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Is Reverse Osmosis Bad for Our Health? May 11, 2014

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Although reverse osmosis offers clean water the health concerns that hound the filtered water still remains an issue today. Those who sell reverse osmosis products would argue otherwise and insist that they have no health related concerns regarding the water that passed through the filtration process.

But recent studies have shown that reverse osmosis can be bad for our health or at the very least is not really guaranteed as manufacturers or users of the system have claimed. The main reason behind this conclusion is that reverse osmosis is able to filter the natural minerals that water contains. These minerals apparently are quite important to our body and contribute a lot to our health.

Reverse osmosis works by forcing a solvent by applying pressure from an area of high solute concentration through a semi-permeable membrane to an area of low solute concentration. By doing so, the membrane allows the water being pushed by the pressure to pass through and prevents larger particles such as salt, for example in seawater. The reverse osmosis system actually uses several numbers of stages which incorporates combinations of various kinds of filters.

The first layer of filter usually uses a sediment type which prevents rust and calcium carbonate to pass through. An activated carbon filter is then next. With this one organic chemicals and chlorine are trapped. The water then passes through a reverse osmosis filter made up of thin composite membrane. Then after that one would find another layer carbon filter which is there to ensure that any particles that was able to push their way through is prevented from going further.

You can now see clearly where the reverse osmosis process has “overdone” the filtering. Unlike carbon filters, reverse osmosis removes any molecules larger than water from passing through. Unfortunately, the naturally occurring minerals are larger than water molecules which therefore are trapped by the reverse osmosis membrane.

And what’s more unfortunate is the fact that harmful substances like those found in fertilizer and pesticide runoffs are smaller than water molecules and so are just able to pass through the membrane quite easily. These contaminants are known to cause cancer and other degenerative diseases and should be the ones being filtered out. Some studies have found out that reverse osmosis is unable to filter more than 2,000 toxins found in tap water.

Aside from the health issue, wastage is also a problem with reverse osmosis. The process actually wastes a lot of water. For a gallon of purified water, around two or three gallons are being wasted and cannot be recycled.

Nonetheless, if drinking water produced from reverse osmosis is not as healthy as one might thing, other uses of reverse osmosis has proven to be quite effective. People undergoing kidney dialysis uses water from reverse osmosis to remove waste products in the body. The pharmaceutical industry also uses reverse osmosis in the various process of drug manufacturing.

However, despite the advantages reverse osmosis might have it is apparent that other kinds of water treatment offer better alternatives in producing clean, drinking water. Indeed, reverse osmosis can be bad for our health and it would be better to settle with newer and more advanced ways of water purification.

These newer systems leave minerals intact and instead remove all the organic and synthetic pollutants like those in pesticides, fertilizers and household cleansers.


Review of Osmosis to Explain Reverse Osmosis May 10, 2014

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Have you heard about reverse osmosis? It should truly be a useful and advantageous process of liquid purification because more and more industries are using it. Around the world, the importance of reverse osmosis is also becoming more emphasized. As many experts say, the process holds a lot of potential. It could be a system that could eventually bring about aid and redemption. But what exactly is it? Why is it truly effective? Could it be done using improvised setups? How does it work?

It would just be impossible to understand reverse osmosis without first understanding normal osmosis, where it is derived from. As you could infer, reverse osmosis is only an opposite take of the usual process of osmosis. The dictionary defines osmosis as a natural movement of solvent molecules through semi-permeable membranes so that they could transfer into the side where there is there is lower concentration of solution. In the process, concentration on different sides is equalized so that in the end, there would be no difference on concentration. Osmosis naturally stops the moment such equality of concentration is achieved.

Semi-permeable membranes are membranes that are serving as boundaries between two regions. They are structures where molecules could pass through. Example is a saran wrap, which looks impermeable but is actually permeable. Other good examples are cell walls and intestines. There are very small pores that could allow entry of very miniscule molecules of water. Such pores are too small that they do not allow passage of other liquid molecules and other bodies. Gore-tex fabric could also be an example.

In reality, osmosis is the very same reason why consuming or drinking salty water is very dangerous. Drinking seawater or ocean water could kill anyone, especially if there is much volume consumed. When you do so, the salty water would be temporarily stored into the stomach. Natural osmotic pressure would work and begin drawing water from other parts of the body so that your body would be able to dilute the amount of salt molecules that are stored in the stomach. When the process goes on continuously, you would eventually dehydrate, which could lead to death. It could take only a few minutes or hours for the body to complete the process. This is one of the reasons why many people who drown in sea die.

Reverse osmosis is the exact opposite of the natural osmosis process. The idea is for the semi-permeable membrane to serve as a fine filter that would create safe and potable drinking water out of the contaminated water. This process could very much be illustrated through desalination. Salty water is stored in one side of a membrane, while the less salty is on the other. Pressure would be applied to stop and later reverse the natural osmotic process. Usually, this setup would require much pressure and would take a long time to complete. But there is no doubt that it would truly and effectively work.

Reverse osmosis is now widely used as a process of purifying water. It is also the same concept used in dialysis. Many industries are also starting to use reverse osmosis in their operations. Even disinfection activities could now use this helpful and useful process.

There is no doubt that in the future, many devices that facilitate the process would be more widely available for any household to use.

Desalination through Reverse Osmosis Get More Demand Worldwide May 9, 2014

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Countries in the Middle East are known for being oil-rich. But because they are mostly located in vast deserts, there is a logical and practical shortage of potable or drinking water for people. Desalination has been one of the most important activities in such countries. It involves the process of reverse osmosis. Currently, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates are among the biggest desalination markets. In general, more than a hundred countries worldwide also operate desalination facilities, but it is in those Middle East nations where demand is much more significant.

Continuous proliferation of basic desalination facilities has effectively created an $8 billion global market. It is expected and anticipated that there would still be rapid growth of demand for desalination. This is not surprising because many nations are now experiencing shortages in drinking water supply. Not only are the desert countries in peril of water shortage. Now, Spain, China, Australia, and several states in the United States are also being bogged by the problem. In such countries, growing population has effectively outgrown basic and native water supplies.

Contemporary thermal procedures for water purification use reverse osmosis. These include MED or multiple effect distillation and MSF or multi-stage flash distillation. Both are highly reliable and are effective in producing significantly purer water from even the saltiest water sources. The only setback identified as of the moment is that such processes consume very huge amount of energy. This could not be a problem in oil-rich nations, where there is much supply of energy to spare. But how about in countries where supply of available energy is limited?

Other membrane-based technologies in saltwater desalination are getting more popular and useful across the rapidly expanding desalination market. Reverse osmosis systems using membranes are the technology of choice for purifying brackish water. SWRO or seawater reverse osmosis is now becoming the fastest growing niche in the desalination market worldwide for several practical reasons. First, most countries are tending to use seawater as a good source of water for purification. The world is two-thirds water, as you know.

Second, SWRO has been the most widely used and proven effective means of desalination. Membrane desalination has been known to be able to supply the fastest demand for safe potable water. Reverse osmosis techniques are expected to further account for a greater capacity for desalination globally. Many different technologies are being developed to be integrated with and to complement the current reverse osmosis measures. It is not surprising that most industries and governments give more priority and importance to RO facilities.

Seawater is easier to secure. There could be many convenient ways on how reverse osmosis facilities could get access to a vast and unlimited supply of seawater, whether they are in coasts or are in deserts. The supply of seawater could also not end, because as mentioned, the surface of the planet is about 70% water.

In the future, it is expected that many more advanced reverse osmosis technologies would arise. Most nations are hopeful that in the coming years, drinking water shortage would not be a problem anymore. Science should be commended for discovering and inventing many technologies for reverse osmosis.

The process could be relatively slow but it could yield the best and safest results.

New Method Developed to Make Reverse Osmosis Cheaper May 7, 2014

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A research team from the University of California in Los Angeles has announced preliminary feasibility testing for a new mobile pilot system that would make reverse osmosis significantly cheaper. The system, called M3, would be able to determine whether fresh water could be extracted effectively from any water source. This could help make the process of desalination much easier and practically cheaper especially within developing nations.

Desalination is a widely used process of purifying seawater or even brackish water to produce potable water that is safer for drinking and consumption of people. The process is massively used in about a hundred countries globally, with nations in the Middle East and other desert areas as the heaviest users. It is also becoming popular in other nations where growing population has depleted available potable water sources, like in Australia, China, Spain, and several states in the US. Desalination is effective, but it is at the same time very costly.

Reverse osmosis is a water filtration technique that is done through applying force so that water could pass though semi-permeable membranes. This way, impurities are filtered out and water is purified. The process is not a fast one, but it could be among the best ways to assure safety and effectiveness of produced potable water. The M3 system is specifically designed and used to significantly lower costs of desalination and reverse osmosis.

In the usual process, a static pilot facility should be constructed within or close to any water source. The plant carries activities to test quality of water and then assess strategies for pretreatment of water. Pretreatment is necessary in removing impurities before such substances pollute and corrupt reverse osmosis membranes. In general, this conventional practice is costly. Cleaning and replacing the membranes means the desalination plant should be entirely shut down, which is counter-productive.

Its developers claim that the portable and flexible nature of M3 means that any nation or government that is into desalination could invest in a system to use it in initially testing every potential water source. This could significantly help save time and money. Researchers are positive that the mobile system would truly be useful especially to many system providers that require similar tests at multiple sites to make sure contamination of reverse osmosis membranes would be effectively prevented.

Such mobile pilot facilities, which could even fit into any standard cargo van, could be helpful in developing nations that are considering using reverse osmosis for water quality testing and production. A standard M3 unit could produce up to 5,000 gallons of purified water out of seawater in a day. It could produce up to 8,000 gallons of safe drinking water out of brackish water. Thus, the mobile water purifying system could be deemed effective and useful even in emergency situations.

Several experts are also hoping M3 could be able to reverse the current stand or Water Aid against reverse osmosis. The safe water advocacy organization is not usually recommending the use of reverse osmosis technologies for water treatment because such systems are usually very costly and tedious.

To many, M3 could be good news as it has the potential to make purified water from reverse osmosis more affordable and available especially across third world or developing countries, where people could not usually afford paying for safer potable water.

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