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Understanding Reverse Osmosis: A Deep Dive into the Filtration Process


Glass of water sitting on kitchen counter

Humans have been attempting to purify water, one way or another, for at least 3400 years. These methods have met with varying degrees of success. These days, the struggle for clean water revolves around getting water purification to places that need it.

Among the most recent breakthroughs in water purification was the creation of reverse osmosis. This discovery was the reversal of a natural process and was first achieved by Srinivasa Sourirajan in the early 1960s.

How does reverse osmosis work, though, and what role does it play in a drinking water filter system? We'll discuss that here.

What is Osmosis?

Osmosis is the natural movement of water with low salt concentration through a membrane and into an area of high salt concentration. The ultimate goal of the process is to even out the concentration on both sides. 

This process occurs in nature when plants take water from the soil. There's a higher salt concentration in the plants roots than in the soil, so water moves into the root system. 

What is Reverse Osmosis?

Reverse osmosis is the process of water with a high concentration of salt moving into an area with lower concentrations of salt. The tendency of water solutions to balance out means that this doesn't occur naturally.

Reverse osmosis occurs when pressure forces water through a membrane and into another area with lower salt concentration. The membrane keeps the salt from getting through, so the water loses much of its salt content during the process.

Reverse Osmosis and Water Filtration

What does reverse osmosis have to do with water purification? It turns out that reverse osmosis can play an important part in the water filtration process.

The idea of filtering out salt using a semi-permeable object can apply to other contaminants too. Reverse osmosis systems use pressure to force water through a filter. The filter is designed so that particles can't get through, but water can.

Submersible pumps are often used in large-scale water filtration and can create the pressure needed for reverse osmosis. 

Limitations

A reverse osmosis water filter goes a long way towards purifying water, but they have limits. This doesn't mean you should avoid them, though. Every system has its flaws, so it's best to use multiple types of filtration system to make sure your water is clean.

A good drinking water system should mix physical filters and chemical-based filters. This ensures that the water has been cleaned of particles and dangerous chemicals or organisms that might get through a sieve.

Reverse Osmosis and the Drinking Water Filter System

If you're looking for a great drinking water filter system, we recommend looking into reverse osmosis systems. We've discussed reverse osmosis and how it works here, but there's always more to learn.

You can learn more about water treatment by looking through our blog. If you're looking for a water treatment service in the Calgary or Edmonton area, we at Western Pump can help. Head over to the "Water Treatment" section of our site to learn about the many water treatment options we offer.

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