Conwed in feed spacer study

Plastic netting maker, Conwed, has provided its products for a study into options for developing and testing of feed spacers in reverse osmosis (RO) by numerical modelling, three- dimensional (3D) printing of feed spacers and experimental membrane fouling simulator studies.

For the study, published in Water Research, Conwed has collaborated with industry researchers and professionals to expand knowledge about RO feed spacers and their impact on biofouling, membrane damage and pressure drop.

Conwed said the increasing global shortage of water was fuelling expansion in the desalination industry and in response desalination material suppliers, including Conwed, were investing heavily into identifying ways to improve water desalination systems. Conwed claimed it led the way the use of 3D printed feed spacers, experimenting with new technologies and alternatives to manufacture feed spacers in small-scale settings.

“Our R&D and engineering teams have explored 3D technologies for a few years now. We pioneered the use of 3D technology in feed spacers to test new geometries and designs because we knew it would be an alternative to speed up the process from design creation to actual performance testing replicating live conditions in real RO systems,” said Conwed strategic marketing manager, Ivan Soltero, Sr.

The work enabled Conwed to accelerate its testing and trials of new designs and configurations that imitated real conditions from actual water desalination facilities, the company said.

The study “Development and characterization of 3D-printed feed spacers for spiral wound membrane systems” compared 3D printed and commercial feed spacers with identical and different geometries.

In earlier studies Conwed said it had observed performance differences arising when they varied feed spacer thickness and angles as well as chemical formulations. The latest joint research covered numerical modelling, hydraulics and biofouling.

The researchers said numerical modelling of feed spacers and exploratory testing of 3D printed feed spacers were a promising paths for developing feed spacers to reduce biofilm formation and improve the cleanability of spiral-wound nanofiltration and RO membranes.