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Review of Osmosis to Explain Reverse Osmosis

| Articles | September 14, 2010

Have you heard about reverse osmosis? It should truly be a useful and advantageous process of liquid purification because more and more industries are using it. Around the world, the importance of reverse osmosis is also becoming more emphasized. As many experts say, the process holds a lot of potential. It could be a system that could eventually bring about aid and redemption. But what exactly is it? Why is it truly effective? Could it be done using improvised setups? How does it work?

It would just be impossible to understand reverse osmosis without first understanding normal osmosis, where it is derived from. As you could infer, reverse osmosis is only an opposite take of the usual process of osmosis. The dictionary defines osmosis as a natural movement of solvent molecules through semi-permeable membranes so that they could transfer into the side where there is there is lower concentration of solution. In the process, concentration on different sides is equalized so that in the end, there would be no difference on concentration. Osmosis naturally stops the moment such equality of concentration is achieved.

Semi-permeable membranes are membranes that are serving as boundaries between two regions. They are structures where molecules could pass through. Example is a saran wrap, which looks impermeable but is actually permeable. Other good examples are cell walls and intestines. There are very small pores that could allow entry of very miniscule molecules of water. Such pores are too small that they do not allow passage of other liquid molecules and other bodies. Gore-tex fabric could also be an example.

In reality, osmosis is the very same reason why consuming or drinking salty water is very dangerous. Drinking seawater or ocean water could kill anyone, especially if there is much volume consumed. When you do so, the salty water would be temporarily stored into the stomach. Natural osmotic pressure would work and begin drawing water from other parts of the body so that your body would be able to dilute the amount of salt molecules that are stored in the stomach. When the process goes on continuously, you would eventually dehydrate, which could lead to death. It could take only a few minutes or hours for the body to complete the process. This is one of the reasons why many people who drown in sea die.

Reverse osmosis is the exact opposite of the natural osmosis process. The idea is for the semi-permeable membrane to serve as a fine filter that would create safe and potable drinking water out of the contaminated water. This process could very much be illustrated through desalination. Salty water is stored in one side of a membrane, while the less salty is on the other. Pressure would be applied to stop and later reverse the natural osmotic process. Usually, this setup would require much pressure and would take a long time to complete. But there is no doubt that it would truly and effectively work.

Reverse osmosis is now widely used as a process of purifying water. It is also the same concept used in dialysis. Many industries are also starting to use reverse osmosis in their operations. Even disinfection activities could now use this helpful and useful process.

There is no doubt that in the future, many devices that facilitate the process would be more widely available for any household to use.

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