Monday, November 17, 2014

Water Purification 101: RO Membranes and You

Purifying your home’s water supply can mitigate the risks posed by undesirable chemicals and minerals, as well as water-borne diseases. These days, quite a number of households rely on reverse osmosis (RO) water treatment systems to filter out contaminants. These systems render water safe for consumption by reversing its flow, as the name implies, as it passes through a semi-permeable membrane and filters.

RO membranes can either be cellulose acetate or polyamide membranes. Cellulose acetate membranes are layers of fibers—usually plant-based—that allow water to pass through and prevent bar salts from seeping through. These membranes, which are typically fashioned into sheets, are exceptionally durable except when exposed to highly acidic substances and extreme heat. Both factors can degrade the sheets and render them useless.

Polyamide membranes are similar in form to cellulose acetates, as they are also created in thin sheets. The difference lies in the capacity of polyamide membranes to withstand higher temperatures (up to 35 degrees Celsius) and their superior ability to resist damage due to bacterial buildup.

Choosing either of these two RO membranes for one’s water purifier depends on how badly the water supply needs purifying. More acidic water requires polyamide membranes, while highly salty water calls for cellulose acetate.

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