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Old October 21st, 2013, 12:28 PM
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Default Build your own RO

Hello,
I'm getting ready to build my own RO. I'm hoping to get about 250 gal/hr with a 50/50 split (so I'd get 125 gallons of water to the drain and 125 gallons of concentrated sap an hour).

I had a few questions I was hoping for your collective wisdom on :)

1. Why is everybody's RO membranes in a vertical position? It seems to me that plumbing them would be easier in horizontal, and I want to be able to move this around, so having the most expensive part of the unit sticking up in the air seems a bad idea. Is it just to save on footprint? Is there any technical reason why membranes need to be vertical?

2. I'm planning a small re-circulation line from the concentrate back to the bottom of the RO, with a needle valve to control flow. Any ideas about how much flow I should recirculate? I know that some re-circulation is good for keeping the membranes clear.

3. Any advice/thoughts on series (sending the concentrate from the first membrane into the in port on the second membrane) vs. parallel (putting a T in and sending the raw sap to both membranes and then combining concentrate into a single line. Not sure how others have done this. I'm planning two membranes (XLE 4040's) to get the flow I want.

4. Any general words of wisdom? I KNOW I could just buy one for only slightly more than I can buy all the parts, but I really do want to give it a go myself :)

Thanks for your advice.
--Josh
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Old October 21st, 2013, 05:01 PM
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First welcome to the site jstamp Second I see plenty of RO's that have the membranes horizontal so it looks as though it can be done.
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Old October 21st, 2013, 06:45 PM
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Josh, I see your in the Croghan area, where are you located? If you have questions you have come to the right place and welcome aboard.

Sugarsand
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Old October 21st, 2013, 07:22 PM
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Vertical vs. Horizontal. I built mine horizontal.... but I don't see that there is any real difference.

If you are going to try for a 50/50 split I would not bother with a recirc system.

Just go parallel it is much easier to put together.
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Old October 21st, 2013, 10:57 PM
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jstamp I also have a tower that has the pump in the bottom so I would surmise that if your membrane is a stand alone unit without a pump in it that could be why.
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Old October 21st, 2013, 11:40 PM
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Taplin, how did you plumb your 3 post machine? Can't quite tell from the pics, do you just "T'" all 3 permeate lines and concentrate line together after the separate flow meters?
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Old October 22nd, 2013, 07:58 AM
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yes.

If I built another one, I would do them horizontal, but instead of across the top, I would do like a gunrack and stack them in the back.
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Old October 22nd, 2013, 08:29 AM
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Default Thanks, and one more question

OK- first, THANKS! You all are being very generous with your knowledge, and I appreciate it.

Here's what I've gleaned:
1- Horizontal is fine
2- Plumb in parallel (which seems easier anyway)

Anyone else with thoughts on the recirculation- I like the idea of just skipping it (keep it simple) but don't want to end up redoing my unit halfway through the first big run. Seems like it might be fairly inexpensive to just add a line (shouldn't even need to deal with high pressure if I'm after the needle valve and go in before the HP pump...) but if its really unneccessary I'm OK doing less work.

I ran into another question. I heard that a lot of people use the high pressure pumps made for pressure washers to feed their membranes. However, none of these pumps are "potable" and of course the sellers won't say that they're OK for such a use. I don't really know what goes on inside these pumps (I just put low pressure in and get high pressure out!). Is there a danger of contaminating the sap? Something in the way it operates that's going to mess me up? Or are they just worried about cleaning, draining, and water sitting around... anybody know how this works enough to explain why they're not OK for potable? I read somewhere that you can drain out the petroleum oil and use a food grade mineral oil to eliminate any problems... but that also sounds risky. Any insight would be appreciated.
Here's what I'm sort of looking at: NorthStar Easy Bolt-On Pressure Washer Pump — 3.5 GPM, 4000 PSI, Belt Drive, Model# A1572041 | Pressure Washer Pumps| Northern Tool + Equipment

Thanks again!
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Old October 22nd, 2013, 08:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarsand View Post
Josh, I see your in the Croghan area, where are you located? If you have questions you have come to the right place and welcome aboard.

Sugarsand
Sugarsand-
I live in the Kirschnerville area. Just built a house on the Croghan Res. Road. The sugarbush I run with my father in law is in New Bremen area- we bought Ben Yousey's sugar bush last spring after running it with him for about 3 years. We've been boiling 1500 taps on a 4X12 and last year we found out we just couldn't keep up (we get about 125 gals an hour through the evaporator, and we'd end up with 1000 or 1500 gals sitting around at the end of a day of boiling. No good way to make nice syrup if its sitting for 3 days waiting to be boiled...)
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Old October 22nd, 2013, 03:24 PM
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Josh, I can sympathize with going to a bigger outfit, we did the same thing for the same reason. We were boiling on a 3x10 then moved up to a 4x12, we got done sooner but now we are expanding. We probably will add an RO in the next year or two.

Sugarsand
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4x12 raised flue/custom pans
500 taps, mostly roadside
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Lots of help from my wife, Pat and
Son, Pete
D&G filterpress
16x32 canner from 3rdgen
600 custom RO
2015 Mahindra 70hp
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