Reverse osmosis is a method of liquid filtration that removes larger molecules from smaller molecules by forcing the liquid through a membrane. The process usually involves high pressure and a membrane with holes that will only allow the smaller particles to pass through. Jean Antoine Nollet first described reverse osmosis in 1748. Studies led to the production of freshwater from seawater in the 1950s, and today over 10,000 desalination plants are in operation worldwide with a combined capacity of over 35 million cubic meters per day. Reverse osmosis should not be confused with filtration or straining. Reverse osmosis uses pressure, 600 to 1,000 pounds per square inch (psi), to achieve the osmotic process and therefore is known as the “reverse” of normal osmosis.

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