Preparing water for industrial processing

Dec. 12, 2002
A novel membrane filtration system, first used to remove organic material from surface water used for drinking, is now preparing water for industrial processing. The Fyne Process was developed by PCI Membrane Systems of Milford, Ohio. PCI was selected to supply a Fyne system to produce potable-quality water for Schering Plough (Avondale) Company?s pharmaceutical manufacturing facility at Rathdrum, Co., Wicklow, Ireland. The first such plant to be installed in the Republic of Ireland, it replaces traditional water treatment, using tubular nanofiltration membranes to process 480 m3/day. The Fyne plant removes color and other trihalomethane precursors from organic-rich river water, thereby enabling the treated product to be used as process water in pharmaceutical manufacturing processes, and also as feedwater to a purified water generation system. The Fyne process uses nanofiltration to retain dissolved organic materials (mostly humic and fulvic acids) that, after chlorination, yield undesired disinfection by-products such as trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids. The membrane system also reduces levels of iron and other metals, along with waterborne pathogens, microbes and viruses. So far, North American application of the Fyne process is limited to small surface-derived drinking water systems in Canada and Alaska. There have been successful installation in First Nation communities in British Columbia and Nova Scotia, and the system was tested and verified under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Packaged Water Treatment Plant Verification Program at a site in Barrow, Alaska. Three other plants are being installed this year and next in remote Alaskan communities. Plants can be delivered in, and continue to operate in, a heated and ventilated container, complete with membrane wash tank, chlorine dosing and contact tanks, and water storage. Fyne tubular systems are designed to be robust. Their proven reliability, together with the ability to monitor operation through a remote dial-up connection, means low staffing levels are required. In addition, the plant has a small footprint that enables civil engineering work to be kept to a minimum. Moreover, the tubular membranes can be cleaned mechanically, using a foam ball technique, so both chemical consumption and discharge of waste are minimal. Membrane filtration systems, such as the Fyne process, are frequently being installed for water and wastewater applications because they provide cost effective solutions that minimize water use and waste-disposal costs.