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The decision to use generic or specialty membrane cleaners for cleaning membrane systems depends on various factors. Generic cleaning chemicals can be more cost-effective, readily available, and may work well for certain types of fouling. However, they may not be effective for all types of fouling and can sometimes cause additional problems such as membrane degradation or loss of performance. On the other hand, specialty membrane cleaners are designed specifically for certain types of fouling, can be more effective at removing them, and may cause less damage to the membrane system. However, they can be more expensive and may require more specialized knowledge to use properly. Ultimately, the decision to use generic or specialty membrane cleaners should be based on a thorough analysis of the specific membrane system, the type of fouling present, and the cost-benefit analysis of each option.

Typically, the decision to use generic cleaning chemicals or specialty membrane cleaners is based on raw material cost. However, it is important to consider what you may be sacrificing by not using specialty cleaners. In this article, we will examine the advantages and disadvantages of each type of cleaner, so that you can make an informed decision that is most suitable for your plant.

Membrane system cleaning is a routine aspect of plant operation, with cleaning frequencies ranging from weekly in extreme cases to intervals longer than five years.
Membrane manufacturers usually provide guidelines for cleaning their membranes, which typically involve using commercially available chemicals that are compatible with their products.
The membrane manufacturer provides a specific type and concentration of chemical to use for each scaling and fouling scenario. However, the challenge lies in identifying the type of scaling and fouling present in your plant. This is a limitation when using generic cleaners.
An informed decision on the type of cleaner to use must be made based on historical cleaning data and raw water data as generic cleaners cannot identify the specific scaling and fouling scenario in a plant. Specialty cleaners, on the other hand, are offered by chemical companies that specialize in membrane treatment, such as PWT, your current antiscalant supplier.

A reliable specialty chemical company should have the expertise to conduct membrane autopsies and cleaning studies to determine the type of scalant/foulant and the most suitable cleaning procedure. Identifying the specific scalant/foulant can help to make cleanings more effective and reduce the time needed to complete them.

Membranes represent about 10% of the initial cost and up to 25% of the operational cost of a membrane system. Premature replacement of the membranes is very expensive making effective and safe cleanings paramount. With generic cleaners, you must handle the individual chemicals in a safe manner and mix them in a precise ratio.

Exposing the membrane system to a cleaning solution with a pH too high or too low, may cause irreversible membrane damage. Specialty cleaners are buffered to achieve and maintain a target pH to avoid possible membrane damage.

Specialty cleaners are specifically formulated to be compatible with membrane systems and include various components such as dispersants to effectively remove contaminants from the membrane surface. Membrane cleaning is an essential aspect of maintaining the health of a membrane system, and whether you choose to use generic or specialty cleaners, you will ultimately need to use them. When it's time to clean your system, it's worth talking to your preferred specialty chemical supplier to see the cost and value they offer. Specialty cleaners can provide greater effectiveness, as well as improved safety during handling and pH buffering.