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Membrane Filtration in Industrial Water Treatment

Humans have employed filters for various purposes for millennia. The Romans used them to remove soil and leaves from the water carried by their aqueducts, and the famed Greek physician Hippocrates filtered boiled water through a conical fabric “sleeve” to further purify it. Porous, unglazed clay pots served a similar purpose in ancient Egypt. Each of these techniques remains in use today, albeit in a more sophisticated form. However, none of these can compete with the exceptional performance possible with modern membrane filtration technology. 

All of the techniques mentioned rely on the same physical characteristic of the chosen filter medium, namely its porosity. The smaller its pores, the smaller the particles it can remove. While most media can clear a liquid of even the tiniest visible particles, not all are effective against its invisible contents, such as microorganisms and potentially toxic chemicals. However, with a few adjustments, a technique borrowed from nature can now remove all suspended or dissolved contaminants using a microporous membrane to enable filtration at a molecular level in some cases. 

The Benefits of Membrane Filtration in Wastewater Treatment

The ultimate adaptation of this technology is known as reverse osmosis (RO) and can remove particles as small as 0,1nm. RO has subsequently replaced evaporative methods as the technology of choice for use in desalination plants. Finely porous artificial membranes are also proving invaluable in many other fields, including industrial wastewater treatment, where they offer several significant benefits. Most importantly, they are inexpensive and require no chemical additives while providing a rapid and energy-efficient solution.

In many industries, membrane filtration is helping to reduce operating costs by processing wastewater and reusing it. However, plants that don’t recycle their liquid waste must still ensure it meets the mandatory quality standards before releasing it into the environment. This technology is the most effective option where there might be a risk that a factory’s discarded effluents could contain harmful bacteria or toxic substances.

Cellulose acetate and nitrate, nylon, polypropylene and PTFE are among the biologically-inert materials commonly used to manufacture these artificial membranes, offering a range of porosities. However, membrane filtration is intended for clear liquids free of larger particles that could quickly block their pores. Consequently, they are designed for use as the final treatment stage when processing wastewater. Any pH adjustments, coarse filtering and other necessary chemical treatments should be completed first.

Membrane Filtration Solutions Offered by Watericon

Factors such as the medium used and its pore size can be crucial to the efficiency of industrial water treatment. Watericon is Africa’s premier source of water treatment solutions for municipalities and all types of industries, partnering with leading brands to assure optimum performance. Check out our membrane filtration solutions to see how this technology could benefit your operation.