Nanofiltration Systems

Nanofiltration is a type of membrane filtration system that works like others it’s related to. Namely, it separates inorganic and organic materials from a liquid, and that liquid is usually water. The membrane acts as a sieve of sorts. It is very similar to reverse osmosis in its process, but is not as efficient at filtering monovalent ions from the water. A typical system will remove half of the monovalent ions, but can be efficient enough to remove up to 90% of the ions. Its primary application is in food processing, specifically in the dairy industry. It is also used in chemical processing.

During the process, one side of the membrane has a higher pressure than the other, forcing the impure liquid on the high-pressure side to pass through. As it goes through the membrane, the particles too big to pass through are captured, leaving cleaner liquid on the other side. The openings in the membrane are about .001 microns, so the particles passing through must be very small. The liquid is most often water, and this water can be sent for more purifying, released into the public water supply, or packaged for retail. It all depends on what the liquid is, and how the liquid will be utilized. Since the water is still somewhat impure, nanofiltration is a good process for water softening, but not complete desalination. However, that can be achieved in conjunction with reverse osmosis.

In developing countries, clean water is hard to come by. Since nanofiltration is often used to separate impurities and organic material from water, in places such as these, it is an effective way to make relatively clean drinking water out of polluted, dirty water. It is highly effective and low in cost, making it appealing to areas without a lot of money. Individuals can use this process themselves. Campers and backpackers can use water filters at rivers and lakes to make drinking water. The system can also be used in homes as a water softener.

Nanofiltration has several practical applications. Its effectiveness, efficiency and low operation cost make it very attractive to developing countries without drinking water, and to people who want a cheap way to make drinking water out of impure water that may make them sick. While effective, it doesn’t go as far as making water completely pure. However, when used in conjunction with reverse osmosis, it can make just about any type of water potable.

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