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Osmosis is a phenomenon where pure water flows from a dilute solution through a semi permeable membrane to a higher concentrated solution. Semi permeable means that the membrane will allow small molecules and ions to pass through it but acts as a barrier to larger molecules or dissolved substances. To illustrate this, assume that a semi permeable membrane is placed between two compartments in a tank. Assume the membrane is permeable to water, but not to salt. If we place a salt solution in one compartment and pure water solution in the other one, the system will try to reach equilibrium by having the same concentration on both sides of the membrane. The only possible way to do this is for water to pass from the pure water compartment to the saltwater compartment.
As water passes through the membrane to the salt solution, the level of liquid in the saltwater compartment will rise until enough pressure, caused by the difference in levels between the two compartments, is generated to stop the osmosis. This pressure, equivalent to a force that the osmosis seems to exert in trying to equalize concentrations on both sides of the membrane, is called osmotic pressure.
If pressure greater than the osmotic pressure is applied to the high concentration the direction of water flow through the membrane can be reversed. This is called reverse osmosis (abbreviated RO). Note that this reversed flow produces pure water from the salt solution, since the membrane is not permeable to salt.If pressure greater than the osmotic pressure is applied to the high concentration the direction of water flow through the membrane can be reversed. This is called reverse osmosis (abbreviated RO). Note that this reversed flow produces pure water from the salt solution, since the membrane is not permeable to salt.
How Does Reverse Osmosis Work?
Diffusion is the movement of molecules from a region of higher concentration to a region of lower concentration. Osmosis is a special case of diffusion in which the molecules are water and the concentration gradient occurs across a semi permeable membrane. The semi permeable membrane allows the passage of water, but not ions (e.g., Na+, Ca2+, Cl-) or larger molecules (e.g., glucose, urea, bacteria). Diffusion and osmosis are thermodynamically favorable and will continue until equilibrium is reached. Osmosis can be slowed, stopped, or even reversed if sufficient pressure is applied to the membrane from the ‘concentrated’ side of the membrane.Reverse osmosis occurs when the water is moved across the membrane against the concentration gradient, from lower concentration to higher concentration. To illustrate, imagine a semi permeable membrane with fresh water on one side and a concentrated aqueous solution on the other side. If normal osmosis takes place, the fresh water will cross the membrane to dilute the concentrated solution. In reverse osmosis, pressure is exerted on the side with the concentrated solution to force the water molecules across the membrane to the fresh water side.
What contaminants will Reverse Osmosis remove from water?Reverse Osmosis is capable of removing up to 99%+ of the dissolved salts (ions), particles, colloids, organics, bacteria and pyrogens from the feed water (although an RO system should not be relied upon to remove 100% of bacteria and viruses). An RO membrane rejects contaminants based on their size and charge. Any contaminant that has a molecular weight greater than 200 is likely rejected by a properly running RO system (for comparison a water molecule has a MW of 18). Likewise, the greater the ionic charge of the contaminant, the more likely it will be unable to pass through the RO membrane. For example, a sodium ion has only one charge (monovalent) and is not rejected by the RO membrane as well as calcium for example, which has two charges. Likewise, this is why an RO system does not remove gases such as CO2 very well because they are not highly ionized (charged) while in solution and have a very low molecular weight. Because an RO system does not remove gases, the permeate water can have a slightly lower than normal pH level depending on CO2 levels in the feed water as the CO2 is converted to carbonic acid.Reverse Osmosis is very effective in treating brackish, surface and ground water for both large and small flows applications. Some examples of industries that use RO water include pharmaceutical, boiler feed water, food and beverage, metal finishing and semiconductor manufacturing to name a few.RO Membrane CleaningRO membranes will inevitably require periodic cleaning, anywhere from 1 to 4 times a year depending on the feed water quality. As a general rule, if the normalized pressure drop or the normalized salt passage has increased by 15%, then it is time to clean the RO membranes. If the normalized permeate flow has decreased by 15% then it is also time to clean the RO membranes. You can either clean the RO membranes in place or have them removed from the RO system and cleaned off site by a service company that specializes in this service. It has been proven that offsite membrane cleaning is more effective at providing a better cleaning than onsite cleaning skids.RO membrane cleaning involves low and high pH cleaners to remove contaminants from the membrane. Scaling is addressed with low pH cleaners and organics, colloidal and biofouling are treated with a high pH cleaner. Cleaning RO membranes is not only about using the appropriate chemicals. There are many other factors involved such as flows, water temperature and quality, properly designed and sized cleaning skids and many other factors that an experienced service group must address in order to properly clean RO membranes.Benefits of reverse osmosis mechanism:
• Reverse Osmosis method gives a water taste better than others.
• After the water getting from the cleaning process of reverse osmosis has no contaminants.
• The reverse osmosis system consumes less amount of energy.
• Ro machine is small one compared to others so it is space saving one too.
• Ro system has a different level of purification.
• Ro system is one of the most economically system of purification.
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