While reverse osmosis is commonly used to eliminate harmful microbes and contaminants from a water supply, it can also be used to make different types of water safe for human consumption. Some people rely on this phenomenon to desalinate saltwater, while others need it to create wine. Of course, it goes without saying that not all commercial reverse osmosis systems can reliably perform these tasks.
When treating saltwater, a reverse osmosis system typically uses four processes. First is ‘pretreatment’, which deals with removing suspended solids and adjusting the pH levels of the water being treated. Second is ‘pressurization’, as per any other reverse osmosis system. Third is ‘separation’ which removes dissolved salts from the water using a variety of different membranes. The fourth and final stage is ‘stabilization’ or the process of normalizing the pH levels of the newly-treated water. Anyone from households, to pharmaceuticals, to farmers utilize this type of reverse osmosis in some way or form.
When creating wine, a reverse osmosis system generally uses a cross-filtration method. This means that unlike a typical reverse osmosis, this type of treatment sees the water, salts, and alcohol to run parallel to the membrane filter. Winemakers use reverse osmosis to either reduce or increase the alcohol content of their beverages.