Updated: Jun 1, 2021
Reverse Osmosis, generally referred to as RO, is a mechanism in which water is demineralized or deionized by moving it through a semi-permeable Reverse Osmosis Membrane under pressure.
You must first realize the naturally occurring process of Osmosis to comprehend the purpose and process of Reverse Osmosis.
Osmosis is a phenomenon that is naturally occurring and one of the most significant processes in nature. It is a system in which a weaker saline solution appears to move to a stronger saline solution. Examples of osmosis are when plant roots absorb water from the soil and water from our blood is absorbed by our kidneys.
A less-oriented solution would have a natural tendency to move to a higher concentration solution. For example, if you have a container full of water with a low concentration of salt and another container full of water with a high concentration of salt and separated by a semi-permeable membrane, the water with a lower concentration of salt will begin to migrate to a container of water with a higher concentration of salt.
A semi-permeable membrane is a membrane that allows the passage of certain atoms or molecules, but not others. A screen door offers a simple example. It enables the movement of air molecules, but not rodents or anything larger than the holes in the screen door. Gore-tex clothing fabric that contains an incredibly thin plastic film through which billions of tiny pores have been cut is another example. The pores are wide enough to let water vapor pass through but tiny enough to avoid the passage of liquid water.
The method of Osmosis in reverse is Reverse Osmosis. Whereas osmosis happens naturally without the energy needed, you need to add energy to the more saline solution to reverse the osmosis process. A semi-permeable membrane is a reverse osmosis membrane that allows water molecules to move through, but not most dissolved salts, organics, bacteria, and pyrogens.
However, by applying pressure that is greater than the naturally occurring osmotic pressure to desalinate (demineralize or deionize) water in the process, you need to ‘force’ the water through the reverse osmosis membrane, allowing pure water to move through while holding back most pollutants.
The water molecules are pushed through the semi-permeable membrane as pressure is applied to the concentrated solution, and the pollutants are not allowed through.
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