Avista Membrane Treatment Solutions

Avista Membrane Autopsy

A powerful troubleshooting tool to identify, prevent, and correct membrane performance issues.

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Every system is different, and so are its challenges.

A membrane autopsy allows us to identify issues and offer a customized solution.
Performance Issues
Potential Causes
Low Flow
Fouling, Mechanical Damage
High Flow
Chemical Damage, Physical Damage, Mechanical Damage
Poor Permeate Quality
Chemical Damage, Physical Damage, Mechanical Damage
Elevated Differential Pressure
Fouling, Mechanical Damage

Our approach is to:

Understand how the membrane's condition affects system operating parameters, including permeate flow, permeate quality, differential pressure, and energy consumption
Identify and understand the causes of performance deterioration

Our goal is to find solutions that:

Restore and optimize system performance
Prevent repeated issues

Avista Membrane Autopsy Process

  • Whole Element Performance Test
  • External and Internal Inspection
  • Foulant Analysis
  • Membrane Flat Sheet Performance Test
  • Membrane Flat Sheet Cleaning Study
  • Testing for Membrane Damage
  • Test Results are Summarized in a Final Report

Identify Foulant in Vivid Color

In the Chromatic Elemental Imaging SM (CEI) process, a beam of focused electrons is accelerated across the surface of a foulant sample, causing each element to emit electrons. The X-ray patterns emitted are specific to every element, enabling each one to be individually identified. CEI then assigns a color to each element and produces a three-dimensional, high-resolution image of the foulant sample. Element concentration is indicated by color intensity.

Follow us through the peaks and valleys of foulant in a 3D world. The contaminants, minerals, and impurities depositing during the reverse osmosis processes: What are they? How did they form? And most importantly, how can we remove and prevent them?

Solutions Aren't Always Black and White.
We Think In Color.

Vivid imagery revealed by CEI for membrane system troubleshooting. Browse our CEI gallery of site issues diagnosed and solved by identifying the primary fouling issues through a membrane autopsy.

A nanofiltration system experienced fouling after changing their water source from surface water to well water and wanted to determine the cause. Through Chromatic Elemental Imaging (CEI), it was determined that the foulant material had an underlying layer of iron oxide and iron phosphate beneath a layer of manganese and calcium. Additionally, colloidal sulfur particles were identified above both foulant layers. From this analysis, the system reevaluated its pretreatment and was able to clean the elements in their system.
Rapid fouling in the third stage of a reverse osmosis system was causing frequent system shutdowns and a loss in productivity. An element was removed for analysis and was coated with a black colored substance. CEI identified not only manganese, which is associated with black-colored foulant material, but an underlying layer of calcium sulfate, a flux-reducing scale. Particles of calcium and silica were also identified, randomly dispersed above the calcium sulfate layer. Based on these results, a sulfate-targeting antiscalant was put online, preventing fouling.
A reverse osmosis system using an untargeted antiscalant was experiencing fouling in their last stage, resulting in a lower-than-normal flow. CEI of the membrane surface revealed three distinct scales: silica, calcium carbonate, and calcium sulfate. Imaging also revealed that silica was present below the calcium carbonate and calcium sulfate layers. With this information, the system changed to an antiscalant that targeted both silica and calcium carbonate, and the fouling issue was resolved.
An engineering firm provided a sample harvested from a reverse osmosis element used for purifying leachate from a landfill for analysis. CEI of the sample identified a layer of barium sulfate across the entirety of the membrane surface. Additionally, a layer primarily composed of iron oxide and organics (high carbon) was also detected above the barium sulfate. Randomly dispersed colloidal silica was also present in the top layer of foulant material. Based on these results, it was determined that using a cleaner that targeted sulfates, all of the foulant material would be removed from the membrane surface, as the underlying foulant layer was composed of barium sulfate.
Water from a wastewater treatment facility was fed into an ultrafiltration module, followed by cartridge filters, and finally, to a reverse osmosis system. Suddenly, the cartridge filters began to rapidly foul, causing shutdowns. It was determined that an equipment failure had occurred in the ultrafiltration module, and the system wanted to ensure that no bypass from the cartridge filters had caused fouling of the reverse osmosis system. Analysis of the membrane determined that fouling had occurred. The foulant was identified as a combination of calcium phosphate, organics, silica, and diatoms (algae with silica shells). The failure in the ultrafiltration module was fixed, and the reverse osmosis elements were successfully cleaned.

Additional Resources

Avista Membrane Autopsy with CEI Brochure
The Avista Membrane Autopsy is one of the most powerful tools available to identify, prevent, and correct membrane performance issues to improve system maintenance and operation.

Request a system evaluation to determine how we can optimize your system.