Welcome to another Gordon Water Wisdom, a special series of the Richard Piet show, where we spend time with Tom Duisterhof at Gordon Water Systems talking about safe, clean drinking water and water systems, and things of that nature for your home and business. And you’ve heard over the last several episodes, we’ve referred to something called RO Reverse Osmosis Water Systems, and that will be our focus today. Hi, Tom.
Hello, Richard. I’m glad to be here today.
Well, welcome back. Glad you are. We’re glad reverse osmosis exists too. And this is a system of long standing, isn’t it? It’s a reliable system?
Reverse osmosis is a reliable technology, as I understand the history of RO water or systems, it came out of the space program back in the 60s and into the 70s, and even now technology today is very similar, but you can’t transport enough water up into space to keep people alive. So guess what they have to do? Boy, think about that for a second. Yeah, they have to clean it up. And so they take the water that they’ve used, a variety of different sources and they clean it up, and they concentrate up the things they don’t want and they reuse the nice, clean, safe water. So it’s got a long history.
Yeah, and you can’t take enough to space unless you’re going up quickly, like William Shatner or something.
Well, yeah, point made.
That’s not the typical case, is it? It is a stretch of time when you’re in space, and so the point is well taken that you need some kind of technology in order to make this work. But let’s bring it back to Earth now. How does an RO system work in our house?
Nicely done. Reverse osmosis systems, there are so many on the market available. You know, online, big-box stores, quality companies like Gordon Water Systems, there’s lots of options out there. Today’s topic, in all candor, is to help people make the best choice for their family and in their homes. Reverse osmosis systems without getting in too much detail and my engineering background, my previous life before Gordon Water of selling filtration into pharmaceuticals and other places. But it’s called tangential flow filtration TFF. And what that means is you’re moving water across the membrane and an RO membrane is a very nice, unique little membrane. It has a couple of layers. One is positively charged, one is negatively charged, and it has really small pore sizes or holes. And when I say pore sizes, I’m talking molecular type size. As water is moving across the membrane, water molecules are relatively small, 2 hydrogens and 1 oxygen, right H2O.
I seem to remember that.
That’s right. There you go. And those molecules are more easily passing through these small holes, if you will, in the membrane. Those small holes reject larger molecules. And because one layer is positive, one layer is negative, you can reject ions, ions are something that have a charge, like mineral salts. In simple terms, sodium chloride, chloride is negative, sodium is positive. Those two molecules get highly rejected along with many, many others in an RO system. So as we’re making clean, safe water, the water molecules that pass through the pours of the membrane, we’re also moving some water to drain. RO systems have improved dramatically as to their efficiencies. And so the amount of clean water we’re getting per gallon of water flowing through the system is much, much better than it was 20 years ago. Hmm. And so what we want to do, though, is capture those bits of clean, safe water that are coming through and an RO system makes water at a relatively slow rate. You know, I’ll say drip, drip, drip. There are some that are making it faster than that drip rate, and some are slower. So what are the things that you want to look for in an R0 system is, quite frankly, what is the membrane capacity? That’s the first thing you want to take a look at. Is this membrane a high rated capacity? And there’s membranes that are called high flux, low pressure, and that’s pretty much typically every residential system. When I say low pressure, it means the pressure coming into your home, either municipal or well. In industrial applications, we have pumps that we put it up to 100 and 200 psi and you’re doing industrial level things, sure. But low pressure membranes are your residential, and you want to see how many gallons per day it’s rated for. A lot of your lower cost ones, those might be 12 or 15 gallons per day rating, and you’ve got to be careful of those lower rating ones because they’re not going to remake the water. You might get water out first thing in the morning, but if you do anything in the morning with making juice or coffee, a pot of coffee or something, now you’ve got to make that water again and put it into the storage tank, the small reverse osmosis storage tank. If you have a low production, it could be some time you could run out of water. And so you want to take a look at the production rate. What’s the membrane rated at, like our systems, 25 gallons per day is our smaller one. And quite frankly, the Kinetico K5 membrane is rated at 75 gallons per day. Oh my. And so it’s a certainly a higher capacity RO membrane. That’s one thing you want to look at is, what’s the capacity of the membrane? The other thing is, where is this coming from? Does it have a warranty? Who’s going to support you with it? There are some things internal to an RO system. They’re relatively simple, but there are pressure balancing valves and check valves and things. So there are internal components to an RO system, that if something fails, you don’t want to be left high and dry. So take a look at the quality. If you’re looking online, look for reviews and lots of them. If you’re looking for a companies, look for longevity, how long have they been doing this and what are the reviews look like?
This just popped in my head as you were talking about this. What’s a typical application for an RO system? Is that going to be a residence? Is it going to be a business, either one and are there certain conditions you’re looking for to qualify for an RO?
Yeah, we do a lot in residential and we do some in businesses. And what I mean by a business application, I’m not talking industrial for production or producing parts. I mean for drinking clean water in the office or in a warehouse. Many times due to other limitations from the building within the building, we might do just a high quality carbon filter. Some will install an RO system and then we can feed a bottleless cooler. We can feed their coffee machine, we can feed the refrigerator if it has water in it. So we do that as well. But by far and away, the majority of our drinking water RO systems are residential. And yeah, and so, you know, we’ve got capacity, you’ve got companies you want to be comfortable working with. And as you heard me talk earlier about the rate of production drip, drip, drip. There are storage tanks, drinking water storage tanks, and the standard has been a 2-1/2 to 3 gallon storage tank with air on one side of a rubber bladder and the drinking water stored on the other side. And as you open the faucet, a designated reverse osmosis drinking water faucet, that storage tank, the air pressure will push out the water into your glass, your pot, your pitcher, whatever you’re filling. That technology has been around for many years, and we carry a couple of systems like that.
Sure. The thing is, as that water is being drawn out of the storage tank, the air is losing its ability to push. So right away you can get good flow. But 30 seconds or a minute later, you’re going, Oh, this is starting to peter out or it’s not flowing as fast, and that’s just the technology. It’s the way it is. That’s something to be aware of, because I tell people your experience with your RO system in your home is really going to be defined by how fast does it fill your glass, the pot where you’re going to make rice or pasta. Quite frankly, I use mine to rinse fruits and vegetables. I rinse my apples and wipe them off with a paper towel, I use RO water. So the speed at which water comes out of the RO faucet, oddly enough, is the single largest motivating factor. When I ask people, they say, we kind of like an RO system, but we had one before and I said, What? What did you like about it? What did you not like about? Well, we like having clean water, but it just was slow and I said, Yep, I get it, and we’ve got ways to overcome that. Another technology is what’s called water over water, meaning we’re using the house pressure again, whether city or, well, we put that soft water behind the rubber bladder instead of air.
So for the entire time you open that faucet, you’re getting your house pressure, pushing your clean drinking water out. So. Wow, it never diminishes so that 2-1/2 gallons you get out and the K5 is rated at a gallon and a half a minute. It’s flowing the whole time. The cool thing about something like the K5 is with that 75 gallon a day membrane and the technology built in with the water over water tank, it refills very quickly. And so if you have guests or you’re doing a lot of cooking. You know, a big pot of pasta or something, you might get very close to depleting the storage tank. The nice thing with in the example of the Kinetico K5 is it’s going to refill very quickly. So if you filled a pitcher and all the glasses around the Thanksgiving or Christmas table and you’ve used a lot of water? Guess what? You start dinner and you need to fill something else. All of a sudden, you’ve got a whole bunch more water available because of the production rate. So aside from all the technology in a system, I just really stress to people the flow rate at the faucet and how quickly you can make up when you do use a large amount of water. Super important. Super important.
So ask these questions as you begin to evaluate whether or not an RO system is for you and consult experts like Tom and his team at Gordon Water Systems because they know these systems. And obviously they have the considerations in mind that you should be thinking about as you get these answers and they can give you the answers.
In the show notes, click the link to Gordon Water Systems’ website and reach out to them and ask them for their advice about an RO system in your home or any of the other considerations that they have for you at Gordon Water Systems. Gordon Water Wisdom, a continuing series of the Richard Piot show.
Thank you, Tom. We’ll check in soon.