What is reverse osmosis?
Credit:DenGuyE+Getty Images
Q:

What is reverse osmosis?

A:

Quick Answer

Reverse osmosis occurs when concentrated water is pushed through a membrane to produce fresh water on the other side, according to About.com chemistry section. Reverse osmosis allows water molecules to pass from concentrated solutions to make fresh water, and it keeps foreign particles at bay.

 Know More

Full Answer

Reverse osmosis produces energy, treats waste-water and recycles liquids. This system is used in residential and commercial filtration. The process desalinates water and turns seawater into drinking water. For instance, the pressure pushes water molecules through the membrane, but the salt particles are too large to fit through the filtration, and this results in drinkable water on the other side.

Reverse osmosis filters out other impurities in water, such as excessive fluoridation and chemical deposits. The membrane allows the filtration of water molecules, but not larger molecules and ions. Other liquids, such as ethanol, can go through the same reverse osmosis process as water. The wine, dairy and maple syrup industries take advantage of reverse osmosis as well.

Reverse osmosis is also being looked upon as a solution to address overpopulation and global warming. The main disadvantages of reverse osmosis are that larger systems from water plants can trap fish, and the filtration systems tend to harbor bacteria. Reverse osmosis systems are expensive projects to commence, especially for developing nations.

Learn more about Biology

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the difference between diffusion and osmosis?

    A:

    Osmosis is a particular type of diffusion in which water crosses a semi-permeable membrane to an area with a greater solute concentration, whereas standard diffusion often allows the free movement of both solutes and solvent toward equilibrium. Diffusion in general is the net movement of molecules in solution from areas of higher concentration to areas of lower concentration. Osmotic pressure is potentially very powerful, with osmotic pressure being the only force necessary to move water from the roots to the tops of the tallest trees in the world.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are some types of scientists?

    A:

    The About.com chemistry section identifies hundreds of different kinds of scientists. For example, an actinologist is a person who studies the effect of light on chemicals, while an actinobiologist studies the effects of radiation on living things. Bacteriology is the study of bacteria, and climatology is the study of climate and its effects. Almost every letter of the alphabet is associated with at least one area of scientific study.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are the factors that affect rate of osmosis?

    A:

    The factors that affect the rate of osmosis are temperature, surface area, difference in water potential, pressure, concentration gradient and amount of light. These factors are affected by both the solvent, which is usually water, as well as the equipment used and semipermeable membrane.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How do cells control osmosis?

    A:

    Cells control osmosis through selective permeability. Selective permeability is the process whereby only certain molecules can enter or leave the cell membrane.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore