This article was originally published in the Florida Water Reuse Journal.
The process of desalination with membrane technology was first used to make potable drinking water from seawater in the 1960s. Since then, membrane treatment has benefited from several technological advances in membrane process design. These advances have made membrane treatment a more affordable technology for many water utilities. This is of great importance, as diminishing water supply resources and increased regulatory limitations are leaving water utilities with a diminishing number of alternatives.
As alternative technologies are pilot tested for potable reuse, which focuses on the treatment of wastewater and reclaimed water to drinking water quality standards, one technology that has continuously proven to produce high quality purified water is membranes. Although their cost from both a capital and operational standpoint has steered utilities to investigate other alternative technologies, their persistent trend in water reuse—in not only one, but in two technologies in the multiple-barrier treatment approach—proves that their resiliency for treatment of adverse water sources will continue to provide solutions for water utilities seeking alternative water supplies. This will only continue to increase the economic viability for membrane treatment as the demand for robust treatment increases.
Jennifer and James discuss three representative case studies displaying a variety of membrane technologies that have been applied in potable reuse demonstration studies in Florida and their performance against constantly varying reclaimed water quality. These membrane technologies include ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis, and nanofiltration membranes in a variety of different application types—submerged, pressurized, gaseous hollow-fiber, low pressure, and high pressure.