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Membrane Separation Technology - Minimising Waste & Effluent

Membrane Separation Technology - Minimising Waste & Effluent

This excellent good practice guide looks at minimisation initiatives, specifically those "industrial-scale" membrane separation technologies that can be employed to help minimise industrial waste, wastewater and effluent.

Originally published by the Environmental Technology Best Practice Programme, this best practice guide focuses specifically on industrial-scale membrane separation technology.

These technologies are particularly effective for the recovery and re-use of both water and raw materials from process streams and can be an important component of any waste and effluent minimisation initiative.

Cost savings through waste reduction

Waste reduces a company's profitability, and many businesses are now altering their processes to minimise the impact of waste on their bottom line and on the environment. Annual cost savings of up to 1% of overall company turnover are proving to be typical results of waste minimization programmes.

There are technologies commercially available that can help businesses to do this. This guide explains the basic principles of one of them, membrane technology. It examines the technologies, explaining the basic principles of operation, discussing appropriate applications and assessing their relative advantages and disadvantages. It also offers guidance to membrane selection and gives specific Industry Examples of companies that have reduced costs by installing membrane separation.

Membrane systems

Membrane separation is mature technology that is commercially available in the UK from a number of equipment suppliers. The technology can be used to separate various mixtures of liquid materials in a growing range of applications. Units are generally compact, and their modular construction means that they can be scaled up or down easily.

There are three main types of membrane system commonly used in industry:

  • Ultrafiltration is widely used for: oil, water and emulsion separations; paint recovery; and the separation of fats, oils or greases in the food industry.
  • Reverse osmosis and nanofiltration are used extensively for water purification, desalination and disinfection.
  • Microfiltration is applied to maintain degreasing process solutions for metal particle recovery/removal or to concentrate other particulate materials from liquids or slurries.

Membrane separation

Correctly used membrane separation can provide financial savings and conserve resources. Maximum benefits are obtained when one or both the output streams from the membrane system are recycled or re-used, thereby reducing process materials requirement and minimising waste disposal costs.

The benefits of using membrane separations are only fully realised by selecting technology that is compatible with the application. This will involve consultation with technology suppliers, clear identification of the substances present in process streams, an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the membrane systems available and completion of a structured feasibility assessment.

Guide contents

  • Why minimise waste
  • Why install a membrane separation system
  • Membrane technology
  • How to select a membrane process
  • Ultrafiltration
  • Reverse osmosis and nanofiltration
  • Microfiltration
  • Other commercially available technologies... request a copy of the full document >>

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