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Reverse Osmosis - The Key to Extended Cruising

If you want to swing on the hook and enjoy the freedom that cruising boaters enjoy, without the hassles of carrying water in jugs or conserving until you can get to the next marina to fill your tanks, you need a reverse osmosis desalinator (or watermaker).

The heart of every seawater desalinator is the reverse osmosis membrane element itself. Using advanced thin-film composite technology, RO membranes essentially wring fresh water out of seawater. Of course, other components are essential to have a functioning desalinator. Every desalinator needs at the very least the following components:

  • Dedicated thru-hull, seacock and raw water strainer
  • Pre-filtration to remove harmful sediment
  • High-Pressure Feed Pump to achieve the pressure required for reverse osmosis to occur
  • Membrane Element to extract fresh water from seawater
  • Membrane Pressure Vessel to safely contain the high-pressure seawater
  • Pressure Regulator or Needle Valve to control the system operating pressure
  • High Pressure Gauge to measure your system operating pressure
  • Overboard Discharge (above the waterline) for reject brine

To make your watermaker safer, more reliable and easier to use, additional components are great to have:

  • Pressure Relief Valve to prevent system from being over-pressurized
  • Boost Pump to ensure that your high-pressure feed pump always has a positive pressure at it inlet to prevent cavitation
  • Product Flow Meter to measure how quickly you are filling your tanks
  • Feed Flow or Brine Flow Meter is great for quickly checking the health of your high-pressure pump
  • Low Pressure Gauge (or Pressure/Vacuum Gauge) to quickly check the health of your boost pump and filters
  • Fresh Water Flush System to protect your watermaker components from corrosion and reduce organic growth in the system
    • The simplest system uses a bucket filled with fresh product water
    • If you plumb directly into your pressurized fresh water, be sure to include a carbon filter - chlorine will quickly ruin your RO membrane elements!
  • Spare pre-filters and carbon filters
  • Cleaning and preserving chemicals
  • A TDS Meter to monitor the quality of your product water