Reverse Osmosis in Commercial ApplicationsBy John Davis - November 19, 2014
When you hear the term Reverse Osmosis, aka RO, the first thing you probably think of is an “under-the-sink” home water filtration system. And yes, there’s no doubt that residential RO systems are a popular choice for crisp clean home drinking water and have been for some time.
However, since the first modern RO membranes were developed in the 1960’s Reverse Osmosis technology has slowly garnered recognition as a leading method for desalinating and purifying water in many commercial and industrial settings as well.
Below are a few of the industries and commercial processes that commonly utilize RO technology and their common use cases;
The Food and Beverage Industry
Coffee Shops and Restaurants
Clean purified water is essential for a delicious cup of coffee or espresso. Plain tap water taste bad and is sure to turn away potential repeat customers, not to mention what it will do to the equipment. Lime scale deposits and build-up from untreated tap water will damage espresso machines as well as any type of equipment that heats water, and ice makers as well.
Bottled Water Companies
Reverse Osmosis, along with distillation, have become the primary methods used in today’s bottled water industry. Usually if you read the find print on your bottled water container it will list the purifying methods used.
Pharmaceutical Water for Injection
In the pharmaceutical industry makers must use water for injection (Water for Injection or WFI) and for cleaning that adhere to very strict guidelines, also known as United States Pharmacopeia (USP). Reverse Osmosis is an approved process for purifying water that meet these guidelines.
For more information on water used in the Pharmaceutical Industry you can visit US Pharmacopeia.cn
Boiler Feed Water to Create Power
- Thermal Power Plants
- Pulp & Paper Production
- Petrochemical and Electrochemical Processes
- Laundries and Cleaners
- Building Material Production
- Waste Disposal and Incineration
- Plastics Manufacturing
- Automotive Industry
- Steel Mills
- and many more…
These and other industries often require large amounts of energy, either – as in the case of power plants – to light up an entire city, or to perform whatever process they are engaged in, i.e. producing paper. However, electrical energy is often too expensive to use in such large quantities, so to combat this they will turn to boiling water and use steam to create the energy needed.
If impurities such as magnesium, calcium, aluminum, iron, and silica are present in the boiler’s feed water many issues can arise. As the water is heated these elements will compound and can create a damaging buildup known as scale both inside the boiler and also in the turbine pipes. In worst case scenarios where scale goes unnoticed it can cause ruptures in the boiler wall, forcing unexpected outages and costly repairs. Detrimental damage to the turbines can result as well.
At a very high-level, the semiconductor industry uses very precise procedures to produce packaged integrated circuits, or commonly known as chips or microchips.
These microchips are used in every electronic device we use today and as our computing devices have become smaller and more powerful, chips have also become smaller while containing more transistors, capacitors, and interconnections. Therefore, creating today’s chips can sometimes call for hundreds of steps and weeks to complete. These steps typically involve rinsing stages where residue has to be removed, if the rinse solution used contains any impurities it can render the chip completely useless.
This is where semiconductor manufactures will use Reverse Osmosis, along with other techniques, to create what is known as ultra-pure water. Ultra-pure water has been purified to the point that is can no longer be consumed by humans. It is said to taste more like acid and will actually strip your body of vital nutrients as opposed to replacing them. However, this is what is needed to rinse the silicon wafers to produce the highly precise microchips used in today’s electronic devices.
Municipal Waste Water
With fresh water becoming more of a concern for urbanized areas, municipalities are having to treat their waste water for reuse. Because Reverse Osmosis as become a such an energy efficient solution many municipalities are using it to recycle their local waste water to avoid local water shortages.
These are just some of the commercial and industrial situations where reverse osmosis can be used. Basically RO saves energy, uses less water, and protects equipment without using harsh or dangerous chemicals. If you are in need of boiler feed or purified water for almost any large scale commercial use, reverse osmosis should be one of your first options.
If you’re in the market for a reverse osmosis system for your business I highly recommend APEC Water based upon my personal experience, for a break down of their models click here. For more options, we also have a side-by-side comparison of some of the best commercial RO systems.
Environmental Journal – Use of Reverse Osmosis Increasing in Industrial Sector
SevernTrentServices – A Short Review on Process and Applications of Reverse Osmosis
PPRC.org – Semiconductor Manufacturing
What is Reverse Osmosis?
In it’s simplest form reverse osmosis is the process of using pressure to pass water from a more concentrated area through a semi-permeable membrane to a less concentrated area.
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