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Let us say we have a solution that contains a solute.


    Osmosis is the process of spontaneous (net) movement of solvent molecules (across) through a semi-permeable membrane into a region of higher solute concentration.  Thus the solute concentration on both sides of the membrane are attempted to be equalized.

     In this process the solvent particles must move across the semi-permeable membrane.  The solute particles do not move.   The process of Osmosis is a physical process and is dependent on the pressures on the solutions on either side.  Finally, the process attains an equilibrium.

    The permeability through the membrane depends on the size, charge, solubility and some chemical properties of solute and solvent molecules.
  Osmosis plays an important role in the biological processes in our body.  Water, Oxygen, Nitrogen etc. are permeable through biological membranes.    Osmosis occurs naturally.

Reverse Osmosis

       In this process we try to separate the solute from solvent.   We use the reverse of the Osmosis process.   We use high pressure to force the solvent through the semi-permeable membrane to go towards the side that contains less concentration of the solute.  The pressure exerted is more than the Osmotic pressure.

    Reverse Osmosis (RO) is a well known method or technology for purification of water to make it potable.  Here the high pressure is created by a chemical potential (with a battery).  Thus some ions, impurities including harmful bacteria are removed by using a semi permeable membrane.

   Reverse Osmosis is based on the mechanism or process of diffusion of solvent molecules.  The efficiency process is dependent on the pressure, solute concentration and water flow rate.

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