Chemical Cleaning of Flat Sheet Membranes: Time and Precautions

Flat sheet membranes play an indispensable role in the sewage treatment industry. Recognized for their efficiency, they still require regular maintenance due to the challenges posed by water quality. A central aspect of this maintenance is chemical cleaning. Dive deep as we unravel the intricacies of chemical cleaning, detailing the timeframes and critical precautions to consider.

Chemical Cleaning of Flat Sheet Membranes

When is Chemical Cleaning of Flat Sheet Membranes Necessary?

Flat Sheet Membrane Bio-Reactor (MBR) membranes are susceptible to fouling, leading to increased transmembrane pressure. Recognizing when to execute chemical cleaning can significantly enhance membrane longevity and performance. Here are the markers:

1. Scheduled Cleaning Intervals

  • Every 6 months or when the pressure difference, at a consistent filtration flow rate, shoots up by 5kPa from its initial operation.

2. Rapid Pressure Increase

  • Whenever there’s a swift rise in transmembrane pressure, it’s a signal to initiate chemical cleaning promptly. Acting early can more efficiently reinstate membrane functionality.

3. Customized Cleaning Schedules

  • If the pressure difference breaches the 5kPa mark within 6 months, recalibrate the operating period. This adjustment can help derive an optimized chemical cleaning cycle, extending the flat sheet membrane’s life.
chemical cleaning process of flat sheet membranes

Key Precautions During Chemical Cleaning of Flat Sheet Membranes

Ensuring the effectiveness of chemical cleaning while safeguarding the flat sheet membrane’s integrity necessitates observing several precautions:

1. Gravity Dosing

  • Always rely on the gravity method for dosing. Ensure the pressure remains under 10kPa. Avoid using a dosing pump directly, as it might exert excessive pressure, risking membrane damage.

2. Submersion Checks

  • Before dosing, double-check that the membrane module is entirely underwater. A minimum of 300mm from the water surface to the top of the module is crucial for safety.

3. Temperature Considerations

  • Warmer cleaning solutions yield better results. However, the temperature must never cross 40°C. Conversely, colder temperatures compromise cleaning effectiveness and might not fully restore the membrane. Aim for the highest possible temperature, but cap it at 40°C.

4. Post-Cleaning Protocol

  • Post chemical cleaning, residues of the solution linger in the membrane and the water pipes. During the initial restarts (at least the first two), redirect the filtered water back to the original pool. Ensure adherence to relevant standards to manage the waste liquid until no remnants of the cleaning solution remain.


Chemical cleaning of flat sheet membranes is a quintessential aspect of sewage treatment, ensuring the longevity and functionality of the membranes. Users can achieve optimal membrane performance and superior water quality by recognizing the right cleaning timeframes and adhering to critical precautions. Tailoring cleaning methods to specific situations is pivotal for lasting success in water treatment.


How often should I clean my flat sheet membranes?

Typically, every 6 months. However, cleaning becomes essential if there’s a 5kPa pressure increase from the original operation before this period.

Why is the temperature of the cleaning solution crucial?

A warmer cleaning solution, close to but below 40°C, offers a more effective cleaning. However, if the temperature is too low, it can reduce cleaning efficiency.

What happens if the membrane module isn’t fully submerged during dosing?

An improperly submerged membrane can risk uneven or incomplete cleaning, possibly causing damage. Ensure a water depth at least 300mm above the module for optimal results.

How should I manage the water immediately after chemical cleaning?

Return the initial batches of filtered water (post-cleaning) to the source pool. This step ensures any residue from the cleaning solution doesn’t enter the main water system.

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