More about Reverse Osmosis Systems
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Useful in water treatment and various food processing applications, reverse osmosis systems are capable of removing solute from a contaminated liquid. This is achieved through the application of sufficient pressure to a solution so that it is able to pass through a semi-permeable membrane (or filter). This pressure must be high enough to reverse the natural movement of the solution, which would normally direct purified liquid into the solvent, rather than out of it. The natural phenomenon behind this is known as osmotic pressure.
Osmotic pressure is the tendency of a liquid or low-level solvent to move through a semi-permeable membrane into an area with a solvent of higher solute concentration. Essentially, the phenomenon occurs because more molecules of a size able to pass through the filter strike it on the side with less solute. Therefore, more molecules pass from one side of the filter than from the other. However, once sufficient pressure is applied to the solvent with higher solute concentration, one can reverse the natural direction of the molecules, and force purified solvent out of a solution.
The process is extremely useful in the purification of water, especially as pertaining to seawater or water with otherwise high salt content. It also factors in to a number of drinking water purification systems, as it is able to remove a wide range of pollutants and harmful microorganisms. However, one must be sure to replace filters and filter cartridges when necessary and to be conscious of the chemical limitations of the filter being used (some are rendered ineffective by chlorine).
In addition to the materials used within the filter, the purification system itself must also be impervious to contaminants and durable enough to withstand the hazards of regular use. Typical materials used in reverse osmosis systems include various synthetics, such as polypropylene, and certain metals.