Since it was first introduced in the 1950s, reverse osmosis has been mainly used to purify water for potability. Over the last several years, there has been an increase in industrial applications for reverse osmosis because it has become more effective and cost-efficient.
Industrial Reverse Osmosis Applications
Below is a list of the most common and fastest growing industrial applications for reverse osmosis today:
Food & Beverage - Reverse osmosis is an effective method to purifying water for use in food processing and beverage production.
Metal Finishing - Reverse osmosis is an efficient method for the use in metal finishing operations such as copper, zinc, and nickel electroplating, nickel acetate seal, and black dye.
Pharmaceutical - Reverse osmosis is an approved treatment process for the production of United States Pharmacopeia (USP) grade water for pharmaceutical applications
Boiler Feed Water Treatment - The amount of solids is almost completely removed from the water with reverse osmosis before the water is fed into the boiler system.
Semiconductor - Reverse osmosis, used with other water treatment processes, produces ultrapure water that can be used in the production of microelectronics.
The Use of Reverse Osmosis in the Power Industry
The use of industrial reverse osmosis has grown rapidly throughout the industrial division, but in no application more quickly than in power generation. Worldwide, water treatment for power generation is estimated at more than 30% of all industrial water treatment sales.
Most electric power plants use gas, nuclear fuel, coal, or oil which creates steam that turns a turbine to create electricity. Any contamination in the steam causes problems in the boiler. This, in turn, reduces the amount of electricity that is able to be produced. This creates higher operational costs for the power plant and increases the amount of fuel that must be used to supply the required amount of electricity. In severe situations, contaminants in the process water can cause downtime and damage that will shut down the plant completely.
Previously, power producers have used a combination of flocculation, coagulation, and ion exchange resin beds to produce highly purified water for the use of creating steam. However, these technologies entail the use of hazardous chemicals, including caustic soda and sulfuric acid. Consequentially, many power plant operators are adopting industrial reverse osmosis systems as a water treatment technology because it does not involve the use of dangerous chemicals. Reverse osmosis also offers added cost and operational benefits.
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