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The Water Quality Improvement Center

Research Facilities and Test Equipment - Membrane Process Research Units

Membrane Process Research Units at the Water Quality Improvement Center (WQIC) include three bench-scale systems, screening, full recovery, and mobile units.

Bench Scale Equipment

The bench scale equipment includes the Swatch Testing System, Membrane Test Apparatus (MTA), and the Membrane Evaluation Apparatus (MEA). All three are skid mount systems designed to evaluate the performance of membranes under normal and abnormal operating conditions. Their primary performance variables include salt rejections and membrane water flux at a constant pressure. The performance of the membranes can be compared in side-by-side operation to the performances of commercial membranes. The feed water typically contains dissolved solids and is entirely free of suspended solids.

The design characteristic of these units provides data for each membrane cell as appropriate: feed pressure, feed flow, reject flow, product flow, feed conductivity, reject conductivity, product conductivity, temperature, pH, and free chlorine concentrations. The systems include a chiller to control process water temperatures, and an on-board Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system to monitor and control process variables. All three systems were designed and built by the Bureau of Reclamation and can be reconfigured for membrane vessels and to meet individual research needs.

Swatch Unit
Swatch Unit

Swatch Testing Units 1 & 2
The purpose of the Swatch system is to screen and evaluate the performance of flat sheet membranes under abnormal operating conditions. This system includes a total of two independent skids, each with a separate feed tank, high pressure positive displacement pump, flow meters, pressure transducers, pressure regulator, and a range of analytical instruments. Each swatch system consists of three test cells, each with three square inches of membrane area, operating in series. The swatch high-pressure positive displacement feed pumps are operated with variable speed drives to enable operation over a wide flow range of 1 to 2 gallons per minute and a pressure range of 60 to 500 psi.

Membrane Test Apparatus
Membrane Test Apparatus

Membrane Test Apparatus (MTA)
The purpose of the Membrane Test Apparatus is to screen and evaluate the performance of spiral wound membranes under normal and abnormal operating conditions. The MTA is a skid mount system with a feed tank, high pressure positive displacement pump, flow meters, pressure transducers, pressure regulator, and a range of analytical instruments. The MTA consists of a single 2-1/2 inch membrane vessel with a single membrane element. The MTA high-pressure positive displacement feed pumps are operated with variable speed drives to enable operation over a wide flow range of 2 to 4 gallons per minute and a pressure range of 60 to 500 psi.

Membrane Evaluation Apparatus
Membrane Evaluation Apparatus

Membrane Evaluation Apparatus (MEA)
The purpose of the Membrane Evaluation Apparatus (MEA) is to simultaneously screen and evaluate the performance of multiple spiral wound membranes under normal and abnormal operating conditions. The MEA is a skid mount system with two high pressure positive centrifugal pumps, feed isolation valves, concentrate flow control valves, sample valves, concentrate and permeate rotameters, pressure and pressure differential transducers, back pressure regulators and sample collection tray. The MEA is capable of simultaneously operating eight (2 x 9 inch) custom made membrane vessels, supplied in a K25TS housing and containing approximately 1.7 square feet of membrane area. The MEA is designed to receive two separate water sources for each set of four membranes. Each membrane can be isolated and the feed pressures and recoveries may be independently set. The two MEA high-pressure centrifugal feed pumps each operate over a wide flow range of 2 to 7 gallons per minute with a pressure range of 60 to 600 psi.

Screening Units

Element Test Apparatus
Element Test Apparatus

Element Test Apparatus 1, 2, and 3 are pilot-scale screening units fully instrumented and electronically controlled to test membrane elements of two different diameters: 2.5" and 4". These units are used to test processes after they have succeeded at the swatch level, and before they are taken to pilot-scale, full-recovery systems.

Element Screening Unit
Element Screening Unit

The Element Screening Unit is a pilot-scale screening unit designed to simulate the lead elements of a full recovery reverse osmosis or nanofiltration system. In addition, the element screening unit can simulate full-recovery systems by operating with recycle of the concentrate. This unit uses 2.5" diameter elements.


Full Recovery, Mobile Unit

Membrane Evaluation Research Unit 5
Membrane Evaluation Research Unit 5

Membrane Evaluation Research Unit (MERU) 5 is a pilot scale, full recovery, mobile testing unit that uses 4" diameter membrane elements. This fully instrumented and electronically controlled unit can be used for high-recovery testing after demonstrating a process at the screening level, and before testing it on a demonstration scale system.

For more information about the Research Facilities at the Water Quality Improvement Center, contact Angela Adams, Desalting Group, through email or by phone at 928-343-8114.

 

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Date last updated: 7/27/12 9:59 AM