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Definition - What does Osmosis mean?

Osmosis describes the process by which a solvent in a solution passes through a semipermeable membrane separating two solutions. Molecules of a solution are referred to as solvents or solutes. The solvent component of a solution is the liquid, such as water. Solutes are suspended in this liquid.

Osmosis occurs when the two solutions separated by the selective semipermeable membrane have differing solute to solvent ratios. For instance, the water from a saltwater solution with a low concentration of salt would pass through the dividing membrane to the solution with a high concentration of salt via osmosis. In other words, water will pass from a solution that is hypotonic to one that is hypertonic.

Osmosis occurs naturally in plants and animals and controls the passage of water and nutrients across cell walls. The process can also be induced using synthetic membranes.

SureHire explains Osmosis

In the human body, osmosis facilitates digestion and the absorption of water and nutrients through the walls of the gut. In addition, osmosis permits water and other substances to pass through semipermeable cell walls while permitting the cell wall to remain intact. When a person suffers from dehydration, the body may begin to transfer water in and out of different cell types to regain equilibrium.

Man-made applications of osmosis include wastewater treatment and water desalinization. Osmosis is also used to perform dialysis. The semipermeable membrane used for dialysis does not permit blood cells to cross but filters out smaller molecules, removing those impurities from the blood.

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