Desal Directions: August 2012

Posted on 22 August 2012

From the CEO

Manjimup in WA is running out of water. In an article in the West Australian this month, Tom Edwards reported that the two town dams were at 28 per cent capacity. Stage 6 restrictions, which will include total sprinkler bans, will apply from 1 September.

One of the region’s largest apple growers, Harvey Giblett, faces a desperate future as his dams are only a third full and he does not have enough water for his crops for the coming summer. Mr Giblett’s closing comment is worth repeating:

“We need to start building serious infrastructure right away for the sake of future generations. The cost will be high, but the price will be far dearer if we don’t act now.”

Only last week the Centre was asked to contribute to a Review for Seqwater of Operating Arrangements for Brisbane’s Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme and the Gold Coast Desalination Plant. The new Queensland Government is keen to seek economies in operation of its new infrastructure, given that extensive rainfall has replenished its long term storages.

While some believe the cost has been too high, the Centre advocates taking a long term view. The investment has resulted in new climate independent water sources capable of producing up to half of SE Queensland’s water demand. Given the increasing volatility of weather and the long term evidence of an overall dryer climate, future serious droughts are inevitable. SE Queensland is lucky it now has very valuable assets which provide water security for future generations.

The people of Manjimup would love to have such climate resilient water sources.

In June I was fortunate to see an inspiring overseas example of a well managed sustainable water supply for a community in Oman. I visited the oasis of Nakhal (pictured) while speaking at a conference arranged by Dr Mushtaque Ahmed of Sultan Qaboos University.

Although most of Oman relies on seawater desalination, a large number of oases are supplied from natural springs which provide water for people, plants and livestock through a system of falaj or channels.

The water is managed through complex social structures which have been in operation in some cases for thousands of years.

Australia needs to get a lot smarter with its water management – we have the technology to create our own sustainable oases.

Neil Palmer
0417 996 126

In this issue

Special presentation on new US biofouling research findings, Rockingham, 28 August

Murdoch University Adjunct Professor Sunny Jiang.

Newly appointed Murdoch University Adjunct Professor Sunny Jiang will give a special presentation at NCEDA this month on Southern Californian research to prevent and reduce membrane biofouling.

The Environmental Engineering Professor from the University of California in Irvine will reveal results of studies into indicators used to identify membrane biofouling propensity and ways to reduce biofilm in order to reduce desal plant energy consumption.

Prof. Jiang is in Perth to work with Professor Goen Ho’s Murdoch research team on NCEDA-funded projects.
All are welcome to attend this talk at 5:00 pm, Tuesday 28 August at the NCEDA Rockingham Desalination Research Facility, Murdoch University Rockingham Campus, Dixon Road, Rockingham. Please join us afterwards for networking and drinks.

RSVP by email to See more details about the talk.

RO Design and Operation Training, Rockingham, 2-4 October

The Centre’s first operator training course will be held at the Rockingham Desalination Research Facility from 2-4 October.

Targeted at water professionals in the water treatment and desalination industry, the course will be taught by David H. Paul accredited trainer Paul Roginson in conjunction with NCEDA’s Facility Manager Mike Blackwood and Technical Consultant George Horvath.

Download the brochure (2 MB PDF) and see full details about the course.

Thanks to retiring Board Members

Retiring NCEDA Board members Dr Dharma Dharmabalan (Coliban Water) and Professor Vicki Chen (UNSW) with NCEDA Chair Mr Graeme Rowley.

Professor Vicki Chen and Dr Dharma Dharmabalan have completed their two-year terms on the Board of NCEDA. The Centre is deeply appreciative of the skill and wisdom they have brought to the Board.

Dr Dharmabalan, who represented the desalination industry, is General Manager Infrastructure with Coliban Water and an enthusiast for desalination. He brought wide experience and insight into the role of desalination in water utilities and the ongoing need for research and development.

Prof. Chen, a representative of the Participating Organisations, is Director of the UNESCO Centre for Membrane Science and Technology and Deputy Head of Chemical Engineering at the University of NSW. Prof. Chen continues a formal association with the Centre as Principal Investigator on a project investigating transverse vibrational motion enhanced submerged hollow fibre membrane crystallisation.

We are delighted to welcome two new Directors. They are Dr Anita Hill, Chief of the Division of Process Science and Engineering and Office of the Chief Executive Science Leader, CSIRO, representing the Participating Organisations, and Graham Dooley, Chairman of Osmoflo Pty Ltd representing the desalination industry.

Sustainable Membrane Coalition launched

SkyJuice Foundation's SkyHydrant in use.

An international sustainable membrane development coalition has been launched in conjunction with SkyJuice Foundation, CleanUp Australia and NCEDA. This important global water initiative is the first step to change practices and attitudes within the global water industry regarding water utilities management.

Read the full story by Centre Research Advisory Chair Rhett Butler.

Discovery Centre popularity grows

National Science Week expo at Ashdale Secondary College, August 2012.

Twenty eight group tours have visited the Desal Discovery Centre in Rockingham so far this year and bookings continue to grow. DDC Manager Warren Hays says the new science education attraction has a further 12 visits confirmed for Term 3.

The DDC has also been active with outreach, exhibiting this month at a two-day National Science Week expo at Ashdale Secondary College.

More than 700 Ashdale primary and secondary students were able to explore the Centre’s touch screen resource and display of desal membranes during the August event in Perth’s northern suburbs.Visits from tertiary classes, adult interest and specialised groups continues to raise the profile of desalination and the work of NCEDA to a wider audience.

A detailed DDC Education Program brochure (2 MB PDF) has been produced with 900 copies mailed to primary and secondary schools in the Perth metropolitan and WA regional centres.

Eight new PhD scholarships awarded

Eight more supplementary PhD scholarships have been awarded by NCEDA worth $240,000 over three years.

In total, the Centre has now funded five Honours students and 23 PhD students at a total investment over $800,000 to encourage the next generation of desal researchers.

Scholarship winner John Hayles went straight from completing his Honours project into Centre-funded PhD research with the same team of scientists led by Dr Sophie Leterme at Flinders University.

New US career for SA R&D engineer

Dr Mike Dixon, Senior Applications Engineer, NanoH2O.

Congratulations to Dr Mike Dixon, who has been appointed as Senior Applications Engineer with NanoH2O, a membrane manufacturing company based in Los Angeles.

For the past eight years Dr Dixon has worked as an R&D engineer with South Australia Water on research projects at Bolivar, SA Water House and the Adelaide Desalination Project.

As a researcher at SA Water, Dr Dixon always made the most of opportunities to share outcomes internationally, becoming involved in organisations such as the AWA, WSAA, NCEDA and partnering with universities on exciting projects.

Highlights include improving SA Water’s reputation as an intelligent client of desalination technology, raising the organisation’s profile globally and securing a solid portfolio of research to ensure longer term benefits for the ADP and desalination projects at SA Water. He also recently won the 2012 International Desalination Association Fellowship Award.

East coast planners need to hold nerve on major infrastructure

Australia’s east coast urban planners and state governments need to hold their nerve on using major seawater desalination plants for effective drought-proofing and not give in to short term politics and vocal minorities.

Read more from the CEO advocating desal for drought-proofing cities.

Researcher profile: Dr Ho Kyong Shon, University of Technology Sydney

Dr Ho Kyong Shon, University of Technology Sydney.

University of Technology Sydney researcher Dr Ho Kyong Shon has developed a novel low-energy fertiliser drawn forward osmosis (FDFO) desalination process.

Dr Shon has achieved this together with NSW State Water, Korea University, CSIRO and Yale University through NCEDA.

He says the first project is focused on fundamentals including process optimisation on FDFO desalination for direct fertigation.

Dr Shon has found that most soluble fertilisers can be used suitably as draw solution for FO desalination.

NCEDA Chief Scientific Officer Professor David Furukawa was involved in the continuous monitoring of the progress and was impressed with achievements in terms of publications and progress.

Prof. Furukawa suggested Dr Shon open the door to commercial use for this technology on testing a pilot scale.

Since then, Dr Shon organised a workshop with local farmers and governmental officers in charge of salt interception scheme in the Murray-Darling River to implement this technology.

After numerous discussions, the accelerated project (mainly focusing on pilot scale FDFO set up onsite) was initiated and the second accelerated project has been approved.

The second project will be carried out with FDFO pilot scale desalination unit with a capacity of about 1 ton/day. The world-first pilot-scale FDFO was designed and fabricated by Dr Shon and his group.

Since 1998, Dr Shon has made significant contributions to the understanding of physico-chemical water treatment processes. The initial stage of his research career focused on understanding membrane fouling mechanisms of organic/inorganic materials for wastewater reuse and desalination.

He has been involved in extensive experience of membrane-based desalination processes through ARC-DP, European Desalination project (MEDINA) and SeaHERO Korean Desalination project. He has so far published over 120 refereed journal articles including five patents.

Dr Shon was awarded Global Honour Award of the 2012 IWA Project Innovation Awards, and was winner of the 2012 IWA Project Innovation Awards, Asia Pacific Regional Awards 2012.

He is currently an associate editor in Water Science and Technology (IWA publishing) and Journal of Hazardous, Toxic, and Radioactive Waste (American Society of Civil Engineers).

See more on Dr Shon’s research and his recent research showcase presentation.

Other news

NCEDA is now on Facebook.

Ozwater ’13 Perth: Deadline looming for papers – Submit by 30 August.

ABC Online: Driest July on record for Perth, desalination to the rescue.

The West Australian: South-West and agriculture regions face water crisis. Global desalination statistics overview.

University of Queensland: Research project to help improve the cost efficiency of the Gold Coast Desalination Plant.

Gold Industry Sponsors

The NCEDA is grateful for the generous support of our Gold Industry Sponsors.

Valoriza Water Australia Osmoflo GHD

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