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Using Ultrafiltration to Increase Industrial System Efficiency

water drip with ripples

Using Ultrafiltration to Increase Industrial System Efficiency

Whether your company produces energy or physical products, water is a critical element of the production process. Water may be used to wash, manufacture, and process products, and it can be used as a conductor of thermal energy to heat or cool items or machines. It can even be directly incorporated into the products you create. Treating the water being used in your facility properly can increase overall efficiency and prevent damage to expensive machinery in your facility. Investing in the right filtration or treatment system can save money and reduce the risk of future production delays for your company.

Water Is Critical for Industrial Operations

Water is not only critical for the maintenance of life, it is also necessary for just about every industrial function. From the need to wash finished products to its use to cool components or machines, water can fill a number of major roles for your facility. That water should meet certain standards to ensure that it’s safe for use on machinery, including a low amount of mineralization and dissolved solids and an absence of pathogens such as amoebas, bacteria, and even viruses or prions.

While many industrial facilities use reverse osmosis for water treatment, on its own, it may not be enough or may slow production and reduce efficiency.

How Water Can Damage or Degrade Machines

When water enters your facility, it’s probably bringing unwanted contaminants with it. Whether it’s being used to cool, wash, or make a product, water that is full of minerals and other undesirable contaminants can cause a lot of issues. From excessive minerals accruing on the inside of pipes to increased risk of corrosion, poorly filtered or treated water can damage your machinery and infrastructure, resulting in replacement or repair expenses that can reduce profitability. Water that has been filtered and cleaned poses less risk or corrosion or mineralization.

Why Reverse Osmosis Isn’t Enough

In areas with hard water or in facilities that are not using pre-treated water from a municipal source, reverse osmosis may help reduce dangerous organisms and dissolved solids. However, reverse osmosis systems have limits to how much water they can process. The dirtier or more contaminated the original water, the faster the reverse osmosis system will be plugged up with accumulated solids such as silt and previously dissolved minerals. When your reverse osmosis system is strained or underperforming, it can slow production in your facility to a crawl or even bring it to a standstill.

What Is Ultrafiltration?

Ultrafiltration, sometimes abbreviated to UF, is a mechanical process wherein water passes through a physical filter to reduce dissolved solids and other contaminants. Basically, water is forced through a porous material whose holes are so small that most, if not all dissolved solids are left behind when it passes through. UF employs modern barrier technology by forcing water through membranes with incredibly small pore sizes. Dissolved minerals, silt, and even bacteria, amoebas, and viruses can be eliminated in this manner. The Ultrafiltration process is incredibly effective at improving water quality and eliminating the vast majority of contaminants.

How Does Ultrafiltration Work?

Ultrafiltration setups typically force water through the filters at a relatively low pressure, typically between seven and twenty-five pounds per square inch. The filter itself is typically a hollow bundle of fibers housed within a pressurized system. Most Ultrafiltration systems have filters made from polyvinylidene fluoride, which strong and also resistant to oxidation and chlorine degradation. The pressure forces the water through the pores of the filter, leaving behind all the contaminants and dissolved solids that could impact the production process.

What Way Does the Water Flow?

The water is typically pushed from the outside in, allowing the larger surface area of the outside of the filter to catch and accumulate the contaminants. This not only allows for longer use between cleanings of the filter by backwashing water through it to remove the contaminants, it also allows the filter to handle more water than outside in filtration, which offers less surface area for water to pass through. Depending on what is being removed by filtration, some companies may incorporate a diluted chemical agent such as sodium hypochlorite into their backwash to aid in cleaning and kill bacteria or viruses.

Ultrafiltration Protects Your Reverse Osmosis System

Reverse osmosis systems are commonly used to purify and clean water in industrial settings. However, over time, the suspended solids that enter the reverse osmosis system build up, leading to issues with performance. By using Ultrafiltration as a pre-treatment for water that will be processed in a reverse osmosis system, your company not only better ensures the quality of the end water but also improved the functionality and life of your reverse osmosis system. Chances are, your reserve osmosis system represents a substantial investment for your company, and extending its usable life can save money.

How Ultrafiltration Improves Efficiency

From the prevention of degradation and breakdown of critical reverse osmosis systems to the removal of dangerous contaminants from water that could damage your production equipment, Ultrafiltration is a simple, cost-effective means of improving water quality. Installing Ultrafiltration systems as a pre-treatment for water that will be processed via a reverse osmosis system reduces the need to clean the reverse osmosis system, as well as the need to clean or repair the infrastructure that carries water through your facility. Because it is a physical filtration process, it is relatively fast and will not noticeably increase processing time for water being brought into your facility.

Ultrafiltration Can Increase Water Output

Because of their scalable size and the physical mechanism by which it cleans the water, Ultrafiltration systems installed in an industrial setting can increase overall water output for production. The Ultrafiltration system can substantially reduce the burden placed on your reverse osmosis system. Because there is less pressure and wear on the reverse osmosis system, lost time to maintenance and cleaning are also minimized. The longer your Ultrafiltration system and reverse osmosis system can operate optimally without physical cleaning or intervention, the more water they can process for your facility.

Ultrafiltration Is Protection Against Reverse Osmosis System Failure

In a worst-case scenario, the accumulated solids and gunk that your reverse osmosis system removes from the water being brought in for use in your industrial setting can result in a system failure, requiring intensive cleaning, repairs, or even complete replacement of the reverse osmosis system that your company depends on for its daily operations. That can result in hours or even days of lost productivity and substantial expenses in terms of equipment purchases. Installing and regularly cleaning an efficient Ultrafiltration system is a great way to minimize the wear and tear on your reverse osmosis system and prevent unnecessary downtime for your facility.

Ultrafiltration Is an Affordable, Common Sense Choice

If your company is reliant on untreated water, groundwater, or municipal water that has high levels of dissolved solids, particularly minerals, investing in an Ultrafiltration system can be a very cost effective means of ensuring water quality and lengthening the usable life of your reverse osmosis system. As the demand for Ultrafiltration has gone up in industrial settings, the availability of these filters has increased, while their overall production and retail cost have decreased. There’s never been a better time to add an Ultrafiltration pre-treatment system to your industrial water treatment process.

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com