Reverse Osmosis (commonly called RO) water has been enjoyed for drinking, manufacturing and other applications for many years.
The Reverse Osmosis purification process was originally used by the US Navy to provide water for their submarine crew members - salt from sea water is removed to make a potable beverage enabling their men to stay aboard for extended periods of time.
In recent years Reverse Osmosis has really taken off as a water of choice for many consumers - not only is the process reputable, the resulting water tastes light and refreshing!
To understand what Reverse Osmosis is, one has to first understand what Osmosis is:
Osmosis is the natural process where water moves from a high concentration of water (less salts & minerals dissolved in it) to a low concentration of water (more salts & minerals dissolved in it) across a semi-permeable membrane.
Also known as “ultra-filtration”, the reverse osmosis method is one of the top-of-the-line methods for water filtration and treatment. It is one of the most comprehensive and thorough systems for filtering water.
Water is 'pushed' (forced) through a sub-micron, semi-permeable membrane under pressure, forcing the water to pass from a more concentrated solution to a less concentrated solution.
Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems utilize this applied pressure and a semi-permeable membrane (RO Membrane) to reduce contaminants for great-tasting water without adding any chemicals. They are typically used to purify drinking water which is where contaminant levels matter the most.
The Reverse Osmosis Membrane
A Reverse Osmosis membrane uses a semi-permeable membrane (some things can pass through and others can’t) to separate water molecules from other molecules. Semi-permeable membranes for water treatment allow passage based on the size of the particle as well its molecular charge. Holes or pores in the membrane are sized just big enough for the passage of a water molecule - even small contaminants such as tobacco smoke or paint pigments are too big to go through an RO membrane.
These membranes are layered and wrapped around a central water tube in a spiral wound membrane module. This membrane is only 0.1nm - 50 times smaller than even the finest heavy metals and viruses, and around 5000 times smaller than bacteria.
Because the membrane only lets certain molecules pass through, there is some waste liquid with a highly-concentrated amount of contaminants that goes to the drain.
The virtually contaminant-free water that makes it through the membrane, called the permeate, is safe to drink and tastes great.
The Reverse Osmosis System
Every Reverse Osmosis system has at least four parts:
- a pre-filter,
- an RO Membrane,
- a Storage Tank, and
- a post-filter.
Supplied, untreated water enters the system through the pre-filter, which protects and extends the life of the membrane by filtering out the things that can harm it, like chlorine and sediment.