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Current IssueSeptember 03, 2015
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Ask The Expert: RO fouling in Tanzania
Question: Q: I'm having problem with our R/O system. We process brackish well water, TDS 890 ppm to pure drinking water. The system is designed to process 5,000 liters of purified water per hour. In the beginning it did, but after processing 200,000 liters, permeate output has been reduced to 2,000 liters. The suppliers have done chemical cleaning on the membrane and also a phosphoric acid cleaning for manganese, but the output has still remained the same. In my opinion, I think we have a case of membrane fouling. What are the possible causes of membrane fouling and please advice if you think it is otherwise.

Murtaza Jessa, Operations Manager
A-One Products & Bottlers Ltd.
Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania

Answer: A: You may need some form of pre-treatment to protect your RO unit. Organics and other waterborne contaminants can foul RO and activated carbon can remove organics. Possibly an activated carbon adsorption system in front of your RO would solve your problem. Additional pre-treatment may be required, such as sediment filters, to create a graduated reduction process. In the end though, because of the cost of RO membranes, you want to reduce the full load on the membrane to preserve it as long as possible. It's cheaper, usually, to replace pretreatment filters.

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