From the CEO
Water and Renewable Energy
Interest in renewable energy seems to be growing. In January I visited Muradel’s pilot scale facility in Whyalla which uses sunlight to grow algae at a rapid rate in seawater. The algae is thickened and treated under high pressure and temperature to produce crude oil. Muradel’s CEO Dr David Lewis enthusiastically explained the process by which the crude oil can then be refined to diesel. This impressive facility is set for expansion later in the year. I was accompanied by Dr Yuri Obst of Baleen Filters, a South Australian company that has successfully developed technology for fine screening and thickening of algae.
On the way to Whyalla we passed the Sundrop Farm greenhouse under construction at Port Augusta. The outstanding feature of the site (apart from the sheer size of the 20 ha greenhouse) is the solar tower – the first in the Southern Hemisphere. I noted the contrasts: in the background is Alinta’s Northern Power Station set to close in March due in part to increasing competition from solar electricity. In the foreground is the Morgan Whyalla Pipeline No. 1 built in 1943 to bring fresh water to the Iron Triangle. The greenhouse will not be using water from the pipeline, but will obtain 2 ML/d of solar powered desalinated seawater from Spencer Gulf via a multi-effect distillation plant.
I recently worked on a bid with Tonkin Consulting to investigate alternatives for the relocation of SA Water’s Murray Bridge wastewater treatment plant. During the process, I came into contact with Professor Howard Fallowfield of Flinders University who has developed a design for high rate algal ponds (HRAP) for the treatment of wastewater. The principles have recently been approved in South Australia for use in Community Wastewater Management Schemes (systems which collect and treat septic tank effluent in country towns). In linking the Muradel concept with HRAP, the algal concentrate could be supplied without cost using the Baleen technology leaving clean water for recycling. As Murray Bridge is a sewerage system, fine screening of the sewage could provide a thick primary sludge suitable for anaerobic digestion, methane gas production and power generation. It was a tantalising thought: coupled with the energy obtained from the conversion of algae to diesel, the whole wastewater plant would be a significant net producer of energy.
One of the key objectives of the “Future Water” CRC currently under consideration is to research better use of renewable energy to drive new technology to improve the quality of impaired water. It is heartening to see such a strong interest by technologists and, perhaps more importantly, investors in sustainable projects.
Chief Executive Officer
0417 996 126
In this issue
Professor David Furukawa, the NCEDA’s Founding Chief Scientific Officer, sent this report after his visit to the Carlsbad Desalination Plant in San Diego.
“The Carlsbad Desalination Plant (CPD) was inaugurated on December 14, 2015 amid much fanfare. More than 600 people were invited including members of the California Assembly and local politicians. The majority of the crowd were representatives from the vendors that provided engineering/design, construction, and equipment to the plant. The ceremony officially named the plant the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, after the late mayor of Carlsbad who had the foresight and tenacity to carry this project through many years of environmental issues. The plant, which took more than 14 years to build due to the number of challenges raised, cost just over $US1 billiion, according to Bob Yamada, Director of Water Resources for the San Diego County Water Authority. This included the construction of a 10 mile pipeline that connects to the Water Authority’s distribution system and upgrades to other facilities for the distribution of desalinated water.
The facility can produce 50 million gallons per day from 100mgd of raw seawater and supplies 8-10% of the water supply for San Diego county. The feedwater is taken from the discharge side of once-through cooling water for the nearby NRG Encina Power Plant. Although the power plant will be shut down in 2017, this has been taken into consideration for the additional energy that will be required for lower temperature feedwater in the future. Pre-treatment is by conventional gravity-fed dual media filters followed by 20 micron cartridge filters. The membrane section contains 2,000 pressure vessels (14,000 membrane elements) and post-treatment is by limestone beds and CO2 injection. The design was described as “typical of other IDE plants”. My viewpoint is that the plant utilises well established technology (e.g. limestone chips have been used as post-treatment for more than 4 decades, particularly for small to medium sized plants), and the successful long term performance will rest on the pre-treatment design. Overall, this plant will become the workhorse of a critical segment of municipal water supply for San Diego.
The main engineers for the project were GHD Group, Butler Engineering and IDE Americas. A special tour of the plant was arranged in January by Director Yamada for about 20 scientists in the San Diego area who he credited with developing the technology that made this plant possible.
Over the past 15 years, 21 seawater desalination plants have been proposed in California. The CDP is the largest desalination plant in the western hemisphere and the hope is that this will be the precursor for many more to come in the USA.”
The NCEDA is coordinating an expression of interest to Round 18 of the Cooperative Research Centres Programme for the “Future Water” CRC.
The “Future Water” CRC will foster the strong collaborations between industry and researchers necessary to provide new water technologies and management solutions to enable Australia’s impaired water resources to be used for economic benefit, particularly in the agriculture, rural and remote, and non-conventional oil and gas, mining, and advanced industry sectors. Forums with interested industry stakeholders are being held during February.
If you feel that your organisation could benefit from an ongoing research program and involvement in the proposed “Future Water” CRC, please contact the NCEDA’s Chief Operating Officer Sharon Humphris.
Modelling, Monitoring and Control of RO biofouling
Lead Investigator – Dr Ralf Cord Ruwisch, Murdoch University with Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), AquaMem Scientific Consultants (USA), Valoriza Water Australia, University of Alicante (Spain)
Biofouling of RO membranes contributes to the costs of the desalination process because of the need for regular membrane replacement. Biofouling is a complex process that involves binding of the membrane by bacterial biofilms feeding on organic contaminants in the feedwater and associated precipitation of organic macromolecules (e.g. biopolymers). This project aims to develop an online biosensor for the monitoring of biodegradable contaminants and possibly biopolymers, and a concept computer-controlled biofilm reactor that can be used as an RO pre-treatment for the removal of organic contaminants, limiting membrane fouling caused by biofilms and possibly also organic colloids.
Liang Cheng completed his PhD in Environmental Engineering in Nov 2012 at Murdoch University, where he subsequently became a post-doctoral research fellow working with Dr Ralf Cord-Ruwisch on this project. Dr Cheng has over five years’ experience in the field of biotechnology, environmental geotechnics, and bio-electrochemical research with particular emphasis on wastewater treatment, bioremediation (ground improvement) and microbial fuel cells. He received an honorable mention in the 2014 R M Quigley Awards, for the best paper published in the Canadian Geotechnical Journal in 2013. His recent research has focused on bio-mineralisation and bio-electrochemical processes leading to published work on a microbial fuel cell sensor for seawater organic carbon detection, pre-treatment of activated sludge by electrolysis process, and energy efficient wastewater treatment process.
• Quek, S. B., L. Cheng, and R. Cord-Ruwisch. 2014. Bio-Electrochemical Sensor for Fast Analysis of Assimilable Organic Carbon in Seawater. Journal of Biosensors and Bioelectronics 5:152-155.
• Quek, S.-B., L. Cheng, and R. Cord-Ruwisch. 2014. Detection of low concentration of assimilable organic carbon in seawater prior to reverse osmosis membrane using microbial electrolysis cell biosensor. Desalination and Water Treatment 55 (11):2885-2890.
• Cheng, L., S. B. Quek, and R. Cord-Ruwisch. 2014. Hexacyanoferrate-adapted biofilm enables the development of a microbial fuel cell biosensor to detect trace levels of assimilable organic carbon (AOC) in oxygenated seawater. Biotechnology and Bioengineering 111 (12):2412-2420.
• Quek, S. B., L. Cheng, and R. Cord-Ruwisch. 2015. In-line deoxygenation for organic carbon detections in seawater using a marine microbial fuel cell-biosensor. Bioresource Technology 182:34-40.
• Sun, J.-Z., G. Peter Kingori, R.-W. Si, D.-D. Zhai, Z.-H. Liao, D.-Z. Sun, T. Zheng, and Y.-C. Yong. 2015. Microbial fuel cell-based biosensors for environmental monitoring: a review. Water Science and Technology 71 (6):801-809.
This ½ day Workshop is open to all interested in the problem of water security in highly variable climates. It is offered in liaison with the Young Water Professionals National Conference and will be held on Wed 17 February the day before the Conference starts in Sydney.
Designed and led by some of Australia’s most experienced practitioners and leading thinkers in sustainable water management, the workshop will provide discussion on the following topics:
• The problem – climate change, weather variability, population growth and water consumption
• Conservation vs. new water sources – seawater desalination, potable water recycling and stormwater
• Does anyone care about water security in developing countries?
• How much do urban consumers value water security?
Register by email or call Trevor Pillar or Joel Voortman on 08 8236 5211.
The NCEDA’s Professional Training is now managed by AMS Training & Solutions (AMSTS), a company run by Warren Hays, former Manager of the NCEDA’s Desal Discovery Centre. AMSTS has partnered with David H Paul Inc. and collaborates with the NCEDA to continue to bring this expert, world renowned RO Specialist training to Australia.
Training & Dates
1) Water and Wastewater Minimisation Technologies (Classroom, 1 day)
SA Water House, Adelaide SA – Mon 29 February 2016
2) Reverse Osmosis 301 (Classroom, 1 day)
Osmoflo, Adelaide SA – Tues 1 March 2016
3) Advanced Troubleshooting of RO Systems (Hands-on, 3 days)
Osmoflo, Adelaide SA – Wed to Fri 2-4 March 2016
4) Membrane Filtration 101 (Classroom, 1 day)
CUB, Yatala QLD – Mon 7 March 2016
5) Membrane Filtration and Membrane Bioreactors (Hands-on, 2 days)
CUB, Yatala QLD – Tues and Wed 8-9 March 2016 or Thurs and Fri 10-11 March 2016
6) Reverse Osmosis 101 (Classroom, 1 day)
Tarong Power Station (Stanwell), Nanango QLD – Mon 14 March 2016
7) Operation, Control and Maintenance of RO Units (Hands-on, 3 days)
Tarong Power Station (Stanwell), Nanango QLD – Tues to Thurs 15-17 March 2016
The following journal articles were published:
- Balzano, S., A. V. Ellis, C. Le Lan, and S. C. Leterme. 2015. Seasonal changes in phytoplankton on the north-eastern shelf of Kangaroo Island (South Australia) in 2012 and 2013. Oceanologia 57 (3):251-262.
2. Barron, O., R. Ali, G. Hodgson, D. Smith, E. Qureshi, D. McFarlane, E. Campos, and D. Zarzo. 2015. Feasibility assessment of desalination application in Australian traditional agriculture. Desalination 364:33-45.
3. Blandin, G., A. R. D. Verliefde, and P. Le-Clech. 2015. Pressure enhanced fouling and adapted anti-fouling strategy in pressure assisted osmosis (PAO). Journal of Membrane Science 493:557-567.
4. Blandin, G., A. R. D. Verliefde, and P. Le-Clech. 2015. Pressure enhanced fouling and adapted anti-fouling strategy in pressure assisted osmosis (PAO). Journal of Membrane Science 493:557-567.
5. Clarke, D. P., Y. M. Al-Abdeli, and G. Kothapalli. 2015. Multi-objective optimisation of renewable hybrid energy systems with desalination. Energy 88:457-468.
6. Duong, H. C., S. Gray, M. Duke, T. Y. Cath, and L. D. Nghiem. 2015. Scaling control during membrane distillation of coal seam gas reverse osmosis brine. Journal of Membrane Science 493:673-682.
7. Duong, H. C., A. R. Chivas, B. Nelemans, M. Duke, S. Gray, T. Y. Cath, and L. D. Nghiem. 2015. Treatment of RO brine from CSG produced water by spiral-wound air gap membrane distillation — A pilot study. Desalination 366:121-129.
8. Feng, Y., K. Wang, C. Davies, and H. Wang. 2015. Carbon Nanotube/Alumina/Polyethersulfone Hybrid Hollow Fiber Membranes with Enhanced Mechanical and Anti-Fouling Properties. Nanomaterials 5 (3):1366.
The following theses were submitted:
1. Akhavan, B. 2015. Plasma Polymer Functionalised Surfaces for Water Purification, School of Engineering, University of South Australia.
2. Lawler, W. 2015. Assessment of End-of-Life Opportunities for Reverse Osmosis Membranes, School of Chemical Engineering, University of New South Wales.
3. Sahebi, S. 2015. Developing Thin Film Composite Membranes for Engineered Osmosis Processes, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Technology, Sydney.
4. Schmack, M. 2015. Advancement of the Bubble-Greenhouse Desalination Concept: A Holistic Sustainable Approach to Small-Scale Water Desalination in Remote Regions, School of Engineering and Information Technology, Murdoch University.
The 2016 AWA/IWA Young Water Professionals Conference – 18-19 Feb 2016, UNSW, Sydney
2016 Water Innovation Forum – 10-11 March 2016, Sydney
10th Global Water Summit – 19-20 April 2016, Abu Dhabi, UAE
OzWater16 – 10-12 May 2016, Melbourne
IWA World Water Congress and Exhibition 2016 – 9-13 October 2016, Brisbane.
9th IMSTEC 2016 – 5-8 December 2016, Adelaide
International Water Summit – 16-19 January 2017, Abu Dhabi
The NCEDA is grateful for the generous support of our Gold Industry Sponsors.