Although not intended to be exhaustive, here are some of the reasons that can affect the efficiency of your water treatment system.
The wrong components
Starting with the wrong choice of system, membranes, pumps or any other key components of a reverse osmosis system. Take the example of membranes, some of them have chemical resistance, others have a better retention rate for seawater treatment or even a better coliform treatment capacity. There are so many types of membranes that it is very difficult to list them all. However, using the wrong membrane for your situation will significantly affect the efficiency of your RO system.
Water parameters may not be as expected, or fluctuations in them may be experienced from time to time (e.g., seasonally). One of the factors that can greatly affect the efficiency of a reverse osmosis system is the water temperature. Indeed, if the feed water is colder than expected, the system will require more pressure to have the same permeate flow.
Wear and tear
Next comes membrane wear. When RO membranes are due for replacement, they are usually clogged with contaminants in the feed water. As the clogging increases, the pressure upstream of the membranes increases as the pressure required to allow water to pass through the membrane grows. This type of problem can also occur in the form of scaling in the system, which can cause more significant problems than just a decrease in permeate flow.
As mentioned above, there are several situations that can cause a Reverse Osmosis system to slow down its production. For situations where the membranes wear out too quickly or clog up faster than expected, a lack of preventive maintenance or proper monitoring can be a reason. For your information, proper monitoring generally consists of three key steps:
- Collecting operating data
- Evaluate the progress of the data over time
- Acting proactively to perform maintenance before performance exceeds allowable limits.
Finally, the last of the precursors that can affect your RO system's water production is the system's pretreatment. If your pretreatment system is less efficient than expected and the TDS or TSS concentration is higher than estimated, not only will your membranes wear out faster, but the permeate flow rate will be greatly affected.
This summarizes the aspects that can affect the treatment rate of your system. Obviously, other situations can occur, but knowing these will help you diagnose the most common situations.