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What is a Reverse Osmosis (RO) plant?

Updated: Jan 2, 2023

Did you know the reverse osmosis (RO) systems market is expected to witness a compound annual growth rate of 7.26% to grow to US $12.027 billion by 2026?

RO systems are gaining popularity across the world as an advanced and effective method of water treatment. This push comes in light of growing freshwater scarcity due to the increase in water-borne diseases, industrial applications, and the number of manufacturing units.

But what exactly is reverse osmosis? How does it work? Can it benefit you?

In this article, we’ll take you through the different applications of an RO system and help you understand the various stages involved in the purification process.

What is Reverse Osmosis?

Reverse osmosis (RO) is a water purification process wherein the water is passed under high pressure through semi-permeable membranes to separate and remove ions, unwanted molecules, and larger particles. Today, it is used extensively to purify water for industrial, residential, commercial and scientific purposes.

In the natural osmosis process, less concentrated liquid (salt water or seawater) flows towards the direction of higher concentration (more saline water). In reverse osmosis, however, the opposite flow is achieved by applying external pressure. High-pressure pumps push water through a semi-permeable membrane causing the salts to be left behind, and freshwater to move to the other side.

What are the stages involved in Reverse Osmosis?

RO systems can vary based on the volume of water required, the number of membranes used, energy efficiency, and other technical specifications. However, a typical RO water purifying system will have three stages:

  1. Pre-filtration

  2. Reverse Osmosis

  3. Post-Treatment / Chemical Treatment

Stage 1: Pre-filtration

Feed water is introduced into the RO Water Maker with the help of a feed pump or an available pressure line existing on board. At this point, the seawater could have a TDS of up to 45,000ppm and can contain both organic and inorganic contaminants.

The pre-treatment method reduces the level of suspended solids like grit, algae, and silt in the water. Feed water, if not correctly pre-treated, could clog RO membranes, resulting in cost escalations from the frequent replacement of components. At Advanced WaterTek, we can design the feed water to pass multiple levels of pre-treatment, viz. Multimedia filtration, Cartridge filtration, or Disc filtration, depending on the concentration and type of contaminants.

An antiscalant can also be added before water passes on to the next stage, to control the scaling of the RO membrane.

Stage 2: Reverse Osmosis

The Reverse Osmosis (RO) process is the heart of any RO Water Maker. In this stage, water is passed at high pressure through RO membranes which segregate salts, leaving behind clean water for the next stage.

RO Membranes and the high-pressure pump are key components of this stage of water purification. RO Membranes are housed in a fiberglass pressure vessel called an RO pressure vessel, specifically designed to contain the membrane, and withstand high pressures.

Stage 3: Post-Treatment/ Chemical Treatment

At this stage, water is treated to disinfect and balance its pH level before being used for drinking or other applications.

What are the uses and applications of Reverse Osmosis (RO) plants?

Reverse osmosis (RO) is a commonly used water treatment method in various industries. From small household filters for domestic use to large-scale industrial RO plants, Reverse osmosis can be used for the desalination of water in varied industries.

Offshore vessels use reverse osmosis to desalinate seawater for drinking and other applications. The machine used on board an offshore vessel is commonly called a Water Maker.

Food and Beverage manufacturing units use reverse osmosis to remove impurities from their water supply. RO plants treat ground or seawater and convert it to clean water fit to be pumped into their manufacturing process.

The agriculture industry requires RO plants on farms to remove salt from the water before it is used for crops.

Other industries that commonly use RO plants are construction, commercial and residential complexes, and animal farms and fisheries.

Discover state-of-the-art Reverse Osmosis Systems with Advanced WaterTek

Advanced Watertek has been a leading provider of energy-efficient RO systems and water makers to generate safe and clean water for drinking and other applications. Our high-quality components and conservative designs are designed to withstand the toughest conditions and deliver consistent results for years to come.

We’ve catered to a variety of industries in over 50 countries. These include oil and gas offshore, oil and gas onshore, marine, food and beverage, mining, and hospitality.

Whether you’re looking for a new water purification system or maintenance of your existing one, talk to our experts to find the right solution for your needs.

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