Use of reverse osmosis (RO) water treatment systems has been gaining popularity among American homeowners and businesses.
RO technology has been used frequently in military operations, the hospitality industry and food production along with water and wastewater purification in a number of major cities across the country and around the world. As the technology has progressed and become cheaper, it has experienced widespread adoption. RO water treatment systems boast many benefits but chief among them is the molecular scale of filtration that the systems use to create potable water. We’ll look into what is a whole house reverse osmosis water filtration system and why we need one.
What is Reverse Osmosis?
Osmosis is defined as the net movement of solvent molecules through a semi-permeable membrane from a region of low solute concentration to higher solute concentration. Take saline solution (salt water) for instance. If you were to place a semi-permeable membrane (filter) upright into the middle of a glass of solution, the solvent (water) molecules would move from whichever side has a lower concentration of solute (salt) molecules to the side with a higher concentration. The pressure created by this movement is called osmotic pressure.
Reverse osmosis is opposite to the process of osmosis. RO uses external pressure to move the solvent (water) molecules through a semi-permeable membrane from an area of high solute concentration to an area of lower solute concentration. Thereby, filtering out the undesired molecules, ions, or larger particles.
What is a Whole House Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment System?
Many RO treatment methods involve point-of-use (POU) systems which are installed under a sink or used on a countertop. These systems exist only at the point from which the water is used. Whole house treatment systems (also called POE or point-of-entry systems) are tied into the main water line that supplies water to the house or business. The whole house method subjects the entire water supply to filtration, regardless of the water’s intended use.
How Does the System Work?
Whole house RO treatment systems are fairly simple and easy to maintain. They typically involve five main parts:
- A sediment filter to trap particles that include rust and calcium carbonate
- An activated carbon pre-filter that traps organic chemicals and chlorine (chlorine can degrade certain RO membranes)
- An RO filter, comprised of a thin film composite membrane
- An activated carbon post-filter to trap anything that may have passed through the RO filter
- A storage tank to accumulate treated water
Many systems incorporate the post carbon filter between the storage tank and the faucet as a final measure of filtration. Various systems also incorporate additional sediment and activated carbon filters in their designs. Any impurities trapped by filters are flushed out of the system through a drain.
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