During normal operation over a period of time, RO membrane elements are subject to fouling by suspended or sparingly soluble materials that may be present in the feedwater.
Common examples of foulants are:
Calcium carbonate scale Sulfate scale of calcium, barium or strontium Metal oxides (iron, manganese, copper, nickel, aluminum, etc.) Polymerized silica scale Inorganic colloidal deposits Mixed inorganic/organic colloidal deposits NOM organic material (Natural Organic Matter) Man-made organic material (e.g. antiscalant/dispersants, cationic polyelectrolytes) Biological (bacterial bioslime, algae, mold, or fungi) The nature and rapidity of fouling depends on a number of factors, such as the quality of the feedwater and the system recovery rate. Typically, fouling is progressive, and if not controlled early, will impair the RO membrane element performance in a relatively short time. Cleaning should occur when the RO shows evidence of fouling, just prior to a long-term shutdown, or as a matter of scheduled routine maintenance. The elements shall be maintained in a clean or "nearly clean" condition to prevent excessive fouling by the foulants listed above.
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