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Characteristics and Advantages of LG Chem’s NanoH2O Anti-Fouling RO Membranes

Biofouling has long been recognized as one of the most problematic types of fouling for polyamide reverse osmosis (RO)
membranes. To avoid flux decline caused by biofouling, protective chemistry has been introduced to LG Chem’s NanoH2O
Anti-Fouling membranes.

Characteristics of LG Chem’s NanoH2O Anti-Fouling RO Membranes

Protective material with cross-linking properties was added into the functional groups of the polyamide surface layer which then
underwent a chemical reaction. The protective materials cross-link with themselves and with the reactive groups on the surface
of the polyamide membrane. The protective layer is attached to and built up on the membrane’s surface, thus making it part of
the active layer.

Figure 1. The above image depicts the construction of a typical spiral wound element.

Permanently bonded protective layer is resistant to chemical agents during the CIP process and it provides additional protection
against particular matters such as colloidal foulants. Furthermore, this cross-linked protective layer can help alter the membrane’s
surface roughness to create a smoother membrane surface and reduce fouling potential by preventing foulant adsorption and
attachment to the membrane’s surface.

Advantages of LG Chem’s NanoH2O Anti-Fouling RO Membranes

LG Chem has developed fouling-resistant membranes as part of its NanoH2OTM line of brackish water RO (BWRO) membranes.
A study was conducted to verify the anti-fouling properties of LG Chem’s membranes against organic and inorganic foulants.
LG Chem’s models LG BW R and LG BW AFR were tested under normal/standard operating conditions alongside two
competitor’s membranes. The feed water consisted of 2,000 ppm of NaCl and 100 ppm of NaHCO3, and the study was
performed under 225 psi at a temperature of 25 °C.

After initial membrane performance was stabilized, 50 ppm of skim milk (representing organic foulants) and 100 ppm of colloidal
silica (representing inorganic foulants) were added into the feed water. After running 24-30 hours with the aforementioned
foulants, a clean-in-place (CIP) was performed with all membranes. After the CIP, the membranes were re-tested under standard
operating conditions. The results from the study are shown below.

Figure 2. Permeate flux and NaCl rejection during organic fouling test using skim milk

The results show more consistent salt rejection of LG Chem’s LG BW AFR and LG BW R membranes during membrane fouling
and CIP tests when compared to the competitors. Additionally, when compared to the competitor’s membranes after the CIP,
LG Chem’s NanoH2O membranes recovered closer to the initial flux before the fouling test.

In comparing Figure 1 versus 2, the results also show that organic fouling provides more adverse impact to the membrane’s
performance compared to inorganic fouling. The CIP after organic fouling was not able to recover the membrane flux as well as
the CIP after inorganic fouling.

Figure 3. Permeate flux and NaCl rejection during inorganic fouling test using silica

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