Desal Directions – May 2015

Posted on 3 June 2015

From the CEO

A model at Ozwater 15 in Adelaide wearing a garment made from spent RO membranes by Rosy Chalklen for the Mandurah Wearable Art competition. With her is Dr Emilio Gabbrielli of Toray. Emilio was one of the pioneers of RO plants in Australia in the 1970s, and is Senior Vice President of the IDA.

A model at Ozwater 15 in Adelaide wearing a garment made from spent RO membranes by Rosy Chalklen for the Mandurah Wearable Art competition. With her is Dr Emilio Gabbrielli of Toray. Emilio was one of the pioneers of RO plants in Australia in the 1970s, and is Senior Vice President of the IDA.

You can’t win

Now that the SA Water Corporation has decided to keep the Adelaide Desalination plant producing some water, Victorian Farmers have been critical because it is only “idling”. “South Australia’s desalination plant is operating at 10 per cent capacity and for just nine months of the year,” Victorian Farmers Federation Water Council chairman Richard Anderson was reported as saying  in Get Farming Australia on 26 May. “Instead of cranking up their desalination plant, SA Water has instead decided to wade into Victoria’s water markets and drain 8 billion litres out of our irrigation communities.”

Prof. Michael Porter, in a ground-breaking research project undertaken by Deakin University for the NCEDA, predicted this as a likely outcome in his assessment of water sources for Adelaide in the next 100 years. As demand across the board increases, competition for alternative sources (including River Murray water) is expected to push the price ultimately higher than desalinated water, leading to Adelaide needing two more sources of climate resilient water equivalent to the existing desalination plant over the 100 year period.

But Prof. Porter didn’t predict this sentiment would arise quite so soon.

On another topic, the NCEDA has funded (along with the Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence) the Climate Resilient Water Supplies (CREWS) project which will provide information on the Bureau of Meteorology website about Australia’s desalination and water recycling plants. The website will be launched in late June. I am still amazed at the number of people who think that there are only 6 desalination plants in Australia – in fact there are hundreds which will be included in the comprehensive BOM website. The project will make available to the public details of desalination and water recycling plants that can provide Australia with water whatever the weather. The results are impressive – watch the June Desal Directions for a link to the new pages.

The NCEDA has funded projects at UNSW (led by Dr Pierre Le-clech) and Victoria University (led by Dr Marlene Cran) on exploring ideas for the reuse of reverse osmosis membranes. Desal Discovery Centre Manager Warren Hays has pushed the idea along and encouraged entrants in the Mandurah (WA) Wearable Art competition to create fashion garments from spent RO membranes. One by Rosy Chalklen was modelled at the Australian Water Association’s Ozwater Gala Dinner held in Adelaide on 13 May 2015. The garment created quite a sensation. Many thanks to Trility (Gala Dinner Sponsor) and AWA for making it happen.

Research Program Manager Dr Misty Palmer finished at the NCEDA last week and went on maternity leave. Our very best wishes to Misty and her husband Adam as they look forward to sharing the joy of their new baby. Misty plans to return to NCEDA in December.

Neil Palmer

Chief Executive Officer
0417 996 126

In this issue


NCEDA Chairman retires

Graeme Rowley inaugural Chair of the NCEDA Board retires

Graeme Rowley inaugural Chair of the NCEDA Board retires

Graeme Rowley, inaugural Chair of the NCEDA board, has decided to retire.  When first appointed to the NCEDA Board Graeme was a non-executive board member of the Fortescue Metals Group (FMG), a company he had helped to establish with Andrew Forrest.  Prior to joining FMG, he worked in a number of senior executive roles for Rio Tinto Ltd, following a distinguished career in the Royal Australian Air Force spanning some 20 years.

Graeme brought a wealth of operational talent to Board deliberations and strategy development and was much prized for his ability to keep Board proceedings moving at a brisk and professional pace. The NCEDA would like to express our appreciation of Graeme’s contribution to the Centre and wish him a long and happy retirement.

Keith Cadee, who was Deputy Chair, has now been appointed Chair and Graham Dooley has taken the Deputy Chair role. A new independent board member and representative from the Participating Organisations will be appointed shortly to fill the vacant Board positions.


NCEDA Researcher – Dr Tom Yeager

Dr Tom Yeager of Victoria University

Dr Tom Yeager of Victoria University

Principal Investigator: Evaluation of Non-Chemical Pulsed-Power Technology as an Antifouling Pre-Treatment for Reverse Osmosis Desalination Membranes

Dr Thomas Yeager is a lecturer in biotechnology at Victoria University. His background is in microbiology, cell biology, fermentation and process development. More recently he has shifted his focus to microbial activities in dairy products, including the effects of spoilage bacteria in milk as well as peptide formation and bioactive compound production in yogurt cultures. In addition he has been working with anaerobic ammonia oxidising (anammox) cultures in submerged membrane bioreactors for their ability to achieve low energy ammonia removal from waste water.

In his NCEDA-funded project work, the research group has studied the role of pulsed-powered technology as an anti-fouling option for reverse osmosis (RO) membranes. Fouling of RO membranes is a major inconvenience due to the cost of cleaning, time of the system being off-line and reduction of membrane lifespan. There are commercial pulse-powered units currently available that have the potential to be utilised as a pre-treatment to RO membrane systems. The group has been examining the pulse-powered units for their antimicrobial activity and anti-scaling effects. Potential antimicrobial affects may be due to radical formation as well as electroporation by these units. In addition, calcium carbonate scaling may be reduced due to particle participation and manual removal. Finally the pulse-powered systems produce an electromagnetic field and these fields may alter the water structure/clustering properties, leading to a magnetic memory effect in water. This magnetic memory of water is an exciting area of research for the group and testing this in the presence of various impurities, such as iron, is ongoing.

The work has so far resulted in a review article as well as two conference presentations.


Osmoflo awarded desalination project at Australian port)

Port Hedland in WA. Photograph by Sergio Dionisio/Bloomberg

Port Hedland in WA. Photograph by Sergio Dionisio/Bloomberg

NCEDA Gold Sponsor, Osmoflo has secured a build, own and operate contract to supply desalinated water to Fortescue Metals Group at Port Hedland in Western Australia. A new desalination plant will supply dust suppression water, and provide an alternative to drawing on limited potable and bore water supplies in the region.

Osmoflo originally supplied a rental plant to Fortescue, which has been in use since 2011. Following a review of Fortescue’s water requirements, the rental contract has been converted into a longer term build, own and operate contract.

“The amalgamation of the original rental contract to a build own operate contract is a result of a great working relationship between Fortescue and Osmoflo, which already spans over four years,” said Osmoflo Managing Director Marc Fabig.

The new 4500 m3/day seawater desalination plant, inclusive of intake and pre-treatment, gives Fortescue additional capacity to supply third parties within the Port Hedland region.

The plant is set to be completed and fully operational by July.


Hands-On RO Operator Training

Hands-on RO operator training at Synergy's Muja Power Station in Collie, WA

Hands-on RO operator training at Synergy’s Muja Power Station in Collie, WA

The NCEDA recently completed its first round of hands-on operator training in conjunction with David H Paul Inc. (USA). The Centre welcomed DHP trainer Richard Youmans to Australia for 3 weeks of training that was held in South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland during May. The hands-on components cover many of the essential O&M tasks performed in the successful operation of a desal asset – acid and scale inhibitor injection and control, cartridge filter change out and cleaning, SDI testing, start-up and shut-down, loading and unloading elements, shim installation, monitoring and trending.

Ultimately this practical hands-on training provides real improvements in the operation of desal plants resulting in OPEX savings and thus generating a significant return on the investment in the training.

The NCEDA thanks Osmoflo, Synergy and Carlton and United Breweries for hosting the training at their facilities.


Staff at the WA Department of Water immerse themselves in desal

From L-R: Roy Stone, Amy Cowdell, Alana French, Beatrice Franke, Claire Horsley, Dan Ferguson, Craig Scott

From L-R: Roy Stone, Amy Cowdell, Alana French, Beatrice Franke, Claire Horsley, Dan Ferguson, Craig Scott

Staff from the Department of Water, Water Supply Planning Branch recently toured the NCEDA to increase their understanding of the latest developments in desalination research. The group spent time in the EduLab with Desal Discovery Centre (DDC) Manager Warren Hays doing the famous ‘taste-test’ and other hands-on activities and toured the Rockingham Desalination Research Facility pilot-scale plant.

The visit was organised by Scientific Officer Claire Horsley who later commented “Our team thoroughly enjoyed the visit, and could have spent all morning at the centre talking and learning about desalination. We were very impressed with the centre and the passion of the team.”  They also had a tour of the Perth Seawater Desalination Plant in Kwinana on their way back to Perth.


Partnering with the NCEDA for CRC Fundingcrc_AustGov_logo

The NCEDA is looking to the future and in anticipation of the reopening of a streamlined Cooperative Research Centres Programme, has begun exploring interest from industry in resuming a bid for Round 18.

Major themes are expected to include water solutions, including desalination, for people, food and industry. The NCEDA has developed strong links with industry and academia and is confident that it can assemble a strong team of end-users and research providers with an imaginative and industry-focussed research program to produce a credible and competitive application.

Interested industry partners are being sought and if you feel that your organisation could benefit from an ongoing research program and involvement in a future CRC, please contact the NCEDA’s Chief Operating Officer Sharon Humphris.


Prof. Jennifer McKay and the South Australian Variety Bush Bash

Jennifer’s car (108) – a 1965 HD Holden

Jennifer’s car (108) – a 1965 HD Holden

CEO Neil Palmer attended the Annual Variety Ball held in Adelaide on 29 May at the invitation of Prof. Jennifer McKay, an NCEDA Principal Investigator from UniSA . Every year Variety SA runs a Bush Bash, a fun outback tour comprising only standard cars made before 1980. Neil was astonished to discover Jennifer has entered three previous Bashes in her trusty yellow 1965 HD Holden which she co-owns with Angela Baker. The car has several modifications such as truck springs, 4 separate seats, bull bar, floor shift and 1992 Holden long blue motor. Jennifer and her team have raised more than $40,000 for Variety SA, a charity which raises funds for children who are sick, disadvantaged or have special needs.

This year’s Bash is from 8-15 August, starting in Adelaide, going via Cameron Corner (Qld/NSW/SA) and finishing in Loxton. Jennifer’s co-drivers this year are also named Jenny and so they will be called the “three Jennies”.


DesalTech 2015DesalTech 2015 logo

DesalTech 2015 International Conference on Emerging Water Desalination Technologies in Municipal and Industrial Applications – 28-29 August 2015, San Diego, USA (in conjunction with the IDA World Congress).

The NCEDA is one of the organisers of this conference that will focus specifically on research in emerging water desalination technologies for municipal and industrial applications. The NCEDA’s CEO, Neil Palmer and Chief Scientific Officer, Professor Wendell Ela will give presentations and the NCEDA’s research program will be represented by Prof Stephen Gray (VU), Dr Ho Kyong Shon (UTS) and Prof. Saravanamuth (Vigid) Vigneswaran (UTS).

Early bird registrations are available until 1 July.


Forthcoming eventsWater Conference

Membrane Society of Australasia Advances in Forward Osmosis Workshop – 18 June 2015, UNSW, Sydney

SIWW Technology and Innovation Summit 2015 – 16-17 June 2015, One Farrer Hotel, Singapore

“Unlocking the value of research” Water Research Australia – 15-16 July 2015, Crowne Plaza Adelaide

Water and Development Congress & Exhibition – 18-22 October 2015, Jordan

American Water Summit – 20-21 October 2015, Denver, USA

International Water Reuse & Desalination Symposium – 4-5 Nov 2015, Brisbane

International Conference on Sustainable Water Management 2015 – 29 Nov-3 Dec 2015 Murdoch University, Perth

IWA World Water Congress and Exhibition 2016 – 9-13 October 2016, Brisbane


Other News

Author: Javier F. Ponce, Principal © Copyright 2015 SMART FLOATING FARMS (SFF) FORWARD THINKING ARCHITECTURE

Author: Javier F. Ponce, Principal © Copyright 2015 Smart Floating Farms (SFF) Forward Thinking Architecture

Without ensuring universal access to water, there can be no food security

Solar powered floating farms

California looks to Australia for tips on surviving drought

Thomson Reuters reports move of tech trends to food & water

The future of desalination in Australia – Australia Water Management Review


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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