Private wells, which are not federally regulated, can pose significant health risks to consumers when not tested frequently. Additionally, although public water supplies are typically disinfected by municipalities to help safeguard against potential risks, harmful contaminants and bacteria can still seep into these water sources. Private and public water consumers must regularly test and treat their water sources to help ensure their water is safe for consumption.
Several different filtration technologies are available within the residential and light commercial market, such as reverse osmosis (RO), nanofiltration (NF), microfiltration (MF) and ultrafiltration (UF). In a previous issue of Water Technology we discussed MF, which also included the filtration spectrum chart to help customers understand the different levels of membrane filtration available in the market. You can find that article at https://www.watertechonline.com/ext/resources/mag-pdf/MF-feature.pdf. For the purpose of this article, we will take a closer look at UF.
UF has been used to treat water for waterborne pathogens for many years. “UF can be simply defined as a process where pressurized raw water is forced through a membrane with very small pores and particles larger than 0.01 microns are separated from water,” states Jeremiah Jesse, a sales representative for Hankscraft H2O Products, adding that some UF systems use a hollow fiber membrane that employs an ‘”inside-out” process. This process allows water to flow into the hollow fiber’s center and filter out the pathogens as the water “permeates through the membrane.”
UF is especially useful, Jesse continues, to help protect elderly and young consumers, as well as people with compromised immune systems that may be more susceptible to harmful pathogens in drinking water.
UF systems are commonly compared to RO, creating a few general misconceptions between the two filtration technologies. Dealers should “debunk” these false comparisons when educating prospects and customers on filtration solutions.
One common misconception of UF, says Jesse, is that it creates wastewater similar to an RO system, which is false. UF does not generate wastewater, he continues. Discrediting this misconception can be a key benefit for many communities and homes where excessive water consumption is monitored or of particular concern.
The other popular misconception, according to Jesse, is that UF systems, like RO, will soften water or remove hardness and alter the taste of the water; this is also inaccurate. However, both filtration technologies do have one crucial factor in common: Pretreatment.
Pretreatment is a vital step in ensuring optimal performance and longevity of UF systems. “It is important to remember that there are many contaminants that can affect the operation of a UF system — excessive hardness, ferrous iron, turbidity and silt are the most common undesirable constituents of water,” reports Jesse, explaining that dealers must inform consumers on the importance of testing the water and understanding what is in the water supply when considering a UF system.
Selecting the right UF system
Like with any water treatment product and service, choosing those that have been properly certified helps to ensure the system is running as efficiently and effectively as possible and warrants a happy end user, while instilling a level of trust between the dealer and customer. Jesse recommends systems that have achieved such certification from NSF and WQA.
“We also strongly recommend that all of our customers check local and state regulations and codes to ensure systems meet and are installed according to those code requirements,” inserts Jesse.
Factors such as certifications, regulations and advancements in technology are causing the water treatment industry to continuously evolve. More and more products and services are being improved upon and developed. For UF, manufacturers are constantly looking toward innovative ways to advance membrane productivity. “The design and materials used to make UF membranes are constantly being improved,” reports Jesse. “These improvements in materials provide a longer lasting membrane that resists against fouling and possibly most important, makes them more economical and efficient.”
More efficient membranes are not the only improvement when it comes to UF systems. Jesse notes, “New trends in UF systems include additional stages like ultraviolet disinfection, kinetic degradation fluxion media (KDF) and particle bonded media (PBM) modules, which improve the process and help to ensure the consumer the very best drinking water possible.”