Reverse Osmosis: How it Works

By | March 13, 2017

Due to the abundance of many pollutants nowadays, getting to drink even a mere glass of clean, pure water is hard work. Microbes can be found looming around in the corner of your water bottle, ready to pounce and cause you various diseases. You need to get yourself protected.

With the availability of Reverse Osmosis technology for water filtration, having pure, safe drinking water is not impossible. But before we understand how Reverse Osmosis works, we need to have a quick review of our chemistry way back in school, and reacquaint ourselves with how the natural osmosis works.

Natural Osmosis

Osmosis is a naturally-occurring process wherein a solvent, water in this case, migrates from one solution to another through a semipermeable membrane to balance the concentration of the two solutions. If you have two bottles of sugared water with different concentrations, and is separated by a semipermeable membrane, the natural tendency is for the water from the less concentrated solution to migrate to the more concentrated one to even their concentration levels.

A semipermeable is one that allows some atoms or molecules to pass through, but not others. Usually that’s because the holes are very small that only those that have smaller structures can pass, while the bigger ones cannot. Picture it this way. Suppose you have a screen door. It has holes small enough to let air pass through, but not insects and other pests.

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse Osmosis, as the name suggests, does a similar thing, but in reverse. This is a technique used to cleanse the water from any impurities like pollutants, minerals, bacteria, pyrogens, and dissolved salts. However, this process does not occur naturally, and would require a foreign force which has to be more powerful than the naturally present osmotic pressure.

The process is made possible through the use of a high pressure pump which increases the pressure on the more concentrated solution. Remember that in natural osmosis, the tendency is for the water to migrate from the less concentrated solution to the highly concentrated one, to even their concentration levels. Now the aim of reverse osmosis is for the water to stay in one place, and the minerals, pyrogens, salts, and other contaminants on the other. That way, pure, potable water can become possible.

It is very important to know that an RO (Reverse Osmosis) system uses cross flow filtration instead of the standard filtration, wherein the pollutants are constantly kept in check. With this, the solution passes to two different outlets while filtering. On one outlet, the clean water goes in, while on the other goes the polluted water. This is to make certain that contaminants will not get deposited in the filter media, as well as within the walls of the tubes. This also permits ample turbulence so that the semipermeable membrane’s surface will be kept clean.

As a result of the process, 99%+ of the dissolved salts, colloids, bacteria, among other contaminants, are removed from the water that you will be drinking.

It is imperative that we protect ourselves from water-borne diseases today; in many places around the world, many people are dying from lack of clean water to drink. Make sure that your family will be safe.


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