One of the most advanced methods of professional water filtration is the process of ultrafiltration, a highly technical procedure that utilizes various types of filters comprised of semi-permeable membranes. These membranes remove minute particles that are suspended within the water and can capture even smaller particles than are filtered out by microfiltration systems.
Modern Ultra Filtered Water Technology
The usefulness of ultra-filtered water has increased over the years, as more applications for this standard of water have emerged. Although water may be considered potable, for example, and purified with agents such as chlorine, it may still contain harmful organisms such as giardia that happen to be resistant to chlorine treatment. Ultrafiltration or UF technology is very effective at quantitatively removing these particles, so many municipal water treatment facilities, for example, rely upon UF treatment to guard against contamination from cryptosporidium, giardia, and other organisms that could cause serious illness if ingested.
Typical industries that are candidates for ultrafiltration include pharmaceutical manufacturing, electronics fabrication, and chemical sectors. These industries typically require that even minute impurities in the water be removed, so that products are consistently manufactured as highly purified products.
Ultrafiltration requires that the source water be first filtered using standard filtration equipment to remove larger suspended solids and offending constituents that can be easily removed by means of filters, screens, and filter beds. This pretreated water is then fed into the ultra-filtration system. Ultrafiltration relies upon special membrane filters in a large parallel arrangement.
Ultra-filtered water allows sensitive manufacturing to maintain extremely high levels of purity.
Using Ultrafiltration to Ensure System Performance
These same water treatment systems often depend on ultrafiltration and microfiltration for the effective removal of foreign particles that may also clog or foul the extremely small pores within reverse osmosis membranes. For the same reasons, for example, an ultrafiltration membrane may be used to minimize the density of silt in water, or as a preliminary step in a phased process of treating water that will late be run through another level of purification.
Other Commercial Applications for Ultrafiltering of Water
UF treatment is also highly valuable to private sector companies and industries, and ultrafiltering is used in many areas of the pharmaceutical and medical industry, for instance. Kidney dialysis is an area of health care that depends upon modern microfiltration and ultrafiltration equipment and technology, for instance. Ultrafiltration is also used in the biotech and semiconductor manufacturing industries. In the making of semiconductors, for example, even microscopic particles of contaminants can compromise the integrity and performance of the semiconductor wafers, so they must be created in an ultra-pure environment.
Standard metrics and guidelines for ultrafiltering of water are set by various governing bodies, agencies, and regulatory authorities. Purity standards for ultrapure water include those set by a number of organizations, such as the USP, ASTM, CAP, NCCLS, ANSI and AAMI.
The process of analyzing or certifying this unique and special grade of ultra-purified water involves scientific sampling, study, and analysis by trained researchers, engineers, and other experts. The goal of their scrutiny of water samples is to reveal any and all potential contaminants such as chemical additives, suspended solids, dissolved particles of contaminants, the presence of organic carbon, dissolved gases, or biological organisms such as pyrogens, bacteria, or viruses living within the water.