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  Reverse osmosis (RO) is a membrane-technology filtration method that removes many types of large molecules and ions from solutions by applying pressure to the solution when it is on one side of a selective membrane. The result is that the solute is retained on the pressurized side of the membrane and the pure solvent is allowed to pass to the other side.

Reverse osmosis is most commonly known for its use in drinking water purification from seawater, removing the salt and other substances from the water molecules.

History
The process of osmosis through semipermeable membranes was first observed in 1748 by Jean Antoine Nollet. In 1949, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) first investigated desalination of seawater using semipermeable membranes. Researchers from both UCLA and the University of Florida successfully produced fresh water from seawater in the mid-1950s. By the end of 2001, about 15,200 desalination plants were in operation or in the planning stages worldwide.
Sea water reverse osmosis (SWRO) is a reverse osmosis desalination membrane process that has been commercially used since the early 1970s. The Ashkelon seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination plant in Israel is the largest in the world.
 
   
     
  Process
A semipermeable membrane coil used in desalinization.

Osmosis is a natural process. When two liquids of different concentration are separated by a semi permeable membrane, the fluid has a tendency to move from low to high solute concentrations for chemical potential equilibrium.

The membranes used for reverse osmosis have a dense layer in the polymer matrix where most separation occurs. In most cases, the membrane is designed to allow only water to pass through this dense layer, while preventing the passage of solutes (such as salt ions). This process is best known for its use in desalination (removing the salt and other minerals from sea water to get fresh water), In reverse osmosis, pressure is applied to the compartment with high concentration. In this case, there are two forces influencing the movement of water: the pressure caused by the difference in solute concentration between the two compartments (the osmotic pressure) and the externally applied pressure.

Applications

Drinking water purification
Water and wastewater purification
Pretreatment
 
 
 
   
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