7 Difference between Ultrafiltration and Reverse Osmosis (With Table)

Every community across the world is entitled to clean water for drinking and other domestic purposes. Water purification has become the most crucial process in this situation. 

The process of water purification involves biological, chemical, and physical procedures. The most common water purification processes are ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis. 

So, what is the main difference between ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis? The former can separate tiny molecules with low molecular weight whereas the latter can filter out larger molecules with higher molecular weight. 

Clean drinking water helps to maintain a healthy household. Water contaminants can either dissolve or remain visible in the water. 

This article provides further differences between ultrafiltration and reverses osmosis in a tabular form. Take the time to read through and find out the relationship between reverse osmosis and ultrafiltration. 

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Comparison Table (Ultrafiltration vs Reverse Osmosis)

Basic Terms Ultrafiltration Reverse Osmosis 
Description It is a process where water is filtered through a membrane filter to remove contaminants molecules. It is a process where water is passed through a semipermeable membrane against the concentration gradient. 
Molecular Weight of Separated particles103-106DAGreater than 300 DA. 
Filtration Mechanism Either osmosis or reverse osmosis It is the opposite of natural osmosis 
Pore Size 0.01 micrometers or larger Very tiny pores. 
Type of MoleculeViruses, milk proteins, colloidal silica, endotoxin pyrogens, and gelatin. Aqueous salt, metal ions, synthetic dyes, and lactose solution. 
costsToo expensiveLess expensive 
Significance A pre-filtration method during reverse osmosis.Produce pure water by removing all elements. 

What Is Ultrafiltration?

Ultrafiltration is the process of removing particles in water using the principle of reverse osmosis and natural osmosis. It operates against concentration gradient or hydrostatic pressure. 

The membrane filter is either a semipermeable membrane or porous materials for the filtration. But it is the perfect option for water purification. 

The process allows water and low molecular weight solutes to pass through the semipermeable membrane or porous material. 

It is commonly used as a pre-filtration method of reverse osmosis. Keep in mind that it can remove both particles and microorganisms in water. 

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What Is Reverse Osmosis?

It is a water purification process where metal ions and other unwanted materials are removed from the drinking water. 

It works against the principle of natural osmosis where water moves from a high concentration to a low concentration against a semipermeable membrane. 

Reverse osmosis water in a situation where the facilitated pressure is higher than the osmotic pressure. The water purification process produces very clean water without biological matter.

The water purification process is ideal for pharmaceutical-grade water. It can be automated to some extent. But it is too expensive. 

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Main Difference between Ultrafiltration and Reverse Osmosis

  1. Ultrafiltration uses a fine medium to remove particles while reverse osmosis uses either a semipermeable membrane or porous material. 
  2. Ultrafiltration applies the principle of reverse osmosis or natural osmosis while reverse osmosis is the opposite of natural osmosis. 
  3. Ultrafiltration filter membrane has larger pores while reverse osmosis membrane has smaller pores. 
  4. Ultrafiltration removes both particles and microorganisms while reverse osmosis removes radioactive particles. 
  5. Ultrafiltration is ideal for pre-filtration methods while reverse osmosis is suitable for producing pure water for drinking. 

Similarities between Ultrafiltration and Reverse Osmosis

  1. Both are important for water purification.
  2. Both use either semipermeable membrane or porous material. 
  3. Both are facilitated by concentration gradients or high pressure. 
  4. Both are the main types of the water filtration process. 

In Conclusion

Ultrafiltration is a filtration method where particles are separated from solutions. The solution is run through a semipermeable membrane to remove both particles and microorganisms. 

Reverse osmosis also separates particulate matter from a solution. The filtration method works against the principle of natural osmosis. The hydrostatic pressure is usually higher than osmotic pressure. 

The main difference between reverse osmosis and ultrafiltration depends on the range of filtration. But both filtration methods are ideal for the production of clean water for drinking. 

Keep in mind that each filtration method comes with its advantages and disadvantages. It would be best to read up on their pros and cons before making a decision. 

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