Reverse osmosis is a water filtration technology that uses a thin semi-permeable membrane with small pores that allows pure water to pass through while blocking larger molecules such as ionized dissolved salts and other impurities. Reverse osmosis produces highly pure water that can be used in industrial boilers, drinking water systems, desalination, pharmaceutical production, cosmetic production, food and beverage processing, and many other applications.
As a water treatment process, reverse osmosis offers many advantages, including
Total dissolved solids reduction: Reverse osmosis is one of the few water treatment processes that can reduce total dissolved solids. The few other treatment methods that have this capability are typically less effective than reverse osmosis.
Cost-effectiveness: Reverse osmosis is popular in industrial settings because it is very economical compared to alternative filtration methods. It allows plants to treat large volumes of water while remaining comfortable within a given budget.
Environmentally friendly: Reverse osmosis is also more environmentally friendly compared to other treatment methods. It uses less energy than other methods such as thermal distillation because it is not dependent on energy generation. Using reverse osmosis can help facilities reduce their carbon footprint, protect the environment and do what they can to curb climate change.
Removal of alkalinity and hardness: Reverse osmosis removes calcium and magnesium ions that cause hard water, as well as carbonate ions that cause unwanted alkalinity.
Reverse osmosis is a continuously operating treatment technology that uses pressure to pass source water through a membrane, which separates impurities from the water.
Reverse osmosis (RO) works on the principle of reverse osmosis, the natural tendency of water containing dissolved salts to flow from a low salt concentration to a higher salt concentration in the membrane. This process is ubiquitous in nature. Plants use it to absorb water and nutrients from the soil. In humans and other animals, the kidneys use osmosis to absorb water from the blood.
The principle of reverse osmosis reverses this process. In an RO system, pressure (usually from a pump) is used to overcome the natural osmotic pressure, forcing feed water containing dissolved salts and other impurities through a highly complex semi-permeable membrane that removes most of the impurities. The product of this process is highly pure water. Water pressure is essential. Water pressure is what forces water through the membrane for purification and flushes out rejected solids. Low water pressure will result in reduced membrane yield and premature scaling. The ideal pressure to operate a RO system is 60 PSI. pressures below 40 PSI are usually considered inadequate and should be boosted with a booster pump.
Rejected salts and impurities are concentrated and collected above the membrane and discharged from the system or into other processes. In a typical commercial or industrial application, 75% of the feed water is purified. In applications where water conservation is important, 85% of the feedwater is purified.
RO systems use cross-filtration, where the solution passes through the filter through two outlets: the filtered water flows in one direction and the contaminated water flows in the other. To avoid contaminant buildup, staggered filtration allows water to wash away contaminant buildup and enough turbulence to keep the membrane surface clean.
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