Now that we know how Reverse Osmosis as a process works, let's take that and apply it to a real, working Reverse Osmosis System. If it only needed the membranes and a pump, it certainly wouldn't be so big, right?
A) Raw Water Storage Tank
Although some Reverse Osmosis Systems can draw water right out of a well or pipe feed, most Reverse Osmosis Systems start with a large tank that stores the contaminated water. Not having enough feed water can damage a pump, so having a large storage tank for your intake water is an easy way to make sure your pump lasts for as long as possible.
B) Feed Water Pump
A commercial or industrial pump provides the initial pressure for the Reverse Osmosis System. This motor usually provides enough water pressure to get through any pretreatment as well as the reverse osmosis membranes, but if it doesn't a booster pump may be necessary farther down the line.
C) Multi-Layer Filter
As much as we hate to admit it, there are some things that reverse osmosis can't purify. Nitrates, a common contaminant found in fertilizers and animal waste, are a good example of particles that dissolve too well in water for reverse osmosis to catch them. Things like foul odor and taste usually aren't prevented by reverse osmosis, either. A Multi-Layer filter can be filled with media that specifically targets the things your Reverse Osmosis System can't catch. If you need to eliminate these contaminants, a Multi-Layer Filter is a must.
D) Chemical Dosing System
Strong acids and bases can reduce the effectiveness of the membrane elements of a Reverse Osmosis System, or in some circumstances destroy them entirely. New chemicals may need to be introduced to your intake water to nullify these hazardous chemicals and preserve the life of your membrane elements. Chemical dosing is also an effective cleaning system for a Reverse Osmosis system, dramatically increasing the lifespan of membrane elements.
E) Reverse Osmosis System
We finally have our Reverse Osmosis System. If a booster pump is necessary, it will typically be just before this step. The Reverse Osmosis System can produce up to one million gallons of product water a day from a steady intake, as well as a sizable amount of waste. Usually the waste water can be dumped down the drain, but check with your local water authorities in case it needs to be handled with care.
F) Product Water Storage Tank
The permeate from the Reverse Osmosis System will usually go to a large tank, where it is held for use. If it didn't, the Reverse Osmosis System would need to be running in order to have access to fresh water, which can be inconvenient. Sometimes, a Reverse Osmosis System pumps water directly into a well or aquifer for recharging instead of being used in many of the normal industries or applications it is used in.