Conwed Unveils Reverse Osmosis Series

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Conwed releases series of technical papers on reverse osmosis feed spacer development.

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Conwed, the leading plastic netting manufacturer in the world, unveiled its most recent effort to communicate feed spacer developments for reverse osmosis (RO) systems. Comprised of several technical papers covering the RO process, components and challenges, Conwed plans on periodically publishing relevant technical information that expands on the role of the feed spacer in reverse osmosis systems.

Conwed manufactures a full line of feed spacers used in RO spiral wound elements. An RO spiral wound element is a filter comprised of different layers. It contains membrane, feed spacer and permeate sheets rolled up around a product collection tube. The feed spacer provides the necessary gap between other layers to promote turbulence of the feed stream. Depending on the chemical and design configuration, feed spacers can influence membrane damage, biofouling and pressure drop; the three main challenges in reverse osmosis.

“In the RO industry, the feed spacer has probably been an afterthought or hidden behind the scenes, as most of the research and innovation came from membrane developers. Our mission is to explore the role of the feed spacer and understand how it can impact water desalination performance,” said Ivan Soltero, Strategic Marketing Manager at Conwed. “We understand the importance of RO in water desalination efforts worldwide and we believe the next wave of innovation could come from the feed spacer.”

Reverse osmosis is a water treatment technology widely used around the world. It accounts for more than half of the desalination capacity installed worldwide. RO systems face three main challenges: membrane damage, biofouling and pressure drop. Membrane damage could be simply explained as the harm made to the membrane during the rolling process of the spiral wound element. The pressure applied to roll the different material layers may cause damage to the membrane surface, which could impact the salt rejection levels once the filter is in operation. Biofouling is the accumulation of unwanted microorganisms and algae grow on the feed spacer or membrane surface. It could clog the membrane and feed spacer leaving less permeable area and increase flow resistance leading to potentially higher pressure drop results. Pressure drop is the loss of applied feed pressure and therefore a loss of efficiency in the RO system. Having the right feed spacer along with optimal membrane and permeate layers can determine the water turbulence and resistance in the filter. Finding the right balance is key to reduce pressure drop.

“We want to be proactive, tackle the RO challenges our customers face and set ourselves as the leading feed spacer developer worldwide. How could the next-generation feed spacer impact RO performance? We’re on a journey to find the best answer,” said Soltero.

The new Reverse Osmosis Series unveiled by Conwed is available at

Conwed is the leading plastic netting manufacturer in the world. Conwed manufactures extruded, oriented and knitted netting with unique customization capabilities. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Conwed has five manufacturing locations on two continents and a global distribution network.

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