Reducing Reverse Osmosis Water Waste:
Wastewater is a by-product of the reverse osmosis water purification process. Even the best residential reverse osmosis systems will make almost 4 gallons of water brine for every one-gallon purified, while lower grade systems can waste as much as 8 gallons of water per gallon purified. Recently some companies have introduced "zero waste" reverse osmosis systems, which do not waste any water. These systems still produce brine water as a by-product of the reverse osmosis process, but can labeled as "zero waste" systems because the brine water is recycled; not flushed down the drain as wastewater.
The "Zero Waste" Reverse Osmosis System Process:
"Zero Waste" reverse osmosis systems come in two basic types:
The more advanced types of "zero waste" systems eliminate water waste by pumping the brine water into the hot water plumbing instead of down the drain. The drawback to this design is that the brine water injected into the hot water line can be discharged from your kitchen sink faucet on your hands, cooking, dishes, etc, and into your dishwasher.
The less advanced types of "zero waste" systems pumps the brine water back into the cold water line feeding the reverse osmosis unit. The downside to this design is that the additional concentrated brine water in the feed water will force the reverse osmosis system to work harder and wearing down system components more quickly resulting in more frequent filter changes and overall shorter system life. Both systems are effective at eliminating water waste but their downsides are significant.
The Permeate Pump: Alternative to Zero Waste?
While a permeate pump equipped reverse osmosis system will still waste water, it can reduce the amount of waste water by up to 80%. Furthermore the permeate pump equipped reverse osmosis system disposes of the brine water rather than injecting it back into the system where it can end up on your dishes, cooking, or back in the filtration system reducing system life. The permeate pump brings additional benefits beyond reduced water waste such as faster water production, prolonged system life when, and slightly cleaner water.
"Zero Waste" Pros & Cons:
+ No water waste
- Brine water discharge on hands, cooking or dishes; or Shortened system life and more frequent membrane changes
Permeate Pump Pros & Cons:
+ Improved system life and efficiency
+ Increased water production
+ Increased reserve tank holding capacity
+ Slightly cleaner water
- Some waste water
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