What Is Reverse Osmosis Filtration?
Reverse osmosis is one of the most effective forms of water filtration because unlike chemical or carbon filtration systems, which use certain materials to attract or directly target the contaminants in the water, reverse osmosis works by pushing water through a microscopically small filter material.
This semi-permeable membrane has a pore size of around 0.0001 microns, effectively only allowing the small water molecules through and catching any larger molecules of contaminants, organic materials or even salt. Originally designed to desalinate seawater and reduce high chemical contaminant material such as heavy metals, reverse osmosis is now in use in many government, commercial, military and even residential applications.
Remove up to 99% of contaminants found in drinking water
Vincent Plumbing uses the most advanced reverse osmosis system, four stages of enhanced filtration to filter out up to 99% of the contaminants that standard filtration leaves behind so you won’t have to worry about harmful things like nitrates, arsenic or lead making it to your faucet.
How Does Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration Work?
Normally, osmosis is the process by which molecules will pass through a membrane from a weaker-concentrated solution into a stronger-concentrated solution until both solutions are of the same concentration. Reverse osmosis is still the same fundamental osmosis process, it simply involves adding higher pressure to move the water molecules out of the stronger solution (the contaminated water) and into the weaker solution (the pure water).
Because of the microscopic pores on the semi-permeable membrane filter, reverse osmosis can not only remove the obvious, visual contaminants such as sediment and larger organic material, but it can also even remove dissolved substances from within the water. Because of how effective this water filtration treatment is, reverse osmosis will even remove beneficial minerals present in water, meaning many reverse osmosis systems will run the water back across mineral beds to add those positive minerals back into the water.
Unlike other types of water filtration, reverse osmosis does not require thermal energy but instead uses an incredibly high amount of pressure. For example, brackish water, which is saltier than fresh water but not as salty as seawater (think bays and estuaries), will require between 200 and 400 pressure-per-square-inch (psi) to push it through a reverse osmosis membrane and remove the salt. Remember that brackish water is less salty than seawater. For reference, the average water pressure in a suburban American home is between 40 and 45 psi.
Benefits of Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration
With nearly two million Americans living without basic access to safe drinking water and another 40% of Americans further filtering tap water at home, water filtration systems have become an important part of many U.S. households.
Though a massive number of cities and towns already use reverse osmosis systems for municipal water and in most places in the U.S. tap water is safe to drink, many homeowners seek additional water purification to make sure the water they drink is safe. Some of the benefits of a reverse osmosis water filtration system include:
1. Reverse Osmosis Filters Nearly All Contaminants
Unlike other forms of water filtration, reverse osmosis is considered one of the most all-around effective ways of eliminating water contaminants. Even residential-grade reverse osmosis filters can remove up to 99% of lead, asbestos and 82 other additional contaminants. Reverse osmosis systems have ended boil water advisories in communities across the world by safely treating the drinking water where traditional water filtration systems did not work.
The microscopic nature of a reverse osmosis filter membrane can filter out not only the larger contaminants most water filtration systems catch, but it can actually remove dissolved substances and minerals from within the water. This is because the membrane essentially strips the water down to basic molecules as it passes through.
2. Significantly Better for the Environment and Safer than Bottled Water
For communities for which the only other option for drinking water comes from disposable plastic bottles, reverse osmosis may be a safer and more environmentally friendly option. Though reverse osmosis wastes a lot of water (see disadvantages below), piling plastic water bottles up in landfills and polluting during the production of plastic may not be any better.
The quality of water in bottled water has been put into question in the last few years because while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strictly regulates and supervises the quality of tap water, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has much lighter restrictions on bottled water.
3. Mineral-Less Water May Be Necessary for Certain Uses
While the ultra-purified reverse osmosis water may be more than necessary for households already provided with clean tap water, certain water uses may benefit from water filtered through reverse osmosis. For example, chefs have noticed water filtered with reverse osmosis make cooking taste better since it lacks the presence of minerals, including municipally-added fluoride.
Pet owners who raise fish and/or coral in home aquariums may want to invest in reverse osmosis systems to only give aquatic pets the purest water, free of human contaminants or added minerals.