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New Reversible RO Approach Shows Potential for Reducing Membrane Fouling in Brackish Water Applications

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Testing of a novel reversible reverse osmosis (RO) pilot plant in which the feed flow to each membrane stage is reversed periodically, thus making the lead element the lag element, and so on, was completed. A 1.6 L/s (25 gpm) two-stage RO pilot plant was designed and built for testing. The unit was operated for 2,100 hours in conventional forward mode and 2,300 hours using the reversible flow operation. RO recovery was limited to about 70 percent due to the relatively high levels of silica (50 mg/L). Results indicated that, when operating on a 24 hour reversible cycle, there was little difference between forward and reversible operation. However, when the reversible cycle time was reduced to 12 hours and then to 8 hours, noticeable improvements in performance were observed. The net driving pressure flattened in both membrane stages indicating a reduction in fouling. Higher recovery was also achieved.
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Keywords: Biological Fouling; Membrane Fouling Reduction; Reverse Osmosis; Reversible Flow; Zero-Liquid Discharge

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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