Let's talk about lab water
Let's talk about lab water
We’ve become accustomed to the ever-changing technological world around us. We expect nothing less than the best power and performance. It’s a symptom of our times. I mean waiting for the internet to load a website is so 90’s right? Today we want it now and it better be good. So why should you settle for anything less in the lab? After all, quick turnaround times and high quality water are directly proportional to your experimental success.
If you want the best from your lab water purification system you’ll need to put in the time and effort, a bit like running a marathon. You can’t expect to last the whole race if you start off with a sprint. You need to make sure you put in the hours of training, maintain a strict diet, moderate your speed and in the end you shall emerge victorious and get that all-important shiny medal for your mantelpiece. Similarly, you’ll need to ensure that you maintain the filters and find a balance between the rate at which water is pushed through and the build-up of impurities on the other side.
Here’s our handy guide to coach you through the process and help your water purifier go the distance.
The front runners in the purification process are reverse osmosis (RO) and ion exchange (IX). In brief, RO works by feeding water and its impurities across a semi-permeable membrane; as water crosses the membrane, impurities get left behind. IX resins on the other hand work by swapping charged contaminants for H+ and OH- on the filter.
Knowledge is power they say, so here’s how to ensure you get your PhD (Perfect hydro Decontamination). All labs need water: some use a little, while others use a lot and it’s important to know where your needs fall in this spectrum. A large volume of water passing through the system can cause a large number of impurities to accumulate – rapidly! IX filters have a finite capacity, eventually filling up, while pushing RO membranes to the limit will cause precipitation otherwise known as scaling or fouling. Know your limits – purify responsibly.
Over time, IX filters may become so saturated that they actually begin to release unwanted contaminants into – what you believe to be – pure water, with disastrous consequences, too numerous to count, befalling your lab work. RO membranes may become blocked, reducing the amount of water that can pass through. We know you want to run your RO at full tilt (recovery), but it’s going to end in poorer water quality and a shorter membrane lifespan. You see, it’s all about tempering your thirst for power: don’t let your naivety get the better of you. Make sure you have an optimal purification procedure in place to ensure you (and your purifier) don’t get left behind in the dirt(y water).
Keeping it clean. It’s a dirty job, but hey, someone’s got to do it. Don’t worry, we know it’s always you! A regular maintenance regime could save you (and your fellow lab peeps) from the inevitable heartache of persistent failures at the bench. Not only that, it could improve the lifespan of your purification filters and membranes, reducing (although not removing!) the need for cleaning or pre-treatments, all of which add up in time and money.
It’s all about finding the perfect balance. Know how much pure lab water you require and how powerful your purifier will need to be in order to remove impurities to a satisfactory level for your experiments. Make sure your filter is capable of performing the job in hand. Monitor the maintenance of your system. Bearing all this in mind will ensure your water purification system goes the distance and your experiments cross the finish line.