Reverse Osmosis is the most preferred means of water purification across the world. In India too, it accounts for most of the water purification plants, whether in the public sector or run privately. The reason for this is its remarkable effectiveness in cleaning water. It is even used in fairly inhospitable terrains to eke out drinking water.
However, the effectiveness of a reverse osmosis plant also depends on its operation and maintenance. Reverse osmosis plant suppliers specify these requirements clearly, mentioning the operational process as well as the maintenance schedule. Like any other machinery, regular maintenance ensures that the plant keeps working efficiently.
Reasons for RO plant malfunctioning
An RO plant uses reverse osmosis to remove organic, inorganic and chemical material from water, making it pure enough to drink. It uses a membrane to separate the water from its contaminants. There are many reasons for the failure of RO plants. Some of these are:
1. No treatment of feed water: The quality of feed water can make a critical difference in the working of an RO plant. Heavy contaminants can seriously damage the RO membrane. Even prolonged exposure to contaminants can eventually jam or damage the membrane. Typically this is countered by subjecting the feed water to pre-treatment. Granular activated carbon is used to segregate chlorine and organic matter.
2. Bacteria growth: One has to keep in mind that with constant water flow, we are dealing with a rich growth environment. As a result, RO systems often see heavy growth of bacteria. This is bacteria that are already present in the water. When the feed water is left untreated, the bacteria multiplies and thrives in the water. Untreated feed water that contains chlorine often ends up damaging the membrane. It can burn or tear the membrane making holes. These holes are also susceptible to bacteria growth.
3. Water flow: The RO technology depends on the water flow velocity. When this velocity is too low, water will not flow and remain stagnant. This stagnant water is ripe for bacteria growth.
4. Lack of disinfection: Although every reverse osmosis plant supplier stipulates that the unit be disinfected, many operators choose to ignore this directive. Either they completely ignore it or they do not do it as often as required. Lack of regular disinfection leads to bacteria build up that can be rectified only by completely shutting down the system. Ironically, this actually means more expense.
Benefits Of Regular Maintenance
1. Economical: Although maintenance costs may seem like an extra financial burden, it is actually an economical option in the long run. Regular maintenance ensures that all parts are in top working order and there are no sudden hitches. Without it, we will have a failure sooner or later and fixing or replacing a faulty part will ultimately be more expensive.
In fact, some failures are so severe that they can be corrected and checked only by shutting down the plant. This means loss of operational hours, special repair fee and other expenses.
2. Longevity: A well serviced plant will always have a longer life. Regular service will ensure that bacteria growth is avoided and the membrane remains in good shape. It also ensures that all parts remain in perfect working order. Together these factors add to the longevity of the plant, since you are ensured of a functional system for a long time.
3. Clean water: A plant that is monitored regularly will obviously work at top condition. In this case, it means that we will be ensured of clean drinking water. Without timely monitoring, we can easily miss dangerous signs like a torn membrane, which will pass contaminated water into the clarified stream.
Maintenance And Monitoring Of RO Plants
While regular maintenance is necessary, monitoring of the plant daily or every few days is also essential. Maintenance ensures that a plant keeps running at its optimum capacity, but monitoring is important to ensure any warning signs are spotted at the very beginning. Regular monitoring ensures that the water supply remains constant, any signs of fouling of the membrane is detected before it spreads and the quality of the water remains high.
The importance of regular monitoring and maintenance of a RO plant is obvious. Monitoring is usually carried out by plant operators, while maintenance work is often carried out by outside experts. One tip here is to find out if your reverse osmosis plant supplier also offers maintenance services.