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NY L80202

October 28, 2004

CLA-2-84:RR:NC:1:104 L80202


TARIFF NO.: 8421.21.0000

Ms. Mary E. Wright
Grunfeld, Desiderio, et al.
45 School Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02108

RE: The tariff classification of reverse osmosis membrane elements from Japan

Dear Ms. Wright:

In your letter dated October 8, 2004 on behalf of Toray Membrane America, Inc. you requested a tariff classification ruling.

You have provided a technical summary including schematics of a reverse osmosis (RO) membrane element, also known as a RO filter element and RO filter cartridge. The fully assembled cartridge is used to remove dissolved salts and other materials from water. Specifications have been provided for Models TM820-400 and TM820-370. Both models measure 40 inches in length and 7.9 inches in diameter. In a typical installation, as many as eight of these cartridges are installed end-to-end in long pressure vessels connected together by piping manifolds. Grey or untreated water is pumped into the cartridges and, once inside, is forced through the filtration membrane. The permeate or pure water is then collected as are, separately, the impurities or concentrate.

The major components of a reverse osmosis filter element consist of the filtration membrane, a mesh spacer, a permeate carrier, the product tube and a brine seal. The filtration membrane, which accounts for 63.5% of the material costs of the whole element, consists of three layers of materials, a polyamide layer, a polysulfone layer and a non-woven polyester layer. The polyamide, which performs desalination by allowing water to pass through while holding back dissolved salts through reverse osmosis, is a non-cellular plastic film approximately 0.2 microns thick. The polysulfone layer consists of a cellular plastic film/polymer about 5 to 10 microns thick. It’s an ultra filtration membrane that can withhold certain solids as well as bacteria and viruses however it cannot perform reverse osmosis. The non-woven polyester layer is not involved in any of the filtration functions. It merely acts as a secondary support structure.

You suggest that the reverse osmosis filter element is classified under HTS subheading 8421.21.0000 which provides for filtering or purifying machinery and apparatus for liquids: for filtering or purifying water. You point out that HQ ruling 966642 of July 9, 2004 classified the filtration membrane imported in roll form under HTS subheading 3921.19.0000 which provides for other plates, sheets, film, foil and strip, of plastics: cellular: of other plastics. Since HQ 966642 has determined that the membrane is a plastic rather than a textile, it is not excluded from heading 8421 by virtue of any section XVI or chapter 84 legal note. You also note that the sole use of the product is to filter or purify water and that the filtration membrane imparts the essential character to the fully assembled cartridge.

The applicable subheading for the reverse osmosis membrane element will be 8421.21.0000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for filtering or purifying machinery and apparatus for liquids: for filtering or purifying water. The rate of duty will be free.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).

A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist Robert Losche at 646-733-3011.


Robert B. Swierupski

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