Desal Directions – April 2016

Posted on 4 May 2016

From the CEO

Prof. Linda Zou of Masdar Institute and Neil Palmer in Abu Dhabi in April with a sheet of graphene being used as a reverse osmosis membrane coating in one of her projects.

Prof. Linda Zou of Masdar Institute and Neil Palmer in Abu Dhabi in April with a sheet of graphene being used as a reverse osmosis membrane coating in one of her projects.

A View from the Middle East

Last week at the Global Water Summit in Abu Dhabi, I heard Daniel Franklin of The Economist share some startling demographic points with the 600 or so world water leaders who attended. In presenting the keynote address, Franklin observed that it took from the start of history to 1800 for the world’s population to reach 1 billion. With the world’s population now at 7 billion, it will take just 12 years to add the next one billion. In 2050, the world’s population is forecast to be 9.5 billion, with some 50% of that in Africa.

But of even greater interest was his thoughts on the world’s economic centre of gravity.  Based on GDP, in 1980 it was in the Atlantic. It is moving east, and is now in Iran (2016).  By 2050 it will be somewhere between India and China. The implications for water and food are clear – competing demands, increasing scarcity and the need for new sources of fresh water. As the economic centre of the world is coming closer to Australia, the opportunity to better use our vast supplies of impaired water for high value food production for this new market is very appealing.

It was pleasing to see Australian water leaders John Ringham, CEO of SA Water leading a session on innovation and Marc Fabig of Osmoflo sharing on the new economics of desalination and Osmoflo’s capability of rapid deployment of temporary desalination plants. Max Borchardt of GWI co-ordinated the Australians for a lunch with Christopher Gasson. In addition to John and Marc were Francois Gouws of Trility, David Middleton of CH2M, Adam Lovell of WSAA, Karlene Maywald (ICEWaRM Chair and SA Government Water Strategic Adviser) and myself.

The challenges of novel ways of delivering water are being addressed in a big way by the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi. I went there to see Professor Linda Zou, formerly of UniSA and an NCEDA researcher. Prof. Zou is working on projects to develop efficient reverse osmosis desalination membranes with graphene (Abu Dhabi Education Council), and has won a prestigious UAE government grant of US$1.39 million on a project to develop more efficient cloud seeding using nano-particles. I also met with Dr Alexander Richstel with whom I shared a panel on energy at the San Diego IDA World Congress in September last year and Dr Mohamad El Ramahi who participated in the International Desalination Workshop hosted by NCEDA in Melbourne in 2013. We have agreed to foster strong links between Masdar Institute and the Future Water CRC should its application be successful later this year.

Neil Palmer

Chief Executive Officer
0417 996 126

In this issue

Future Water CRC

Pouring water into glassAn expression of interest has been submitted to Round 18 of the Cooperative Research Centres Programme for a Future Water CRC.

The Future Water CRC application sets out an agenda for industry and researchers to provide new water technologies and management solutions for Australia’s impaired water resources to be used for economic benefit. Its focus will be on agribusiness, mining and mineral processing, energy and regional communities. The Interim Chair of the bid is Prof. Don Bursill, former Chief Scientist of South Australia.

The Future Water CRC recognises that Australia’s water challenges are two-fold. Through research there is an opportunity to convert more of Australia’s vast impaired water resources into economically valuable products and to utilise renewable freshwater resources to much higher benefit.

The vision is for climate-independent, affordable and fit-for-purpose water, whenever and wherever it is needed.

The expression of interest for the Future Water CRC was submitted on 31 March, including commitment from 25 participants for a funding request over 10 years. Industry partners include Osmoflo, South32, SA Water, Harvey Water, Melbourne Water, NT Power and Water and Peel Development Commission. A number of the research institutions that have been partners of the NCEDA have expressed interest along with some new participants.

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has not yet released a final timetable for Round 18 of the Programme. Although shortlisted bids are likely to be notified in June/July, work on the next stage of the bid has already started.

For further information on how to become involved in the Future Water CRC, please get in touch with the NCEDA’s CEO Neil Palmer.

NCEDA Researcher Profile – Professor Michael J. Monteiro

Professor Michael J. Monteiro, University of Queensland

Professor Michael J. Monteiro, University of Queensland

Highly productive and selective bio-organic hybrid membrane water filters Phases 1 & 2
Lead Investigator – Professor Michael Monteiro,The University of Queensland with Stanford University, USA.

Professor Monteiro’s NCEDA-funded project aims to develop novel bio-organic hybrid membranes with high selectivity and water permeation rates with low energy requirements. This research intends to deliver the next generation in membrane technology by attempting to replicate nature’s own filtration process.

Protein membranes that show excellent water purification are being used in a designer artificial polymer membrane that acts to capture, orientate and support the biomolecules in the correct position on the polymer surface. These membranes now have the potential to be made on an industrial scale.

Professor Monteiro is the Deputy Director (Research) within the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) at The University of Queensland (UQ). He completed his PhD at Griffith University, Australia, on nitroxide trapping of small radical intermediates in polymerization systems. His first Postdoctoral Fellowship was with Prof. Ken O’Driscoll at the University of Waterloo, Canada, his second with Prof. Anton German at Eindhoven University of Technology in The Netherlands. He then was recruited as the Scientific Officer at the University of Sydney, Australia with Professor Bob Gilbert, working on emulsion polymerization.

In 1999, he returned to the Eindhoven University of Technology as an Assistant Professor. There he led a research group that was the first to study and synthesize polymer nanoparticles in water with controlled composition and morphology using the Reversible Addition Fragmentation chain Transfer (RAFT) technology.  In 2002, Michael returned to Australia to work at Gradipore Pty Ltd on developing new membranes for protein separation. In 2004, he was awarded an ARC QEII Fellowship at UQ; in 2009 he was awarded an ARC Future Fellowship; and in 2015 he was awarded a UQ Vice Chancellor Fellowship.

Professor Monteiro has published over 200 peer reviewed publications and book chapters.

David H Paul Inc. Professional Development Training June 2016

Attendees at previous hands on training

Attendees at previous hands on training

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.

Reducing the Cost of RO Water Treatment is a new training course being offered for the first time in Australia. This advanced (Level 3) training addresses many of the common questions and consulting requests made to DHP training.

Training & Dates
Rio Tinto, Karratha, WA

Reverse Osmosis 101 (Classroom) Tuesday 7 June 2016

Pilbara Clearwater Alliance, Karratha, WA
Membrane Filtration 101 (Classroom, 1 day) Wednesday, 8 June 2016
Membrane Filtration & Membrane Bioreactors (Hands-on, 2 days) Thursday and Friday, 9 &10 June 2016

NCEDA, Rockingham, WA
Interpreting Water Analyses (Classroom, 1 day) Monday, 13 June 2016
Water and Wastewater Minimisation Technologies (Classroom, 1 day) Tuesday, 14 June 2016
Reducing the Cost of RO Water Treatment (Classroom, 3 days) Wednesday to Friday, 15-17 June 2016

Osmoflo, Adelaide SA
Reverse Osmosis 101 (Classroom, 1 day) Monday, 20 June 2016
Operation, Control and Maintenance of RO Units (Hands-on, 3 days) Tuesday to Thursday, 21-23 June 2016
Reverse Osmosis Specialist Level 2  Combine Reverse Osmosis 101 (1 day) and Operation, Control and Maintenance of RO Units (3 days) into one package to complete the DHP RO Specialist (Level 2) training.

More information is available on the AMSTS website.
Email or phone +61 431 666 534 to reserve your place now.

Drone footage of Sundrop Farms’ project

Solar field at Sundrop Farm in Port Augusta, South Australia

Solar field at Sundrop Farm in Port Augusta, South Australia

Drone footage of Sundrop Farms’ new 20 hectare farm being built in Port Augusta, South Australia is now available.  The grower started planting their first crop in March this year.

The site includes four 5ha controlled greenhouses, a desalination plant and solar field comprising of a 115 metre high tower and more than 23,000 mirrors reflecting the sun’s energy.

The 20 hectare site will be the first of its kind globally, employing approximately 175 people and producing more than 17,000 tonnes of tomatoes annually using solar power, seawater and natural pest management.

Recent Publications


The following journal articles were published:
1. Blandin, G., H. Vervoort, P. Le-Clech, and A. R. D. Verliefde. 2016. Fouling and cleaning of high permeability forward osmosis membranes. Journal of Water Process Engineering 9:161-169.
2. Blandin, G., H. Vervoort, A. D’Haese, K. Schoutteten, J. V. Bussche, L. Vanhaecke, D. T. Myat, P. Le-Clech, and A. R. D. Verliefde. Impact of hydraulic pressure on membrane deformation and trace organic contaminants rejection in pressure assisted osmosis (PAO). Process Safety and Environmental Protection. In press.
3. Jeong, S., K. Cho, H. Bae, P. Keshvardoust, S. A. Rice, S. Vigneswaran, S. Lee, and T. Leiknes. 2016. Effect of microbial community structure on organic removal and biofouling in membrane adsorption bioreactor used in seawater pretreatment. Chemical Engineering Journal 294:30-39.
4. Keremane, G. B., J. M. McKay, and E. Ettehad. 2015. Hearing from the People on the Collective or Private Governance of Urban Freshwater in Australia. Water Utility Management International 10 (4):17-21.
5. Li, S., H. Winters, S. Jeong, A.-H. Emwas, S. Vigneswaran, and G. L. Amy. 2016. Marine bacterial transparent exopolymer particles (TEP) and TEP precursors: Characterization and RO fouling potential. Desalination 379:68-74.
6. Michel, D., F. Xiao, L. Skillman, and K. Alameh. 2016. Surface Plasmon Resonance Sensor for In Situ Detection of Xanthan Gum. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics 22 (3):1-4.
7. Naidu, G., S. Jeong, and S. Vigneswaran. 2015. Interaction of humic substances on fouling in membrane distillation for seawater desalination. Chemical Engineering Journal 262:946-957.
8. Piyadasa, C., T. R. Yeager, S. R. Gray, M. B. Stewart, H. F. Ridgway, C. Pelekani, and J. D. Orbell. 2015. The effect of electromagnetic fields, from two commercially available water-treatment devices, on bacterial culturability. Water Science and Technology.
9. Phuntsho, S., J. E. Kim, M. A. H. Johir, S. Hong, Z. Li, N. Ghaffour, T. Leiknes, and H. K. Shon. 2016. Fertiliser drawn forward osmosis process: Pilot-scale desalination of mine impaired water for fertigation. Journal of Membrane Science 508:22-31.

The following theses were published:
10. Blandin, G. 2015. Combining Desalination and Water Reuse with Pressure Assisted Osmosis, School of Chemical Engineering, The University of New South Wales, Sydney.
11. Wyld, P. 2015. Understanding the Effects of Crevice and Galvanic Corrosion for Seawater Desalination Plants Management, Facility of Science and Technology, Deakin University.
12. Reis, R. 2016. Surface modification of thin-film composite membranes by direct energy techniques. Institute for Sustainability and Innovation, Victoria University.

Forthcoming events

Uni House at Woodward

OzWater16 – 10-12 May 2016, Melbourne

Desalination for the Environment, Clean Water and Energy – 22-26 May 2016, Rome

Singapore International Water Week – 10-14 July 2016, Singapore

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

9th IMSTEC 2016 – 5-8 December 2016, Adelaide

American Water Summit – 6-7 December, Miami, USA

International Water Summit – 16-19 January 2017, Abu Dhabi

Other News

Perth skyline

Perth skyline

Adelaide’s desalination plant considered a ‘tool’ to boost irrigation allocations during drought

Drought stricken California look to Australia for tips on recycling water

Osmoflo completes turn-key project to provide water to Omani people

Perth water usage plummets

The NCEDA’s 2014-2015 Annual Report now available for download.

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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