RO membrane cleaning using microbubbles at 6,800m3/day Wastewater RO Plant in UAE.

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It is well known that any fouling of the membrane surface has a dramatic effect on energy consumption and plant efficiency; this is particularly true for waste water RO plants due to the higher fouling rate. Such fouling can be very difficult to clean using commodity chemicals or even speciality chemicals.

This paper explores the use of a novel cleaning process designed to increase the efficiency of membrane cleaning using microbubbles. The microbubbles were created by both a physical and chemical process, which circulate in the cleaning solution increasing turbulence at the membrane surface. These bubbles create shear forces which agitate and dislodge the foulant giving greater removal in a reduced time period.

In order to demonstrate the there was no damage to the membrane surface or element using this cleaning method with microbubbles , we selected a number of 8' membranes from the major membrane manufacturers and performed repeat cleans over a 12 month period. Membranes were autopsied to analyse presence of damage, flux and salt rejection (SR) performance, results showed that no damage was caused by using this method. These compatibility results were presented in papers at IDA Tianjin 2013.

This paper explains how the multiple cleaning mechanisms (both physical and chemical) help remove foulants and restore performance at a sewage effluent treatment plant producing high quality water for reuse. The 6,800 m3/d plant treats conventional activated sludge with microfiltration (MF) and reverse osmosis (RO). Cleans were conducted every 2 or 3 months due to reduced flows and high differential pressures. The new cleaning method using microbubbles with specially formulated cleaning compound cleaners demonstrated that the plant could be cleaned more efficiently and in a shorter timescale than using conventional cleaners.

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