Industrial Reverse Osmosis

Industrial Reverse Osmosis

Industrial Reverse Osmosis Water System

Industrial reverse osmosis is a highly effective industrial water treatment process that can reduce 97-99% of total dissolved solids (TDS) in water. Industrial reverse osmosis (also referred to as industrial RO) works by applying pressure with a pump to a solution with a high concentration of dissolved solids, causing water from the concentrated solution to pass through the membrane.

Industrial RO systems vary in their capacity, footprint, design, and cost, so calculating the correct size industrial reverse osmosis system is important. The proper use of an industrial reverse osmosis system can protect production purity, product quality, and equipment longevity. RO systems that are too small can lead to water that does not meet the process requirements, while RO systems that are too large can waste money and valuable space.

Industrial reverse osmosis (RO) is utilized for processes in food & beverage, power generation, boiler feeds, oil & gas, high-purity water generation, central sterilization, and manufacturing. See the free industrial RO sizing calculators below for various industries and applications.

Which Industries Use Industrial Reverse Osmosis (RO)?

Industries and commercial facilities that typically use industrial reverse osmosis (RO) include:

  • pharmaceuticals
  • dairy
  • semiconductors
  • manufacturing
  • factories
  • power generation
  • labs
  • medical
  • research
  • food and beverage
  • oil and gas
  • correctional facilities
  • universities
  • hospitals
  • hotels

There are numerous applications for industrial reverse osmosis systems beyond these mentioned. Contact the Industrial Water Solutions technical support team with your specific water needs and questions.

How Is the Proper Size of an Industrial Reverse Osmosis System?

Industrial reverse osmosis systems can process a broad range of volumes, but you must have the proper capacity for the industrial RO used. How do you determine the correct size of a reverse osmosis system to use? Use the free industrial reverse osmosis calculator from Industrial Water Solutions to calculate your RO needs and find the correct commercial or industrial reverse osmosis equipment for your application. Industrial Water Solutions offers industrial reverse osmosis water systems from 0-432,000 GPM.

Try the Free Industrial Reverse Osmosis Sizing Calculator

What Else is Needed for an Industrial Reverse Osmosis System?

Industrial reverse osmosis systems can be packaged to be ready to use at your facility. Keep in mind that industrial RO is not simply one piece of equipment. It is truly a reverse osmosis “system” that incorporates many different industrial RO components. While these components are in line with the RO, they precede the reverse osmosis unit, removing impurities that could quickly degrade the RO effectiveness or damage the RO unit. Adding these industrial reverse osmosis precursors can save money by reducing maintenance costs and downtime while extending the life of the industrial reverse osmosis system and the equipment that follows. Examples of equipment, chemicals, or other elements that may be important to include in your industrial reverse osmosis system include:

  • Pumps
  • Storage Tanks
  • Pretreatment
  • Carbon filters
  • Sediment filters
  • Industrial water softeners
  • Chemical feeds
  • Anti-scalent
  • Sodium Bi-sulfate / sodium metabisulfite
  • Exchange DI tanks
  • UV systems
  • Filters (e.g. .2 Micron filters)

In addition, post-treatment of the industrial water that has been RO-treated may be desirable to create water that is uniquely suited for your downstream process. This may be particularly important for food & beverage and pharmaceutical manufacturing, but other environments will also benefit from post-RO treatment.

How Does Industrial Reverse Osmosis (RO) Work?

Industrial reverse osmosis (industrial RO) is a highly effective water treatment process for reducing up to 99% of dissolved mineral salts, organics, and other particles by forcing water under pressure through a semi-permeable membrane. The process is named “reverse osmosis” because it is the opposite of the natural osmotic process, where water from a solution with a low concentration of dissolved solids travels through a membrane seeking to dilute a higher concentration solution. A reverse osmosis water system is induced by applying pressure with a pump to a solution with a high concentration of dissolved solids, causing water from the concentrated solution to pass through the membrane. This water is referred to as product water. Dissolved solids do not pass through the membrane; they are continually flushed to drain as waste. This flushing action also keeps the membrane surface from fouling or scaling.

What are the Industrial Reverse Osmosis (RO) Water System Performance Factors?

There are several factors that affect the performance of an industrial reverse osmosis application:

  1. Pressure: A minimum threshold of pressure must initially be reached to overcome the natural osmotic pressure. Flux (the rate at which the membrane makes product water) increases as pressure is increased. A practical limit exists because salt rejection does not continually improve as pressure increases. The result can be scaling or fouling problems.
  2. Temperature: Membrane flux is very dependent on temperature. If the temperature increases and pressure remains constant, water production increases. Unfortunately, higher temperatures also result in a drop-off in salt rejection due to an increase in the diffusion rate for salt ions through the membrane. RO units are volume rated at 77°F.
  3. Recovery: The percent of feedwater converted to the product water. A practical limit exists for the recovery rate – too high of a rate requires a more concentrated waste stream, which increases the likelihood of membrane fouling as salt precipitates and forms scale on the membrane surface.
  4. Pretreatment/Posttreatment: The need for additional water treatment steps either before or after the RO process varies, depending on water conditions and quality requirements. If raw water contains chlorine, hardness, iron, turbidity, and high total dissolved solids, then pretreatment should be considered to extend membrane life and improve system performance. If water quality requirements require ultra-pure or sterilized water, then posttreatment steps should be considered.

What are Typical Applications for Industrial Reverse Osmosis Water Systems?

Reverse osmosis is typically used for boiler feed/makeup water, chemical process water, cosmetics, drinking water, electronics, food, and beverage processing, horticulture, humidification, ice making, laboratories, manufacturing process water, metal finishing, pharmaceutics, photographic processing, printing, and vehicle washes. All of these industrial water applications could benefit from the installation of an Industrial Water Solutions reverse osmosis system.

Do You Need Industrial Water System Repair Service or Water Testing?

Learn about water testing and analysis for reverse osmosis (RO) systems.  Contact us right now at or 800-820-9021 if you need industrial reverse osmosis repair services, preventative maintenance, or would like a quote on an industrial reverse osmosis system.

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