A performance review of the reverse osmosis plant providing municipal potable water to Yulara revealed membranes were degrading quickly due to silica scale build-up.
Yulara in the Northern Territory is a major tourist town and community in central Australia. Municipal potable water is supplied by a 1.5MLD reverse osmosis plant, fed by a bore field with a high silica feed stream. MAK Water conducted a performance review of the plant and noted the reverse osmosis membranes were not lasting as long as would be expected and were hard to remove due to silica scale build-up. This indicated that the existing antiscalent used at the plant was failing to protect the membranes.
The recommendation was to change to a new antiscalent formulation that would prevent silica scale forming on the membranes, and thus increase membrane life. The MAK Water Product, S5, is formulated specifically for high silica feeds, and after three years operating on this new formulation the client has seen a radical improvement in plant performance, longer life in the membranes and lower maintenance costs.
MAK Water undertook a performance review of the plant logs, tuning “Clean in Place” (CIP) regimes and operating parameters, to meet the site’s requirements. Collaborating with the operators, MAK Water recommended changing the antiscalent to MAK S5 Antiscalent based on its ability to handle high silica feed water whilst not being classified as a dangerous good and therefore the site’s overall risk profile was not impacted. The normalisation data and salt passage were monitored to ensure the new dosing chemical provided the expected results. More suitable membranes were selected at the next membrane change and a design simulation prepared to ensure the right antiscalent and CIP regime was in place for the feed water conditions.
A close partnership approach between the client and MAK Water meant rapid results. The changes have resulted in a maximised membrane life with the membranes now lasting over 25% longer under normal operating conditions, thus providing a significant cost saving for the site. The solution has resulted in fewer CIPs, longer membrane life and less antiscalent usage, and therefore lowest total operating cost for the reverse osmosis plant.
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