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Old 02-09-2013, 07:37 PM   #1
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Default In-Line Water Treatment for Chloramines

So today is water day ... in my effort to get back into brewing I've spent a day here on one subject, there on another. Today is water and I've been reading pretty much since 6 AM (8 hours now).

Apparently the aliens landed and convinced water departments to use chloramines instead of chlorine somewhere in the past 10 years or so. I missed that. Since my time machine is not working, I guess I need to step into the 21st century and deal with it like a man.

I've made a couple batches of mead here lately just to whet my appetite, and I'm a no-boil guy so I use Campden. I gather this was a bit of serendipity since Campden helps to allow the chloramine to off-gas. All well and good there. I do however plan to get back into AG brewing again so some planning is in order. My original intent was an RO/DI setup for my water, to which I would reintroduce what I wanted. I gather that this is only marginally effective for the reduction of chloramine?

So how can a guy reduce chloramine in-line, in order that the RO/DI setup can be used? I suppose I could collect water first, then add the Campden and allow it to gas off, but I'd sure like to be able to turn on a valve and have water I can use. Am I missing something or is this just no longer possible? Is the only way to do it a really big-a** carbon block?



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Old 02-09-2013, 08:40 PM   #2
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Choramine and chlorine are poisonous to RO membranes and, therefore, every RO system contains a carbon filter in line before the membrane to remove them. Theoretically, let me repeat that, theoretically, the carbon filter will never become exhausted if the only source of chlorine is chloramine. If any chlorine is present or if the real world doesn't match theory then it will eventually become exhausted and will need to be replaced. Any hint of chlorine odor in the permeate or concentrate would be an indicator that the filter should be replaced.



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Old 02-09-2013, 09:15 PM   #3
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AJ is correct. In my activated carbon course in grad school, we learned that chlorine and chloramine are not removed from water by adsorption. Adsorption is the way most contaminants are removed from water when using activated carbon. In the case of chlorine and chloramine, they react with the carbon and result in chloride. So with the large mass of carbon in a typical filter, it should last a long time. Unfortunately, that is not what happens in practice. You can generally get a few thousand gallons of water through the carbon before its exhausted. Be ready with a new filter. Checking the filter discharge with a Total Chlorine test kit for pools is a good idea. Do not rely on your sense of smell when dealing with chloramine since it is not very volatile and can be difficult for some people to detect.

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Old 02-09-2013, 10:17 PM   #4
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Now that's just ironic since in the 8 hours I spent reading this morning, the two of you represented a large percentage of what was not discarded as crap and superstition. Thanks for the replies.

That's great news then - the takeaway from my reading earlier was that carbon only did a so-so job. May I expect then that the flow rates typically achieved by counter-top RO/DI units is suitable for the conversion to chlorides? I further suppose that a GAC unit would be indicated, possibly two in-line with a test tap between them would be safest for the membrane?

Last question about this I think ... the chloride anion should then be bound in the DI unit, correct?

This is all good news ... I envisioned some sort of water tank/airstone setup and Campden treatment, followed by having to pump the water through the RO/DI unit. That was not sounding so bueno.

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Old 02-09-2013, 10:47 PM   #5
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It's not that carbon filters do a so-so job it's that slow flow rates are necessary as the reaction is slow. I think it's fair to assume that a manufacturer will put enough area in his filter that it will, at the flow rate at which it is desired to operate, effectively reduce the chloramine to a level safe for his membrane.

Is a second filter in series and before the RO unit a good idea? Sure if you like the belt and suspenders approach and especially if you want dechloraminated water for other purposes in the household. Obviously breakthrough would occur in this filter first while the unit's filter has plenty of remaining capacity.

The chloride ions aren't bound in the unit - they go out with the concentrate waste stream i.e. they don't cross the membrane (or most of them don't)/

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Old 02-09-2013, 11:47 PM   #6
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Excellent, thanks for the confirmation, and reassuring me my OCD is still raging.

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Old 02-10-2013, 12:00 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LBussy View Post
Excellent, thanks for the confirmation, and reassuring me my OCD is still raging.
Oh, if you're OCD, you've come to the right place.

(I think when AJ was talking about "belt and suspenders" he might have been referring to people like me!)
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Old 02-10-2013, 03:49 PM   #8
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Well of course we know it's actually CDO then.

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Old 02-11-2013, 08:32 PM   #9
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Apparently the aliens landed and convinced water departments to use chloramines instead of chlorine somewhere in the past 10 years or so. I missed that. Since my time machine is not working, I guess I need to step into the 21st century and deal with it like a man.

SOME water departments made that change. I didn't see in your OP where you stated that yours actually did change. Lots of folks see that and just assume their utility did. A quick phone call to them will verify.

Where I am, there are very few using chloramine.
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Old 02-11-2013, 08:40 PM   #10
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The regs called for smaller and smaller plants as time progressed to implement chloramination so that almost any medium sized facility is now doing it. The exceptions are those facilities that disinfect by ozonation. The hardware is expensive so I don't know how prevalent that is.

Anyway, it is easy to determine if you are chloraminated. Just let a tumblerfull of water stand out overnight. If you can still smell chlorine in the morning (pour the water back and forth into another tumbler as you sniff) then it is likely that chloramine has been used. To be certain a chloramine test kit can be had for a few $.



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