A close up of a dirty submerged sheet membrane against a new one

How to maintain hollow fibre and sheet membrane filtration systems

Marcus Green
April 22, 2024
4 minute read
Operations and Maintenance

Hollow Fibre and Sheet Membrane systems offer many benefits due to their filtration efficiency, compact nature and high surface area that allows for processing significant volumes of wastewater. They can also be submerged to allow direct contact with the liquid, reducing fouling and simplifying system design.

Fouling, scaling and deterioration of the membranes can affect the performance of the membranes and reduce lifespan – so regular cleaning in place and maintenance are essential to maintain efficiency and maximise their lifespan.

8 Essential Maintenance Tasks

1. Cleaning

Cleaning in Place (CIP) is essential to remove accumulated particles, biofilms, and fouling on the membrane surface. Cleaning activities may involve chemical cleaning, backwashing, or other methods depending on the nature of the contaminants.

2. Integrity Testing

To ensure membranes remain structurally sound periodic integrity testing should be performed to avoid performance issues and allow for quick rectification.

3. Chemical Compatibility Checks

Using the wrong chemical can cause deterioration of a membrane, so it is essential to select the most compatible chemical which is best done through compatibility testing. These checks can also choose the most cost-effective chemical.

4. Monitoring Operating Parameters

Regularly monitoring and optimising operating parameters such as pressure, flow rates, and temperature is essential for maintaining optimal membrane performance and preventing damage.

5. Preventative Maintenance

Implementing preventive maintenance measures, such as routine system checks and timely replacement of consumables, can prevent unexpected issues and downtime and significantly increase membrane lifespan.

6. Monitoring Feedwater Quality

Monitoring the quality of the feedwater helps identify changes in water composition that may impact membrane performance. Adjustments to the pre-treatment process may be necessary to maintain optimal membrane function.

7. Recordkeeping and Data Analysis

Keeping detailed records of maintenance activities, performance data, and any issues encountered allows for trend analysis and helps in making informed decisions regarding system optimisation and troubleshooting.

8. Replacement of Worn-out or Damaged Membranes

Over time, membranes may need replacement due to damage or wear and tear. Regular inspections help identify membranes that require replacement before they significantly impact performance.

When to engage a membrane expert

Some key areas of membrane maintenance require specialist knowledge and training for it to be completed in a safe and compliant manner as it is highly skilled work, often carried out in confined spaces. Alpheus work with some leading UK brands to provide services such as:

Membrane replacement

This is an essential task and the end of an asset's lifespan, and as technology advances it can deliver further efficiency improvements. Read how a popular UK holiday park is on track to make savings of up to 30% in energy use after we replaced their membranes.

Integrity testing

During routine cleaning in place, we conduct pressure testing to check for issues which enables the identification and swift repairs (or replacement) if needed, before the damage leads to disruption or breach of compliance.

Membrane repairs

Where leaks are identified during integrity testing, repairs can be a cost-effective way to extend the asset lifespan if the damage is minor.

Membrane recovery

Discover more about Alpheus’s operation and maintenance services and see how we can help you extend the lifespan of your Hollow Fibre MBR or Sheet Membrane system to ensure reliability and compliance, as well as reduce operating costs.

Find out more about O&M services

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