Advancing Membrane Diagnostics Through Chromatic Elemental Imaging℠ (CEI℠) - Avista Membrane Treatment Solutions
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January 25, 2024

Advancing Membrane Diagnostics Through Chromatic Elemental Imaging℠ (CEI℠)

Traditional membrane foulant troubleshooting methods face significant limitations, including reliance on morphology analysis with limited insights into element composition and distribution. They often struggle to accurately identify elements and lack information on the spatial distribution of foulants, hindering the development of targeted cleaning protocols. Additionally, traditional methods may not reveal the fouling sequence, leading to generic cleaning approaches and reactive maintenance practices. The historical context of membrane operation is often incomplete, and delayed detection of scaling issues is a common challenge. These limitations underscore the need for advanced techniques like Chromatic Elemental Imaging℠ (CEI℠) to provide more detailed and proactive solutions for membrane troubleshooting and maintenance. 

From Black and White to Color: Chromatic Elemental Imaging (CEI) 

Avista Chromatic Elemental Imaging (CEI) is a high-resolution imaging technique to identify membrane foulant. In traditional imaging and composition analysis, the morphology of the foulant material and the relative weight percentages of elements was the only data available. CEI has surpassed these limitations by providing information on the special distribution of elements in the foulant, providing insights into how they form layered compounds.  

Traditional Imaging (Black & White) Vs. CEI (Vivid Color)

CEI provides a full history of the membrane in operation, which allows Avista to provide a tailored cleaning regimen which targets the specific type of foulants while considering when they were deposited on the membrane surface. This permits for the removal of foulants from the top down, offering the optimal solution to restore systems to baseline performance and increase time between cleanings. This allows operators to establish a process which prevents scaling from the bottom up, stopping fouling before it starts for stable system performance. The adoption of CEI marked a paradigm shift, enabling precise identification and concentration analysis of elements in foulant samples during membrane autopsies. 

CEI as a Troubleshooting Enhancement for Avista Membrane Autopsies 

Originating as a response to the limitations of traditional laboratory methods, CEI was developed as a troubleshooting tool to further enhance the data gathered from an Avista Membrane Autopsy. So, what is an Avista Membrane Autopsy and how does it work? The Avista™ Membrane Autopsy is a service to properly diagnoses a fouled membrane, even in the direst state. In this process, a membrane is sent to the Avista laboratory for testing and a physical dissection of the element is removed for foulant analysis. This procedure identifies precise scaling or fouling problems, determines the proper cleaning regimen, verifies system operating conditions and improves system performance.  

Avista Membrane Autopsy

In the 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. By analyzing the layers, it is possible to understand the fouling sequence. 

Avista Chromatic Elemental Imaging℠ (CEI℠)

Understanding the fouling sequence holds multiple advantages. It supports the development of targeted cleaning protocols so that operators can formulate effective cleaning procedures directed at specific foulants, ensuring prolonged membrane performance and operational life. A proactive approach reduces the frequency and intensity of cleaning procedures, lowering operational costs and downtime.  

Paving the Way for Advancements in Water Treatment Technology 

Beyond its role in foulant analysis, CEI has led to the introduction of innovative products and operational strategies. By providing a three-dimensional, high-resolution image of foulant samples, CEI has accelerated the formulation of new antiscalants, cleaners, and biocides by scientifically validating formulations, reducing reliance on trial and error. 

In the realm of membrane diagnostics, Chromatic Elemental Imaging (CEI) stands out as a revolutionary technology, transforming the understanding and management of membrane fouling. CEI unravels the mysteries of membrane fouling and holds the promise of revolutionizing water treatment processes.

Alisson Shoffner Senior Marketing Specialist

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