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REVERSE OSMOSIS

Preface: Reverse osmosis (RO) is a water


treatment process that uses pressure to force
water molecules through a semi-permeable
membrane. It is called reverse osmo- sis
because the pressure causes the water to flow in a
reverse direction, (from the concentrate solution
to the dilute solution) to the flow direction, (from
the dilute to the concentrate. The membrane will
allow the water to pass but will trap any ion- ized
salts, colloids, organic molecules or other
impurities larger than 0.0001 mi- crons. This
eBook takes a look at some of the uses for reverse
osmosis in the industrial world and the ways in
which this innovative water filtration technology
can save businesses money.
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Chapter 1: Reverse Osmosis Design and
Engineering
Engineers must take several factors into
consideration when designing a custom reverse
osmosis system, including the source waters
temperature, flow rate, pH, hardness level and
contaminants. Depending on the application, both
a pretreat- ment and post treatment filtration may
be required to treat the source water in addition to
the reverse osmosis process. Pre-filters are often

required to remove sediment material, such as


sand or other large contaminants, from source
water which could quickly clog up a Reverse
Osmosis membrane. In cases where the source
water comes from a municipal facility, water
should be pre-filtered through an activated carbon
filter or treated with chlorine reducing agents to
prevent deterioration of the membrane. For
industrial applications, such as boiler feed water or
process water, pretreat- ment with a water
softener is also recommended to prevent scaling
and corrosion. Water softening uses an ion
exchange process to remove scale-depositing minerals. For ultrapure water used in laboratories or a
health care setting, an additional post- RO
filtration method may be required for further
purification.
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Chapter 2: What Does Reverse Osmosis Remove?
Reverse Osmosis removes contaminants and
impurities larger than 0.0001 mi- crons, including:
various types of salts, metals, viral and bacterial
organisms (such as polio and other disease
causing organisms), and dissolved minerals (such
as lead, zinc, and phosphate). Depending on the
characteristics of the system, min- eral rejection
rates will typically vary from 90 to 99 percent.

Chapter 3: Saving Money with Reverse Osmosis


Reverse osmosis systems offer an economical
solution for producing high purity water and
lowering production costs. When used to treat
boiler feed water, reverse osmosis removes
contaminants that would otherwise collect inside
the boiler and result in scaling, blow back, and frequent maintenance. By using water treated
through reverse osmosis, scheduled maintenance
costs are lowered and boiler up-time is increased.
By extension, the incidents of unscheduled boiler
maintenance events are also reduced, improving
service delivery. Reverse osmosis systems also
help to extend the life of cooling towers. Microorganism growth, scaling, corrosion, and dirt
accumulation are all threats to the lifespan of a
cooling tower. The semi-permeable membrane of
an RO filter captures bacterial organisms and
mineral deposits, reducing the threats of
microorganism growth, scaling and corrosion.
Similar to the above case regarding boiler feed
water, maintenance and operating costs are
reduced. Modern reverse osmosis systems are
capable of filtering several million gallons of water
per day. Industrial reverse osmosis systems

typically recover anywhere from 50% to 75% of


filtered feed water.

Definitions: Activated Carbon Filter A water


treatment medium, which is produced by heating
carbonaceous substances (such as coal, wood or
coconut shell) then activating with higher heat and
oxidizing gases. Carbon filtration is commonly used
for dechlorination organics removal and other
specialty processes. Hard Water - A common
quality of water which contains dissolved
compounds of calcium and magnesium.
Membrane A semipermeable, thin sheet or
surface film, of micro-porous struc- ture that
performs as a filter of particles down to .0001
microns. Reverse Osmosis The process of using
pressure to force water through a semi- permeable
membrane to filter out contaminants. Scaling A
hard mineral coating or incrustation formed by the
precipitation of salts calcium and magnesium from
water.