Reverse Osmosis Systems - any info?

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Reverse Osmosis Systems - any info?

Postby Emily Oak on Sat Jun 28, 2008 2:02 am

I returned to work this week after a splash of time off to find that the kids there had decided to install a Reverse Osmosis system to feed water into our espresso machine. We're keen to conduct all sorts of whacky experiements, and considering my very non scientific mind is still trying to wrap itself around the whole concept this is a shout out to people who have tried them or have some more knowledge about pro's and con's and experiements we might try.

In particular interest this week is the argument about remineralisation of the water, i.e. with what substance(s) and how much is required for correct function of the boilers and probes and to what extent this will effect the taste of the espresso etc. (Broad question I know!)

Right now we've got the option to head in a number of directions, and I'm looking for any feedback, experience or guidance.
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Re: Reverse Osmosis Systems - any info?

Postby Robert Goble on Sat Jun 28, 2008 11:02 am

Emily - can you provide a little more info here. What (make and model) has been installed? There are lots of RO, and pseudo RO type systems on the market using all kinds of different technologies. Equally, are you using this in conjunction with any other water treatment or filtering system? Also do you have any lab data on your actual water (pre-treatment data). I'm assuming that this has been or is being done in conjunction with recommendation by your equipment manufacturer and or local water systems experts. What are they saying at this point?
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Re: Reverse Osmosis Systems - any info?

Postby Emily Oak on Tue Jul 01, 2008 3:01 am

Robert - the system is being trialed in response to a number of our clients across Sydney who have all had blockages/sediment in their machines after being installed for 12 months or less. All are Synesso 3 group machines with .6mm restrictors. One has blocked twice the other two once each in the last year just behind the restrictor point.

It is a real RO system from an Australian manufacturer called Greener Pastures (I'll find the www at work tomorrow) who primarily developed the system in response to health concerns with water purification etc.

Currently we have been remineralising with Calcium Carbonate at 24 - 25 ppm/tds (not sure of the correct terminology) and the usual Sydney water from supply is anywhere from 39 - 79 (it comes from four different catchment areas) - overall not too hard but still something is irritating the Synessos all across the city.

Previously we were running a filter with .5 micron which is a lot finer than the standard issue 5 micron filter here. This has been removed and the RO is the only system now feeding the machine.

My primary issue is with the taste effects this might have. From the very very limited reading I have done and preliminary discussions with a Chemical engineer and organic biologist I'm still trying to find it difficult to specifically determine what it might do to the extraction and taste of the espresso. From what I can taste so far - there is a distinct souring of the espresso being extracted, although we're still waiting to setup a twin system on regular supply to do more comparative cuppings. I'm wondering if too much is now being drawn from the coffee or similar... .and was hoping someone else might have had experience or tasted coffee off a similar setup.
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Re: Reverse Osmosis Systems - any info?

Postby Peter Treston on Tue Jul 01, 2008 4:01 am

I have a Ted Lingle book "the basics of brewing coffee" which recommends 50-100ppm, while the ECBC Brewer Certification Programme calls for 100-200ppm. I have seen the latter in other guidelines/literature too. Pure water is quite aggressive and will extract more from the coffee, including undesirable flavours/compounds.

Many plumbed machines depend on mineral content for water level probes to work. A current flows through mineralized water and the probes pick this up. In pure or heavily filtered water the current may not be enough so you run the risk of flooding, the machine thinks it is still empty.
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Re: Reverse Osmosis Systems - any info?

Postby Klaus on Tue Jul 01, 2008 11:21 am

AFAIK pure RO water is quite low PH so it might corrode the stainless steel boilers of for example a Synesso. Also, the blind tasting we did found it to be quite bad taste-wise. I'd be careful with pure RO, but in combination with a (filtered) by-pass or re-mineralisation (and stabilization of PH) it can be a great solution. Em, I'm just a wondering how much waste water you get from the RO? Ive heard ranges from 25% to 60% depending on the quality of the inlet water. How is this with the shortage of drinking water down under? I thought RO would be banned :|

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Re: Reverse Osmosis Systems - any info?

Postby Emily Oak on Tue Jul 01, 2008 4:35 pm

http://www.greenpastures.com.au

http://www.greenpastures.com.au/index.p ... flyer.html

We've acutally disconnected the system - the coffee was tasting funky :-) a distinct and consistent souring across a whole lot of different origins and roast colours.

Klaus - We had the waste water plummed directly into the drainage but we're going to meet up with the manufacturer next week and I'll talk to him about the wastage elements. Yes we have a shortage of water but for some reason it's all good! The government is currently building a desalination plant (RO of course!) to feed into our drinking system although we've had a bit of rain in recent months and the dams are back up around 60% (from 39% in January.)

Interesting what you say about the remineralisation - currently with Calcium Carbonate but we also have the option of Coral sand (not sure what that is!) for the correct functioniong of the boiler and of course to prevent corrosion of the boiler. I'm wondering if we increase the mineralisation if the coffee will taste any better considering the numbers above suggest between 50 - 200ppm. Normal water supply into Sydney is betweek 39 - 61 according to our local water supplier!

http://www.sydneywater.com.au/Publicati ... pdf#Page=1

For now we're on hold until I can talk more with the manufacturer but I'm still very keen to hear what people have experienced or read.

Blind water tasting from the synesso (warm and cooled) gave no real indication of any major taste differences.
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Re: Reverse Osmosis Systems - any info?

Postby Emily Oak on Thu Jul 17, 2008 9:02 pm

Klaus wrote:Em, I'm just a wondering how much waste water you get from the RO? Ive heard ranges from 25% to 60% depending on the quality of the inlet water. How is this with the shortage of drinking water down under? I thought RO would be banned :|


Klaus - met with the guy who installed it yesterday - the output is 1.25L waste water for every 1L of water into the machine.

In regards to the corrosion question - his testing/opinion was that 1 year exposure to the RO water with remineralisation was the equivalent of 1 boiler descale.

Em
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Re: Reverse Osmosis Systems - any info?

Postby Klaus on Fri Jul 18, 2008 8:53 am

Hi Em.

Yes, I suspected that kind of waste percentage. It's quite high I think. I've heard of RO systems wasting only 25 % of the output capacity, but I don't know if they're as good as the one you've gotten hold of. And if the water shortage problem isn't huge where you are, it won't be a problem right.
If possible I'd check up on the PH value of the water. I have a tendency to not always trust those guys installing this sort of equipment. Call it paranoia...
Looking forward to hear how you find the taste and aroma with the new system.

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Re: Reverse Osmosis Systems - any info?

Postby roger on Fri Jul 18, 2008 9:15 pm

From what I recall an efficient R.O. system would be good to achieve 100% waste, e.g, for every gallon of treated water they generate 1 gallon of waste water. Less efficent systems approach 300% waste (1 gal. treated to 3 gal. of waste). The amount of water sent down the drain in an R.O. system always causes me to view it as a last resort. I welcome the day that someone is able to produce an effective water treatment solution that won't put the world's water supply under greater stress.
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Re: Reverse Osmosis Systems - any info?

Postby roger on Sat Jul 19, 2008 2:12 pm

roger wrote:100% waste, e.g, for every gallon of treated water they generate 1 gallon of waste water. Less efficent systems approach 300% waste (1 gal. treated to 3 gal. of waste).


My percentages are not clear. I should have used 50% and 75% respectively. Posting when you should already be in bed is never a good idea. :wink:
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Re: Reverse Osmosis Systems - any info?

Postby Rod Carmer on Thu Jul 24, 2008 3:03 pm

Emily,

I have read the streams and a very important factor was not asked. Have you obtained a water analysis? Can you supply the following levels of contaminants in the supply water:

TDS ppm (Total Dissolved Solids):
Grains Hardness:
Alkalinity:
Chlorine:
Iron:
pH:

With this information we can make recommendations to you.

Thank you,

Rod Carmer
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Re: Reverse Osmosis Systems - any info?

Postby phaelon56 on Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:50 am

I do not yet have any practical experience with this topic but the Northeast Roasters group is having a retreat in late August at which Cirqua will be doing a comparative cupping exercise for us with water that has been mineralized at different levels. I'm really looking forward to that and will try to remember to post here with feedback on the experience.
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Re: Reverse Osmosis Systems - any info?

Postby Tim Dominick on Fri Jul 25, 2008 9:42 am

roger wrote:
roger wrote:100% waste, e.g, for every gallon of treated water they generate 1 gallon of waste water. Less efficent systems approach 300% waste (1 gal. treated to 3 gal. of waste).


My percentages are not clear. I should have used 50% and 75% respectively. Posting when you should already be in bed is never a good idea. :wink:


I'm not sure how this would apply to those using municipal water sources, but I have seen systems that use wells and storage tanks where the RO waste water is pumped back into a 10,000 gallon storage tank, blended with water from the well, and recirculated thru the filtration system.
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Re: Reverse Osmosis Systems - any info?

Postby Rod Carmer on Fri Jul 25, 2008 2:16 pm

There is a lot of new techonology out there today. Utilizing a "Water Re-Use" unit is best. There a lot of uses for "Brine" water. Mostly you can use if for a dipper well, dish washer amongst other things. To many Myths about RO Water... Rod
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Re: Reverse Osmosis Systems - any info?

Postby Emily Oak on Fri Jul 25, 2008 8:04 pm

I can get that analysis from the guy who installed the system - I was not there when it was initially put in so I didn't get that data.

I'll find out and post back to you.

In the meantime he's put in a second system at Espresso Company Australia and we're going to do some comparative taste tests with two pimped Vibiemme Replica's in the next few weeks.
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Re: Reverse Osmosis Systems - any info?

Postby Lennoncs on Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:46 am

I have kind of jumped into this thread late but we are in the process of designing/installing a whole house RO system(lots of arsenic here...yum)
We were shocked by the dismal recovery rates for residential RO systems and went with a high recovery, Pumped system that recirculates the brine stream.
There is quite a large difference in recovery rates for various RO systems depending on the membrane, recirculation system used, system pressure, temperature, etc...

Dow, Liquid Separation division, has an excellent site with a large amount of technical resources on their Filmtec membranes and general RO system design.

http://www.dow.com/liquidseps/


I found a bit of dark humor in the fact that we spent thousands filtering our water only to add a re-mineralization system to add everything(short of arsenic) back in.


cheers,
Sean
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Re: Reverse Osmosis Systems - any info?

Postby Rod Carmer on Thu Aug 07, 2008 12:44 pm

Keep in mind that the Dow/Filmtec guide is just that a guide. There is a tremendous amount of new technology available today that would answer any of your questions for Recovery, ReDistribution, Water ReUse so that you could virtually have no discharge to drain.

Residential units generally are designed for that specifically. Residential. Not for a demand typically called for in a Commercial Use application. Foodservice, Cafe, Coffee House, etc...

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Re: Reverse Osmosis Systems - any info?

Postby Jason Haeger on Sat Aug 09, 2008 1:11 pm

Rod, let me just say that I am thrilled to see you on coffeed.
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