An Overview of RO Systems
Like so many modern technological advances, RO (Reverse Osmosis) systems are based on natural processes. In this case, the credit must go to the botanists for unravelling the process by which water passes to and from through the cellulose walls of plant cells. Plants need water both to keep their stems turgid and for nutritional purposes. Capillary action is responsible for the turgidity. However, plant nutrition depends on a phenomenon known as osmotic pressure, which drives water through the semi-permeable cell walls from regions of high solute content to areas of lower concentration.
RO systems employ external pressure to force water through an artificial semi-permeable membrane and beyond the point of equilibrium. In this manner, the water and solutes become wholly separated, providing filtration at the nano or molecular level. The technology has applications in commerce, industry and at home.
Sales of bottled water have snowballed in recent decades as consumers have sought more natural and non-chlorinated alternatives to drinking tap water. To achieve the required level of purity cost-effectively, most commercial producers of still and sparkling water rely on RO systems. Hotels and hospital managers also wish to ensure that the water they offer their guests or patients is of the highest quality. For these and similar institutions, reverse osmosis technology also provides a convenient means to attain that goal.
One commercial application that doesn’t relate to potability is window cleaning. Operatives employ a compact, portable ultrafiltration system to spray ultra-clean water that will leave behind no dried residue on the cleaned glass panes.
Despite the concerns of bottled water fans, water treatment plants frequently employ RO systems during the latter stages of purification before chlorinating the final product to maintain sterility. In other industries such as pharmaceuticals, semiconductors and food and beverages, manufacturers and producers require extra-high purity levels. A reverse osmosis stage will often form part of their water purification routine.
However, there can be little doubt that this technology has revolutionised the removal of salt from seawater and brackish sources, replacing the slower and more energy-hungry process of distillation. The burgeoning desalination industry has joined marine vessels to become major users of RO systems.
In the Home
The benefits of membrane separation are not limited to commerce and industry. On the residential scene, many households now employ a combination of pre-filtration and reverse osmosis to improve the taste of their domestic water supply and its overall purity. Typically, this technology can remove any protozoa, bacteria and viruses present, as well as any residual chemicals, including chlorine.
For further information and high-quality reverse osmosis equipment, chat with a Watericon expert.