Testing for Better System Efficiency. (full
By Heather Rekalske, Technical Writer, Myron L Company
Water quality testing is not only vital to the design of an efficient, cost-effective RO system, it is also one of the best ways to preserve system life and performance.
And with the right instruments, it’s easy to do. Myron L Company manufactures innovative high quality portable meters and cost-effective monitor/controllers designed to simplify the management of those parameters most critical in screening, treatment, and distribution.
Using an accurate Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) measurement to correctly assess the system load prevents costly mistakes up front. The TDS measurement gives users the information they need to determine whether or not pretreatment is required and the type of membrane/s to select. Myron L Ultrameter™ and ULTRAPEN PT1™ Series TDS instruments feature the unique ability to select from 3 industry standard solution models: Myron L 442 Natural Water™ NaCl; and KCl. Choosing the model that most closely matches the characteristics of the source water yields measurements accurate enough to check and calibrate TDS monitor/controllers that alert to system failures, reducing downtime and increasing productivity. The same instruments provide a fast and accurate test for permeate TDS quality control. Measuring concentrate values, as well, and analyzing quality trends lets users accurately determine membrane usage according to the manufacturer’s specifications so tthey can budget consumption correctly. These daily measurements are invaluable in detecting problems with system performance where changes in the ionic concentration of post-filtration streams can indicate scaling or fouling. System maintenance is generally indicated if there is either a 10-15% drop in performance or permeate quality as measured by TDS.
Membranes such as thin-film composite membranes degrade when exposed to chlorine. In systems where chlorine is used for microbiological control, the chlorine is usually removed by carbon adsorption or sodium bisulfite addition before membrane filtration. The presence of any chlorine in such systems will at best reduce the life of the membrane, thus, a target of 0 ppm free chlorine in the feedwater is desirable.
ORP gives the operator the total picture of all chemicals in solution that have oxidizing or reducing potential including chlorine, bromine, chloramines, chlorine dioxide, peracetic acid, iodine, ozone, etc. However, ORP can be used to monitor and control free chlorine in systems where chlorine is the only sanitizer used. ORP over +300 mV is generally considered undesirable for membranes. Check manufacturer’s specifications for tolerable ORP levels.
An inline ORP monitor/controller placed ahead of the RO unit to automatically monitor for trends and breakthroughs coupled with spot checks by a portable instrument will prevent equipment damage and failure. Myron L 720 Series II™ ORP monitor/controllers can be configured with bleed and feed switches as well as visible and audible alarms.
Myron L Ultrameter and ULTRAPEN PT3™ and PT4™ portable handhelds are designed for fast field testing and are accurate enough to calibrate monitor/controllers. Myron L measurement methods are objective and have superior accuracy and convenience when compared to colorimetric methods where determination of equivalence points is subjective and can be skewed by colored or turbid solutions.
Monitoring pH of the source water will allow users to make adjustments that optimize the performance of antiscalants, corrosion inhibitors and anti-foulants. Using a 720 II Series Monitor/controller to maintain pH along with an Ultrameter Series or ULTRAPEN PT2™ handheld to spot check pH values will reduce consumption of costly chemicals and ensure their efficacy.
Most antiscalants used in chemical system maintenance specify a Langelier Saturation Index maximum value. Some chemical manufacturers and control systems develop their own proprietary methods for determining a saturation index based on solubility constants in a defined system. However, LSI is still used as the predominant scaling indicator because calcium carbonate is present in most water. Using a portable Ultrameter III 9PTKA™ provides a simple method for determining LSI to ensure the chemical matches the application.
The 9PTKA computes LSI from independent titrations of alkalinity and hardness along with electrometric measurements of pH and temperature. Using the 9PTKA LSI calculator, alterations to the water chemistry can be determined to achieve the desired LSI. Usually, pH is the most practical adjustment. If above 7, acid additions are made to achieve the pH value in the target LSI. Injections are made well ahead of the RO unit to ensure proper mixing and avoid pH hotspots. A Myron L 720 Series II pH Monitor/controller will automatically detect and divert solution with pH outside the range of tolerance for the RO unit. ULTRAPEN PT2, TechPro II™ and Ultrameter Series instruments can be used to spot check and calibrate the monitor/controller as part of routine maintenance and to ensure uniform mixing. Myron L handheld pH instruments are useful for monitoring pH during excursions, as well.
Water hardness values indicate whether or not ion exchange beds are required in pretreatment. Checking hardness values directly after the softening process with the 9PTKA ensures proper functioning and anticipates the regeneration schedule.
Alkalinity is not only important in its effect on the scaling tendency of solution, but on pH maintenance. Additions of lime are used to buffer pH during acid injection. Titrate ppm alkalinity values with a 9PTKA for fast field analysis where other instrumentation is too cumbersome to be practical.
Though testing and monitoring pressure is a good way to evaluate system requirements and performance over time, measuring other water quality parameters can help pinpoint problems when troubleshooting. For example, if the pressure differential increases over the second stage, the most likely cause is scaling by insoluble salts. This means that any degradation in performance is likely due to the dissolved solids in the feed. Using a 9PTKA to evaluate LSI and calculate parameter adjustments is a simple way to troubleshoot a costly problem.