Difference Between Ultrafiltration Membrane and Reverse Osmosis Membrane

Ultrafiltration membranes and reverse osmosis membranes are both membrane filtration products that use the principle of membrane separation and are mainly used in the field of water treatment. Many users with water treatment need to use these two types of membrane products, and they are used in various industries. Although UF membranes and RO membranes are used in the field of water treatment, there are still many distinctions between the two.

Figure 1 UF and RO Membranes

Ultrafiltration Membrane and Reverse Osmosis Membrane

There are significant differences between ultrafiltration membranes and reverse osmosis membranes, including but not limited to the difference in molecular weight cutoff, the difference in inlet water conditions, the difference in application fields, the difference in water quality of the product water, and the difference in price. The specific explanations for these differences are as follows:

1. Molecular Weight Cutoff

The molecular weight cutoff for ultrafiltration membranes is >10,000, making it possible to remove biological membranes, proteins, and large molecular substances, allowing inorganic salts, small molecular substances, and water to pass through. From the difference in molecular weight cutoff, it can be seen that the filtration accuracy of reverse osmosis membranes is much higher than that of ultrafiltration membranes.

Figure 2 Water impurities removed

2. Inlet Water Conditions

Generally speaking, ultrafiltration membranes require lower water turbidity than reverse osmosis membranes, and there is not much difference in inlet water temperature and pH. Ultrafiltration membranes have lower requirements for various biochemical indicators of inlet water than reverse osmosis membranes, so ultrafiltration membranes can tolerate poorer quality inlet water.

3. Application Fields

Although both ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis membranes use membrane separation principles for operation, the differences in filtration accuracy, system design, structural characteristics, and many other factors make them significantly different in application fields.

Reverse osmosis membranes are mainly used in the desalination of brackish water, preparation of pure water, special separation, and other fields, while ultrafiltration membranes are mainly used in sewage treatment, pre-treatment of pure water preparation, and production of drinking water.

4. Product Water Quality

The filtration accuracy of reverse osmosis membranes is higher than that of ultrafiltration membranes, and the inlet water quality is better than that of ultrafiltration membranes. The product water quality of reverse osmosis membranes is better than that of ultrafiltration membranes since it has fewer impurities and is cleaner.

5. Price

Both ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis membranes have many types of products, generally speaking, reverse osmosis membranes are more expensive than ultrafiltration membranes.

While both ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis membranes are used to filter out impurities, they are very different processes. Materials, system design, membrane component structure, molecular weight cutoff, inlet water conditions, and product water quality are just some of the ways in which these systems vary from one another.

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