Know When to Hold ‘em, Know When to Fold ‘em.  When is it time to replace the membranes?

Last Modified: Jan 16, 2014


  • Troy Walker - Hazen and Sawyer
  • Keith Craig - Veolia Water Australia
  • Peter Trimboli - Siemens Memcor

When is it time to replace the membranes?

It’s the big question that’s asked by every designer, operator and owner of every membrane plant in the world. When will a membrane need to be replaced? As a major investment, membrane life has a significant impact on the life cycle cost of a treatment facility. A key to optimum performance is striking the right balance between membrane life and good membrane performance.

In an attempt to apply lessons learned this paper explores results from several low pressure membrane case studies with more than ten years operating experience and reviews the timing and drivers for membrane replacement. It will review in detail key plant performance requirements and the corresponding membrane performance indicators including integrity, permeability and cleaning performance to identify when and why membranes were replaced. The paper will also include detailed operating data and provide comparisons between application for both surface water treatment and recycled water. A series of questions, such as those listed below, will be addressed:

1. Membrane warranties appear to provide some guide, but how does the warranted life match real life experience?

2. What are the drivers for replacement, and how does this differ from plant to plant?

3. Are membranes replaced due to cost of cleaning, increased energy consumption, increased maintenance costs or a combination of all those factors?

For more information, please contact the author at

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