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Old January 28th, 2012, 08:47 PM
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Default Running cost for small/homemade RO And RO for Dummies

Ignorance should be curable. I confess to being almost totally RO ignorant, and I'm having a hard time finding what I'd need to know before jumping off this cliff, if I did.

No idea if I'll get there, though some of the homebuilds seem to be trending towards "perhaps, someday I could conceive of affording one, especially if I find a deal on a pump." The commercial units, even the much mentioned Ray Gingrich feel way too rich for my blood.

Jake (chrisnjake) says he could probably build one without the dead ends for $1500 or less. Perhaps a good deal less at lower GPH (or is it concentration per pass one loses by using one cartridge rather than 2 or more?) I suppose that would be GPH one way or the other, and the pump costs far more than one membrane cartridge and holder, from his figures. But I'm probably going to be limited to 100-125 trees at maximum unless something unexpected occurs. I may not even get my proposed 25 in this year - we'll see. RO would be at least a couple of years out - but I'm trying to wrap my mind around the whole package, inclusive of running costs.

People talk (universally, or just with factory machines?) about sending membranes off for cleaning at the factory. The storage solution needs to be changed a few times (but if it's sodium metabisulphite, as I read in one data sheet, that's pretty cheap stuff as I know from brewing) The prefilters need to be changed. Do you normally get through a season with rinsing them, or do they need a wash cycle regularly in season, and if you are washing them, what's with sending them off to the factory? A better washing?

The membranes (at $$$) only last a few years? More based on time, or amount of sap, or what (assuming you don't screw up the pressures, I guess that's a big ugly that would kill them quick.)

Sort of looking for "small RO for dummies" with a heavy emphasis on "what's the total cost of ownership." Looking for $$$ insight on where the breakpoint for even considering one would be, .vs. the simplicity of boil more and don't worry about complex equipment that needs maintenance and replacement filters.

Undoing the "dummy" is complicated in part because a lot of the RO information is about making permeate as the primary goal "fresh water from salt water - whoo-hoo!" rather than on concentrating the feedstock.

I gather one needs tankage to hold permeate, primarily (if i get this right) for rinsing and/or washing the membrane. If washing one needs a separate tank to mix up the wash solution (lye, or lye then acid?) One needs tankage for raw sap and concentrate as well, though I guess it's also possible to recirculate into one tank and gradually concentrate it (presumably less efficient?).

Pressures are fairly high, which is where the pump cost comes from (as well as it being a food-quality pump) - high pressure is required for it to work at all, or makes it work better/faster, or ....?

When the season gets going, could I hop across the pass and visit you when yours is in action, Jake?
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Old January 29th, 2012, 08:17 PM
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I have a 1986 factory machine. Not like today's machines. 2 four inch membranes. I run a rinse every 4 hrs and run a wash on my membranes every night after using them. Then a rinse with as much permeate as I have. I bought a gallon of ro soap 2 years ago and still have some left. Get a way to measure ph accurately. Very important, too low won't clean membranes properly, too high can ruin them.

Do not concentrate with a prefilter that you used to wash. I put in a new filter each run and wash with it at the end of night.

I had membranes factory cleaned. Got them back mid summer so I did not worry about changing solution. One biggie of factory cleaning is you get flow reports to compare against new. Longevity of membranes has to do with how well you wash them, how hard you push them, not going to high with ph on wash. I run 450psi and concentrate to 11% in one pass. This machine has no separate recirculation pump but does recirculate with the pumps in it. I do not expect a lot of years out of a membrane because I feel that I abuse them. That is why I run xle's they are cheap. I have heard of people getting 10 years if treated very well.
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