Spring heralds RO/FO membrane market boom

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LONDON, England, April. 26, 2012 -- The onset of Spring has brought a bright start to the desalination industry with new membrane developments from Siemens, Lanxess, Nano H2O and HTI.

Siemens Industry Automation Division has launched a new reverse osmosis (RO) system into the European market. The Vantage M83 RO compact system is suitable for use in applications such fields as the food and beverage, power, microelectronics and solar industries.

Siemens said that by using variable frequency drive (VFD) controlled feed pumps, potential energy savings can range from 15% to 60% compared to conventional in-line starter controlled pumps.

Three equipment models will be available in Europe, including economy, deluxe and select. Each unit is a single-pass RO system mounted on an industrial coated structural steel frame or a stainless steel frame for the Select package. The RO unit includes a cartridge filter, high pressure feed pump, fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) side-entry pressure vessels and spiral-wound thin film composite RO membranes.

The system requires a footprint of 82.5 x 429.5 cm and has a height of 237.8 cm, which allows it to fit through standard doorways of industrial buildings. It can be used for the production of process and boiler feed water as well as for wastewater and process water recycling.

Meanwhile chemicals company Lanxess is offering Lewabrane membrane separation elements for reverse osmosis to compliment its established Lewatit ion exchange resins. The firm said one application for the new Lewabrane RO membrane elements is the preparation of feedwater that customers can use for electrodeionization (EDI) applications.

The EDI process allows for the production of ultrapure water with very low electrical conductivity without the need for regeneration chemicals. High performance RO membranes can provide a reduced load on the downstream EDI process improving cost performance.

With a standard length of 40 inches (1,016 mm) and a diameter of eight inches, Lewabrane RO B400 HR has an active membrane surface area of 400 square feet (37.2 m²). Salt rejection is 99.7% for a daily permeate flow rate of 37.9 m³, under standard industry reference conditions.

Furthermore, California-based NanoH2O has launched its newest additions to the QuantumFlux line of RO membranes – the Qfx SW 400 R and Qfx SW 400 SR. Both products feature 99.85% stabilized salt rejection and NSF Standard 61 Certification. The EMALSA desalination facility in the Canary Islands has been pilot testing a combination of the Qfx high rejection R and SR elements, in 365 square-foot configurations, within a single pressure vessel for almost 180 days.

Raúl Lemes de León, technical director at EMALSA, said: “To date, the performance of the Qfx membranes has been highly stable and producing almost 50% more water with lower total dissolved solids (TDS), at the same operating pressure, than other membranes currently installed in the skid.”

NanoH2O said the improvement in salt rejection over existing membranes typically provides a 25% improvement in permeate quality versus competing membranes under the same operating conditions.

Finally, Forward Osmosis (FO) membrane manufacturer Hydration Technology Innovations (HTI) has also started commercial manufacturing of a new highly durable, dimensionally stable, thin film composite membrane as the most recent addition to the OsMem FO membrane line. HTI said the spiral elements have more than double the permeability and flux rate of its existing Cellulose Tri-Acetate (CTA) FO membrane.

The manufacturer said the new thin film composite membrane is a high permeability, high rejection membrane that is pH tolerant in a 2.0 to 12.0 range and can also withstand the rigors of pressure retarded osmosis (PRO) operating conditions. The flat sheet flux of production membranes averages 20 LMH in FO mode and 49 LMH in PRO mode at a test condition of 1 M NaCl as draw solute and DI water as feed solution at 23C and CFV (cross flow velocity) of 30 cm/sec.

The product is also testing at a power rating of 3.5W/m² for PRO at 10C at 150psi. Comparatively, HTI’s CTA FO membrane has a flux of 9 LMH. Salt rejection values for the new product also compare favorably for polyamide membranes at 99.3% minimum.

HTI said the thin film composite provides an economical alternative to treating industrial wastewater, by serving as a pre-treatment to Reverse Osmosis. Targeted industrial applications include Landfill Leachate, Oil & Gas Wastewater, Cooling Tower Make-Up Water and Osmotic Membrane Bioreactors (OsMBR).

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