tough locations.


4. Rust: Membranes are highly susceptible to iron (rust) fouling. Every possible precaution must be taken to avoid contamination by rust. If rust cannot be avoided, acid dosing may be required.


The service team from Advanced Watertek can inspect your system and advice if acid dosing to remove rust from your RO membranes is required.


5. Oil: The most likely location you would encounter oil is at a harbor or around drilling operations. Oil can coat the membrane and decrease efficiency of the membrane and system. The good news is that in most instances, membranes that have been coated with oil can be cleaned. However, there is no guarantee that the efficiency of the RO membrane will be the same. To avoid oil entering the RO system, oil-water separator packages may be installed to remove the oil.


6. Silt, Mud, Sand and Algae: Suspended matter like silt, mud and algae can cause considerable damage to RO membranes. They also decrease system performance and increase maintenance requirement. Heavy concentration of such suspended matter would mean that additional filtration packages like multimedia filtration or carbon filtration must be considered within the RO system. Multimedia and carbon filtration are low cost and low maintenance methods of water treatment. Water is passed at high pressures through layers of sand, gravel, anthracite or carbon causing the suspended matter to be trapped behind.


Reach out to the team at Advanced Watertek to know more about our filtration and pre-treatment packages.


7. Drying out: Membranes once wet must be kept moist, failing which the membrane could be damaged. To prevent drying out the membranes must be transported with care before being placed within the pressure vessel. The system must also be maintained at suitable temperatures to avoid water vaporization.


Talk to your RO system supplier for preservation procedures that will keep your RO membrane moist and clean when not in use.


In addition to the above, regular cleaning, maintenance and replacement of your RO membranes is recommended for the health of your RO system. Reach out to Advanced Watertek to have our team inspect your RO plant and recommend a service procedure.

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