Reverse osmosis is one of the filtration processes that are used for the purpose of purifying water, by removing all its impurities. In this particular method, pressure is used to force a solution through a membrane. As this happens, the solute is retained on one side, while the pure solvent is allowed to pass to the other. Since the filtration process involves the reverse of normal osmosis process - in the form of the natural movement of solvent from an area of low solute concentration, through a membrane, to an area of high solute concentration, without any application of external pressure - it is termed as reverse osmosis. Let us now explore the pros and cons as well as numerous applications of the reverse osmosis process, in detail.
Reverse Osmosis Advantages & Disadvantages
- Reverse osmosis provides pathogen-free and contaminant-free water for household drinking and cooking purposes.
- It proves to be very much effective in desalinating water and providing mineral-free water for use in photo or print shops.
- Reverse osmosis gets rid of the harmful chlorine and bacteria that is overly present in the average home’s tap water.
- It has been found to be extremely useful in desalination of water i.e. conversion of salt water into fresh water.
- Owing to the low back pressure in reverse osmosis plants, they make use of a lot of water. Majority of the water is discharged as waste water, while only 5-15 percent comes out as purified.
- The small pores in the membrane of a reverse osmosis plant cannot block dangerous chemicals like pesticides, herbicides, and chlorine. In order to remove them, carbon filter has to be used as a complimentary measure.
- Yet another disadvantage of reverse osmosis is that it ends up removing the healthy, naturally occurring minerals (trace minerals) present in the water as well. These minerals not only make the water taste good, but are also vital to the human body.
- In comparison to the other water treatment options, reverse osmosis proves to be a very slow option.
Applications Of Reverse Osmosis
Reverse osmosis finds its use in the following areas:
- Used for improving household water, for drinking and cooking purposes
- Used for purifying rain water collected from storm drains, to be used for landscape irrigation and industrial cooling
- Used for concentrating food liquids (such as fruit juices)
- Used for production of whey protein powders and concentration of milk
- Used in wine industry, for wine and juice concentration, taint removal and alcohol removal
- Used for purifying water to be used in car washes, during the final vehicle rinse, to prevent water spotting on the vehicle
- Used in hydrogen production, to prevent formation of minerals on the surface of electrodes and to remove organics from drinking water
- Used in maple syrup production, to remove water from sap
- Used in reef aquariums, for making artificial mixture of seawater