Technology News

Moving Forward with Reverse Osmosis

Water treatment plant manufacturers are adding significant value in many parts of the world, delivering solutions for water treatment problems so that communities can have access to clean water. Whether it be for sanitation, irrigation or drinking, clean water that will not harm human life or the environment is a necessity. Reverse osmosis water treatment plants have proven to be a particularly effective means of providing such clean-water solutions in many applicables, particularly with raw waters that have high dissolved solids content.

How does it work?

Simply put, reverse osmosis works by separating molecules and ions from their solutions. The solution in this case would be water, which is filtered through a semi-permeable membrane in order to remove dissolved inorganic solids such as salt. Reverse osmosis water treatment plants and systems have also proven to remove other harmful substances such as lead, pesticides, nitrates and sulfates, chlorine and more.

Applications known currently

When you buy bottled water (or refill your household canister) you will find that most of the brands you prefer make use of reverse osmosis water treatment plants. Water that has gone through reverse osmosis usually comes out near-tasteless and may require a remineralisation process to reintroduce minerals that the membranes remove, but this is largely dependent on the pressure of the reverse osmosis plant.

Another key application of modern reverse osmosis plants is their proven desalination capabilities. Since the membrane used in these systems has proven capable of removing salts from water, coastal nations and cities with severe potable water shortages started testing and proving the value of reverse osmosis water treatment plants for converting seawater into drinking water. One of the best examples of this in practice is the Ras Al Khair Plant on the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia. This plant was commissioned in April 2014 with the capacity to produce a staggering 728 million litres per day!

Humanitarian aid possibilities

The desalination aspect is of particular relevance in areas such as Saudi Arabia where there is access to seawater, but limited fresh water. Another location that has been in the news internationally with severe water shortages is Cape Town, South Africa. It has gotten to the point where there is a Day Zero plan to shut off the water supply to residential areas because the dams are depleted and there is currently no reliable large-scale access to desalination facilities to make use of the seawater which is right there, bordering the coastal city.

Desalination technology is widely proven around the world and it has its advantages and disadvantages like many technologies. But it needs to play a role in providing a sustainable clean water source together with reclamation of sewage water and the treatment of underground water which is often very brackish in nature and will require reverse osmosis.

With water treatment companies and manufacturers in Africa, like WEC Projects who are capable of supplying turnkey solutions, there is light at the end of the tunnel. We need of course to make available the funding, and ensure political support for the development of these projects.