Membrane Cost Modeling

Funding Agency: Texas Advanced Technology Program, USEPA, National Science Foundation

Principal Researchers: Sandeep Sethi, Karen Pickering

As emerging technologies, there are many unknowns regarding the cost-effectiveness of membrane processes such as ultrafiltration (UF) and nanofiltration (NF) for potable water treatment.

Uncertainty originates from the unknowns related to process performance and lack of design history. For example, the permeation rate that reasonably can be anticipated when treating a raw water using a given membrane has an enormous impact on the capital and operating costs that are estimated for a membrane installation.

We seek to understand the impact of membrane technologies on environmental quality control and process selection using cost models for membrane and conventional processes. For example, we have compared the cost of various UF and NF processes with the cost of conventional liquid/solid separation with and without GAC adsorption.

UF and NF cost calculations are based on data obtained from a 1-year pilot study of these processes on three different raw waters (performed by Jean Michel Laîné and Joe Jacangelo withe Montgomery-Watson). All of the membrane processes are calculated to produce comparable or lower total costs per unit volume treated compared with with conventional treatment. For small facilities (< 5 MGD) membrane filtration is calculated to be the least-cost treatment option for particle and/or organics removal.