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Uses of Membranes

7/12/2012 3:31:17 PM | by Anonymous


Membranes are used for several applications in the industry or for scientific research. In the industry, membrane is commonly referred to a thin, film like structure that has the ability to separate two fluids from one another. It has pores that can be made to specific sizes to allow certain matter to pass through and filter the rest out. Basically it acts as a selective barrier that is impermeable to specific unwanted particles, molecules or substances. The fluid is forced to pass through the membrane in regular applications. For some cases a membrane may only act as a separating structure instead of a selective barrier. The wanted components are allowed by the membrane to pass through into the permeate stream while the unwanted molecules are accumulated on the other side of the membrane.


As mentioned earlier, the pores of the membrane can be altered to suit the filtration process. The thickness of the membrane can also be varied for more effective filtering. To better facilitate filtering, the membrane can be given a charge opposite to that of the fluid or particles being filtered. This would cause the unwanted particles to be easily separated from the wanted fluid and ease effective filtration. The purpose for carrying out filtration can be to purify the fluid and obtain a specific desired fluid. The application of this filtration method can be commonly found in the treatment of wastewater to purify it for drinking or other purposes and even filtering milk for cheese production. Whatever the purpose for the process may be, its main goal is to obtain a filtered solvent and there are several types of systems that companies who specialize in filtration products make use of.


Some examples of membrane filtration techniques can be nanofiltration, ultrafiltration or reverse osmosis. Despite making use of different techniques, each of these technique has one thing in common; membranes. The sizes of the pores in these membranes are carefully calculated and vary across the various filtration techniques. One problem that these industries constantly face is the clogging that occurs on the outer side of the membrane where the unwanted particles accumulate. As they are not able to pass through the membrane, these particles continue to accumulate on one side of the membrane. Therefore, because of this clogging up, the system must provide easy access for cleaning of the membrane and maintenance to keep the system in good working condition.


Most of these types of systems are commonly used in industries where huge amounts of liquids have to be filtered at a fast rate. Because of these requirements, such plants usually have several filtration units that can filter great amounts of fluids at one time. One major advantage that these systems offer is the fact that they do not require the use of any chemicals or additives to be able to filter the liquid. They also do not require large amounts of energy to be able to do the job. A pressurized system can take advantage of gravity to force the solvent through the membrane. This helps companies to cut down on operational costs as they would not be required to pay for system to function. The system would be able to make use of gravity to filter the solvent out of the fluid at a steady rate without using any power or energy.


There is also successive membrane filtration by which a fluid is made to pass through a series of membranes. The pores in the membranes also get smaller in size as the fluid passes through the layers of membranes. This is to ensure that only the desired solvent is filtered out from the unwanted fluid. This method is highly effective and efficient. Clogging of the membrane is also reduced as the fluid would have been filtered several times. Industrial food handling industries, medicine industry, laboratory science and waste management all make use of membranes filtration systems. Cheap and effective methods for filtration, they are a good alternative for industries, despite the fact that they have to be maintained regularly.

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