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Reverse Osmosis

History of Reverse Osmosis

While first discovered in 1748 by French clergyman and physicist Jean-Antoine Nollet, reverse osmosis remained a phenomenon relegated to the laboratory until the mid to late 1950’s when a number or researchers started to discover ways of making asymmetric membranes with thin film technology.  By the turn of the century, reverse osmosis systems were becoming highly sophisticated and efficient and with every passing day, reverse osmosis becomes a bigger part of manufacturing, analyzing, processing and purification of many liquids, most importantly, water. 


The Process of Reverse Osmosis

Osmosis is a natural process. When two liquids with differing concentrations of a solute are separated by a semi-permeable membrane, the liquid tends to move from low to high solute concentrations to reach equilibrium.

Reverse osmosis is a process whereby a solvent of high solute concentration is forced through a semi-permeable membrane to an area of low solute concentration by applying pressure. The feed water pressure must exceed the osmotic pressure in order for the process to work.  Thus, low pressure systems work with more dilute solutions, but highly concentrated solutions (such as sea water desalination) require greater pressures to work.  The fact of the matter is that reverse osmosis is the most economical technology to purify water to extremely high quality standards. 

Some people believe that a reverse osmosis system, such as the US Water 4000 gpd day system pictured at the right is a typical reverse osmosis system, however what is seen at the right is just a “component” of a much larger system. 


What Makes Up a Complete Reverse Osmosis System?

A typical reverse osmosis system is much more than just to “RO Component.”  A complete Reverse Osmosis System generally includes several other components, such as:

  • Pre-Treatment – this includes carbon filters to remove chlorine, iron, manganese and sulfur filters, water softeners or ant-scalant systems.
  • Storage and Distribution – RO systems make water slowly, so a tank is required.  There are two (2) types of tanks – atmospheric and bladder types.  Atmospheric types are typically bigger and since there is no bladder to supply back-pressure, the water quality is higher in an atmospheric tank verses a bladder tank.  Smaller systems (generally under 1,000 gpd often use bladder tanks from 14 to 80 gallons, while larger volume systems use atmospheric tanks from 75 gallons to 2,000 gallons.  When using an atmospheric tank a booster pump must be utilized to re-pressure the water and distribute it.
  • Post-Treatment – this includes ultraviolet disinfection (UV) or ozonation to kill bacteria, pH adjustment to raise the pH or add some hardness back to the water and/or deionization to totally demineralize the water.
  • Instrumentation – monitoring the end water quality is often desirable, so a number of instruments and analyzers are available to facilitate that.System Configuration

Typical Complete Reverse Osmosis System Components:

  1. Backwashing Carbon Filter
  2. Anti-scalant Component
  3. RO Component
  4. Atmospheric Tank
  5. Distribution and re-pressurization Pump
  6. Ultraviolet Disinfection
  7. .2 Micron Post Filter
  8. Deionization Cartridges
  9. Quality Light

 US Water is the “one-stop-shop” to engineer and design a sustainable, economical and practical reverse osmosis system for what your application happened to be.  Fill out the form at the right or call on of our Commercial Reverse Osmosis Engineers at 800-608-8792  get systems design help from the experts.

That's where US Water shines as well - from inception of the idea, design, engineering, consulation to technical support seven days a week, you are dealing with the Best-In-The Business.

Designing a Commercial-Industrial Reverse Osmosis System

  • A commercial RO functions at its highest level when it is fed into an open-air or atmospheric tank.  With no back-pressure from the bladder of a pressurized storage tank, a commercial RO will deliver water that is extremely low in TDS; it's not unusual for the TDS to be near ZERO when the RO is discharged into a atmospheric pressure tank.  In food service applications or other applications where extremely low or ZERO TDS is not critical, a bladder tank can be utilized, but if a manufacturing process calls for extremely low TDS water, then the atmospheric tank is far and away the best solution.
  • Proper pre-treatment is necessary for successful and economical operation of a commercial RO system.  The water needs to be as soft as possible or a scalant needs to be fed ahead of the system to prevent membrane scaling.  In most cases, a water softener and backwashing carbon filter are the preferred and most cost effective method of pretreatment.
  • An atmospheric tank is required for storage of the RO water, and US Water offers atmospheric tanks in sizes from 20 gallons to 9,000 gallons, as well as every size in between.  Additionally, the water needs to be re-pressurized out of the atmospheric tank(s) so several pumps of high purity water are offered as well as ultraviolet disinfection, UV, which kills any airborne or waterborne bacteria which could intrude into the atmospheric tank.
  • Additionally, US Water offers Deionization, DI, of the water for ultrapure applications, such as laboratory water and semi-conductor manufacturing, as well as instrumentation and monitoring. 

If you need any design or sizing help, US Water has the Engineering and Technical Support Staff to handle any application.  Call us at 800-608-USWA or e-mail us at [email protected].

Proper Sizing of a Commercial Reverse Osmosis System

Commercial/Industrial Reverse Osmosis Sizing Information

Here are just a few factors to consider before deciding on a system:

  • Hardness
  • TDS
  • Chlorine Level
  • Iron Level
  • Manganese Level
  • Silica
  • Barium or Strontium + Sulfate (SO4)
  • Turbidity

Membrane Solutions

We provide membrane solutions for any type of water, however, the reverse osmosis system is only part of the solution.  US Water offer the complete solution to all of your water problems, including:

If you are not sure what you need, just call us at 800-608-USWA or e-mail us at [email protected].  We're here to help!  .