Reverse Osmosis


Reverse osmosis (R.O.) is a membrane separation technology that is very effective in removing almost all inorganic contaminants and dissolved solids in fluids (Figure 1). The membranes for R.O. can be able to remove up to 99,8% of substances present in water, ranging from inorganic chemicals to organic and biological contaminantsReverse osmosis can remove contaminants and dissolved solids using a semi-permeable membrane that permits only water and not dissolved ions (such as sodium and chloride) to pass through it. Contaminated water is forced through the membrane by high pressure, leaving contaminants and dissolved solids behind. Membranes are available in a variety of pore sizes and characteristics.

This technology is effective to treat water with total dissolved solids as high as 48,600 mg/l (Gulf region seawater). These units are compact, easy and simple to operate and maintain.


They are relatively insensitive to changes in flow rate and operate immediately without any break-in. For bigger R.O. plants special attention is given to its relatively operating and capital cost.
The greater portion of the operating cost of a sea water R.O. plant is the power consumption and for this reason newly developed energy recovery devices are able to reduce the energy consumption to the minimum. Managing the wastewater (brine) is also a potential problem for brackish water desalination.

Figure 1. Schematic of the Osmosis and Reverse Osmosis processes.

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