Wisconsin Industrial Water Group

Meeting Client Needs: Today and Tomorrow

Ion Exchange vs. Membrane Processes

The remarkable market penetration of RO technology in the front end of water systems provides an
instructive recent example of the widespread replacement of Ion Exchange unit operations by more
efficient, continuous membrane processes. Early attempts to introduce RO for industrial use met with
reliability and performance problems, mainly associated with the high pressures required to achieve
reasonable fluxes, limited membrane life, poor pretreatment selection and the lack of operating
experience and guidelines.

Following this rather problematic initial introduction, viable RO technology, based on a new generation
of membranes and a better understanding of operating requirements, was eventually introduced in the
1980’s. The commercial introduction of RO then proceeded rapidly, so that today most new, and many
retrofit water systems employ RO instead of the traditional IX systems. Furthermore, by using specific
newly-developed membranes, RO technology has been successfully applied in other areas, including
large scale desalination. Thus, when technical performance and cost issues related to RO were
satisfactorily resolved, its widespread introduction took place in a remarkably short time.

Thomas Borcherding, President

Milwaukee Office

  • Wisconsin Industrial Water Group
    P.O.Box 99
    Slinger,WI 53086
    ph ( 414 )333-1807 fax(262)644-1574
    e-mail: [email protected]

Fox Valley Office

  • Wisconsin Industrial Water Group
    P.O.Box 1712
    ph ( 920 )420-8878.