From the CEO
Changes and Challenges to NCEDA
It was a great pleasure to attend a workshop on forward osmosis at the University of New South Wales on 18 June. Organised by PhD student Gaetan Blandin under the guidance of A/Prof. Pierre Le-Clech, the program highlighted the work of 10 Australian researchers with a keynote delivered by video from Prof. Tony Fane in Singapore. The subject stimulates much interest and it is great to see so much research continuing in Australia. Further details in the article below.
The Climate Resilient Water Supplies (CREWS) project was launched at the Bureau of Meteorology in Canberra on 25 June by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, The Hon. Bob Baldwin. The information about 349 of Australia’s desalination and water recycling plants is available on the Bureau’s website and is well worth a look. Somewhat appropriately, the Bureau announced at the same gathering the return of El Nino to the Pacific Ocean, heralding drier and hotter conditions on the east coast of Australia.
On 22 June, a mainstream press article by Rex Jory of the Adelaide Advertiser spoke in support of Adelaide’s desalination plant. Stimulated by a trip to California which is suffering severe drought, Mr Jory outlined the value of the desalination plant’s climate resilient water supply as “insurance” against inevitable future water shortages. “The LA Times suggested that large areas of California not only lacked a paddle, but a creek to paddle in” wrote Mr Jory. “The Adelaide Desalination Plant may appear to be an unnecessary and expensive luxury. Luxuries are inevitably costly. But in times of drought – inevitable drought – it will give Adelaide both a creek and a paddle.”
Regrettably, the schools program at the Desal Discovery Centre (DDC) has been suspended while the Centre enters a transition phase. Fortunately the DDC and Training Manager (Warren Hays) intends to establish a business and continue to offer world class DH Paul reverse osmosis training services through the NCEDA. In a similar move the Facility Manager (Mike Blackwood) will cease permanent employment with the Centre but will still be helping on a casual basis for ongoing contract research projects. At its meeting on 26 June, the NCEDA Board expressed its appreciation for the contribution of Warren and Mike to the Centre’s success since they started in 2011, and we look forward to an ongoing relationship with both during the transition period.
On an upbeat note, Murdoch University (NCEDA’s Administering Organisation) confirmed the appointment of Dr Simon Toze of CSIRO and Prof. Don Bursill, former SA Chief Scientist, to the NCEDA Board (see their bios below). We welcome both to the NCEDA family. Prof. Bursill will be working with the Board on a strategy to bid for a Cooperative Research Centre in Round 18 expected before the end of 2015.
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The Bureau of Meteorology has launched the Climate Resilient Water Sources web portal (CREWS), an interactive site providing comprehensive mapping and information of desalinated and recycled water sources for over 350 sites across Australia, both publically and privately owned and operated. Users can access the portal to search information on capacity, production, location and use of these alternative water sources across Australia.
This information will inform the Australian community, government and the water industry of the contribution that these sources make to secure water supplies for current and future residential, industrial, mining, commercial and agricultural needs. Diversifying Australian water supply is important to our long-term water security.
Climate Resilient Water Sources was jointly developed by the Bureau of Meteorology, the Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence, the NCEDA and CSIRO. It was launched at an event in Canberra on Thursday 25 June in the presence of The Hon. Bob Baldwin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment.
“We are delighted to have co-sponsored the CREWS project. It is a great pleasure to produce such an outstanding tool to help people understand the full diversity of Australia’s water sources” said Neil Palmer, CEO of the NCEDA. “The very clear data and presentation of the CREWS portal will provide easily accessible new insight to water supply facts that have previously been unavailable”
“The portal improves understanding of how climate resilient water sources can play a greater role in regional water security and supply” said Mark O’Donohue, CEO of the Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence. “There are hundreds of small and large recycled systems around Australia providing water for farming, irrigation, heavy industry, waterway health and drinking. Before this project we didn’t know how much recycled and desalinated water could be produced in each state/territory, or how much was being produced each year – now we’ve got a better picture”
Climate resilient water sources such as desalinated or recycled water play an important role in increasing water security, lessening climate variability impacts on water availability. Either as part of large centralised supply systems or small decentralised schemes, they’re increasingly relied upon to supply or secure Australia’s water demands.
Principal Investigator: Applying a fibre-optic-based surface plasmon resonance sensor prototype in desalination
Professor Kamal Alameh is the Director of the Electron Science Research Institute, Edith Cowan University in Perth Western Australia. He is also Adjunct Professor with the Department of Information and Communications at Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), Korea, South Wales University, Wales, UK, and Southeast University, Nanjing, China. He is currently leading many R&D projects, including the development of micro- and nano-structured fibre-optic sensors for water quality monitoring and multi-port, multi-wavelength tunable lasers, amongst others.
Biofouling in desalination plants is a key issue, typically caused by the accumulation of bacterial excretions or extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), predominantly polysaccharides. Biofilms in RO desalination units may contain up to 95% of polysaccharide molecules, thus significantly deteriorating the performance of RO membranes and increasing the maintenance and operation costs of desalination plants. Recent studies have indicated that biofouling is significantly correlated with water quality changes in the RO units. Hence, reliable in-situ monitoring of water quality and the presence of polysaccharides in RO units is crucial for the prevention of membrane fouling.
Professor Alameh has led a team of researchers to develop a new nano-engineered fibre-optic surface plasmon resonance (SPR) sensor for real-time monitoring of water quality in desalination plants. The developed fibre optic sensor has exceptional features, such as high sensitivity, excellent discrimination capability, corrosion-free operation, high selectivity and cost-effectiveness, which makes it attractive for environmental and process monitoring in desalination plants.
Through collaboration with Dr Lucy Skillman (School of Engineering and Information Technology, Murdoch University), the developed fibre-optic SPR based sensor has demonstrated the capability of sensing water salinity as low as 20 ppm and detecting polysaccharide Xanthan gum, composed of mannose and glucose molecules. Experimental results show that Xanthan gum concentrations in the range of 0.045–0.22 g/L can be successfully detected when dissolved in water.
Professor Alameh has published 350+ peer reviewed journal and conference papers and filed 28 patents over technologies and discoveries that have commercial potential.
The Advances in Forward Osmosis (FO) workshop was held on the 18th June 2015 at UNSW Australia. The event was organised by UNSW/UNESCO Centre for Membrane Science and Technology (PhD Gaetan Blandin and A/Prof. Pierre Le-Clech) and UTS/The Centre for Technology in Water and Wastewater (Dr Sherub Phuntsho and A/Prof. HK Shon), in collaboration with the Membrane Society of Australasia(MSA) and the NCEDA.
The objective of the workshop was to assemble Australian researchers studying FO processes, to showcase the latest findings and to discuss the potential future for FO and the technical challenges still to overcome. More than 50 delegates, from academia and industry, attended the workshop that featured an impressive mix of presentations given by upcoming and established Australian researchers.
The morning session was dedicated to FO applications. Gaetan Blandin (UNSW) and Dr Sherub Phuntsho (UTS) presented their work on their NCEDA-funded projects on assisted FO for energy savings in desalination, and fertiliser drawn FO respectively, with both pointing out the positive impact of hydraulic pressure to overcome flux and recovery limitations of FO. Wenhai Luo (University of Wollongong) described the concept of an osmotic membrane bioreactor and pointed out the need for further work to limit reverse salt diffusion. Prof. Jega Jegatheesan (RMIT) spoke about the interest in using FO to concentrate pre-treated sludge in desalination.
Guofei Sun, Project Manager of Aquaporin Asia (Singapore), presented biomimetic membranes and the potential of FO in industrial wastewater applications for concentration of high value products and zero liquid discharge. The morning session ended with a presentation from Ming Xie (VU), who confirmed FO as a low fouling membrane process.
The afternoon session started with two presentations from Monash University, highlighting the need for new developments on membrane and draw solution. Vincent Liu presented his outstanding but still challenging work on graphene based membranes and Kha Tu spoke about his innovative approach which considers using thermo-responsive hydrogels as draw solution. Shuaifei Zhao (CSIRO) gave an overview on properties to consider for draw solution selection and challenges still to be overcome.
Prof. Tony Fane then joined the event via video conference and talked about current research at the Singapore Membrane Technology Centre. There is an impressive scope and diversity of research being undertaken in FO (membrane development, draw solutions, FO processes, pressure retarded osmosis (PRO)) and Tony shared an enthusiastic vision and positive confidence in FO/PRO future. UTS and UNSW researchers concluded the program with overviews of grapheme oxide FO membrane development, dynamic modelling for full scale FO processes, collaboration with international partners, AFO-NF project, optimisation of submerged reactors and novel approaches for irrigation.
Professor Don Bursill is an international leader and recognised expert in the field of water management and water quality, and has been at the forefront of the most important developments and decisions regarding potable water in Australia for the past 40 years.For most of that time he worked for the South Australian Water Corporation, stepping down at the end of 2005 as its Chief Scientist – a position he had held for 17 years. He led a national team that was successful in establishing the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Quality and Treatment under the Australian Government’s CRC Programme and was CEO of that Centre from its commencement in 1995 until retirement in December 2005.
Don has been an Adjunct Research Professor at the University of South Australia since 1993 – a position he still holds in the University’s SA Water Centre for Water Management and Reuse. From 1996 through to the end of 2010 he chaired the Water Quality Advisory Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council which sets the national drinking water quality guidelines, among other functions.
In April 2011 he was appointed to the position of Chief Scientist for South Australia, which involves the provision of advice to the SA Government on science, research and innovation. His term as Chief Scientist concluded on 8 August 2014. His main interests in this role included the development and implementation of the “Investing in Science Action Plan”, which provides a new framework for enhanced development of science and research activities in South Australia.
He has been recognised with a number of awards including a Member of the Order of Australia, an Honorary Doctorate of the University of South Australia and the Peter Hughes Award from the Australian Water Association. He has a CSIRO Medal for water research and two awards from the South Australian Water Association for innovation in water research, including the Premier’s medal. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.
Dr Simon Toze is the Research Director for the Liveable, Sustainable and Resilient Cities Program within the CSIRO Land and Water Flagship, directing research on the resilience of urban environments, including water sustainability issues such as managed aquifer recharge and alternative water sources.
Dr Toze obtained his Doctorate in Microbiology from the University of Queensland in 1992, and has been working with CSIRO since 1994 on a range of water based projects. He previously worked at the University of Queensland and the University of Illinois.
Dr Toze has been responsible for the management and research direction of research projects, with a combined value of more than $6 million, for the West Australian Premier’s Water Foundation and the Queensland Urban Water Security Research Alliance. These projects investigated the use of alternative water supplies, including the ability to use natural water systems for water treatment, determining requirements for managed aquifer recharge in Western Australia, determining the health and ecological impacts of purified recycled water (indirect potable reuse), and the health risks associated with urban stormwater and roof harvested rainwater. This work was awarded the 2008 Western Australian Water Award for Water Recycling Commercial Projects.
Dr Toze has published more than 70 refereed journal papers and is an Adjunct Associate Professor for the University of Queensland. He has participated on various working groups for the new Australian Water Reuse Guidelines, and been a member of a number of research project and scientific conference committees.
The 2015 Australian Water Association/Deloitte State of the Water Sector Survey is now open and will close 8 July. To ensure the widest range of viewpoints and most accurate results the AWA encourage water sector stakeholders to participate in the survey.
The survey measures views on the critical issues and gives an insight into what the AWA’s focus should be to improve the future of water in Australia, in urban and rural areas.
Those who complete the survey go into a draw to win a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4, or a ticket to the National Water Policy Summit in October. More importantly, participants get to have their say on where the sector is heading.
To complete the survey please follow this link.
South Australia’s Goyder Institute for Water Researchhas welcomed a decision by the South Australian Government to extend its funding for a further four years.
Goyder Institute Director, Dr Michele Akeroyd, said the Government’s decision would enable the Institute to continue its valuable work and help the State maintain its position as a world leader in water research.”The Goyder Institute has proven its value as an independent expert science advisor to Government on water related issues,” she said.
Established in 2010, the Goyder Institute helps deliver expert scientific advice to Government in a format which helps shape policy and decision making. The organisation is a partnership between the South Australian Government through the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, and the CSIRO, Flinders University, the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia.
Unlocking the value of research Water Research Australia – 15-16 July 2015, Crowne Plaza Adelaide
DesalTech 2015 International Conference on Emerging Water Desalination Technologies in Municipal and Industrial Applications – 28-29 August 2015, San Diego, USA.
The National Water Policy Summit 2015 – 6-7 October 2015, Melbourne
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
The NCEDA is grateful for the generous support of our Gold Industry Sponsors.