Understanding ‘CIP’ for Reverse Osmosis System Maintenance

Purchasing a reverse osmosis system for your business is quite an investment, so it is really important that you take good care of it and get it cleaned and maintained accordingly. It is recommended that a reverse osmosis system is cleaned using a Cleaning In Place (CIP) method, and indeed some suppliers include this in the initial purchase price.
Why though, does the machine need to be dealt with in situ and what exactly does the process involve?

What is the CIP Method?

The CIP involves the complete removal of foulants in the RO (reverse osmosis) membranes. Cleaning products are circulated around the elements in order to achieve the desired cleanliness.

First of all, an alkali is used in order to remove the organic compounds, after which an acid clean is undertaken so that inorganic compounds such as Calcium, Magnesium, Iron or Manganese are dealt with. Normally these two processes are adequate, but if at any point it is suspected that bacteria has got into the system and is causing fouling then a bactericide will also be used in a third stage clean.

Leave it to the Experts

The CIP process is something that you should never attempt unless you are a specialist or have been properly trained to undertake the service. Experts have the knowledge at their fingertips and will spot as soon as the cleaning solution needs changing. They will also be able to ascertain quickly when the process has finished and immediately know how effective it has been.

Some specialists will use a heated solution to improve the cleaning productivity. It can be really beneficial, although the person dealing with the product should not heat the solution too high, as this can cause membrane damage; again, leave this to the people in the know. Your service provider will also monitor the strength and condition of the chemicals used in the process just in case they need replacing or adding to.

The main benefit of employing an expert is that they will ensure that the time the reverse osmosis system is out of use is kept to a minimum; because this is a piece of kit that you don’t want out of action for too long!

When to Get a Reverse Osmosis System Clean

The general rule of thumb is that you should get your membranes dealt with when one or more of the following three things has occurred:

The normalized pressure drop increases 5-10% The normalized permeate flow drops > 10% The normalized salt passage increases 5-10%

Just as with any piece of mechanical equipment, regular maintenance of your reverse osmosis system is key to its longevity. You will get out of it what you put in, so stay on top of the cleaning and you and your kit can look forward to a long and uneventful partnership.

Author Plate Sean Clifford is an advisor at AllWater Technologies Ltd, a wholly independent company providing consultation and water treatment equipment, including a reverse osmosis system and effluent treatment plant. Bringing together a host of experience and specialist knowledge, the company is committed to building and maintaining long-term relationships and creating maximum value and benefit for their customers.

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