Research Advisory Committee

At the time of the NCEDA’s closing in September 2016, the following people were members of the Research Advisory Committee:

Mr Rhett Butler (Chair) (2010-2016)
Chairman, SkyJuice Foundation

Rhett ButlerRhett Butler has over 25 years experience in the international water industry. He began his career in water with Memtec Limited in 1986 where he occupied various roles, including Regional Manager for NZ, Indochina, Korea, South Africa and Middle East. He spent 8 years with Vivendi Water (now Veolia Water), a world leading water and wastewater service, where he became the General Manager, Sales Marketing and Business Development. Mr Butler is an experienced water engineer well-versed in technology and start-up companies water industry strategies and international water policies. He is the Founder and Chairman of the SkyJuice Foundation, a not for profit organisation which manufactures and supplies re-usable potable water treatment units for developing countries, third world water supply, disaster relief and emergency water supply. He is also Chairman and Director of Aquasynergy Solutions Pty Ltd and Managing Director of Ravia Pty Ltd. Mr Butler has degrees from Sydney University, the University of New South Wales and Deakin University.


Mr Tymen Brom (2012-2016)
Commercialisation Manager, NCEDA

Tymen Brom has over 20 years corporate business, legal and scientific experience including successful research and development, progression of innovative technologies and commercialisation.

Mr Brom’s roles have included Operations Manager, IP Manager, Patent Attorney and Metallurgist for organisations such as Excalibur Steel Company, Q Technology Group, Watermark, Bradken Mining and West Australia Specialty Alloys. He has advised numerous businesses from start-ups to large corporate clients from direct IP advice to corporate strategy and route to market. Mr Brom has extensive commercialisation experience and has advised in the negotiation of international distribution and technology transfer agreements.

Mr Brom is Registered Patent and Trademark Attorney, a Member of the Institute of Materials Engineering Australia, and has qualifications from Curtin and Murdoch universities, the Institute of Patent and Trademark Attorneys Australia and TAFE.


Mr Gary Crisp (2010-2016)
Director Business Development Sacyr, Washington DC, USA

Gary CrispGary Crisp is a Civil Engineer with 32 years of water engineering experience. Mr Crisp was involved with Water Corporation desalination projects for 9 years from 1998. He prepared the Water Corporation’s desalination strategy and associated reports in 1999/2000, “A Strategic Review of Desalination Application in Western Australia” and “Desalination a Viable Resource”. He was the Water Corporation’s Design Manager seconded to the Multiplex Degremont JV during the project development stage of the Perth Desalination Project (144 ML/day SWRO), a plant awarded the Global Water Intelligence Membrane Desalination Plant of the Year 2007. He participated in the Burrup Fertilisers Project, the Kwinana Water Reuse Plant and numerous small RO plants. In 2005 Mr Crisp was appointed to head the Water Corporation’s Desalination Centre of Expertise Section. In another project, Mr Crisp spent 7 months in the UK with a major desalination contractor involved in the design of the world’s first large SWRO plant with UF pre-treatment.

Mr Crisp has been instrumental in Australia’s desalination thrust and has appeared on many national and international media programs to promote desalination.

In 2007 Mr Crisp was appointed as Desalination Technical Leader with GHD Pty Ltd, one of Australia’s top multidisciplinary engineering consultants with offices worldwide. In September 2007 he was seconded to the Gold Coast Desalination Plant as Chief Technical Officer for Sure Smart Water, the owner of the plant. The plant was commissioned in 2009 and was awarded the Global Water Intelligence Membrane Desalination Plant of the Year 2009. In 2009 Mr Crisp was promoted to Global Business Leader: Desalination at GHD and is currently bidding for projects worldwide. In 2007 Mr Crisp was elected as WA Engineer of the Year in recognition of his desalination endeavours. Also in 2007 he was elected as a Director of the International Desalination Association, (Australia’s first elected Director).

Mr Crisp is now based in the USA where he is the Director for Business Development at Sacyr in Washington DC.


Mr David Furukawa (2010-2015)
Founding Chief Scientific Officer, NCEDA

David FurukawaDavid Furukawa has more than 40 years of desalination technology experience in both public and private sectors. He is Chairman of the Research Advisory Board, National Water Research Institute; Vice-moderator of the Research Advisory Council, Middle East Desalination Research Centre; Past-President and Director of the International Desalination Association and American Desalting Association (now AMTA), and life member of AWWA. He has more than 60 publications and is patented in the field. His company, Separation Consultants, Inc., provides technical, management and strategic business consultancy.


Dr Wendell Ela (2015-2016)
Professor of Desalination and Water Treatment, Murdoch University

WendellEla_Dept (3)Professor Wendell Ela was recently appointed Chair of Desalination and Water Treatment at Murdoch University (NCEDA’s Administering Organisation). In addition to this role he has been engaged as the Chief Scientific Officer of the NCEDA, replacing Professor David Furukawa who retired at the end of 2014.

Wendell comes from the University of Arizona where he led teaching and research on water and wastewater treatment processes.  Particular areas of work have included desalination technology development and implementation, heavy metals release and removal, treatment and fate of contaminants of emerging concern in natural and engineering systems, decentralized and off-grid water treatment systems, and integrated water/renewable energy solutions for rural communities and agriculture. Prof. Ela recognises the importance of water security to the world and has developed a passion for desalination in remote areas using renewable energy.

His vision for the NCEDA is that the Centre will continue to build on its legacy of undertaking ground-breaking research that finds tangible solutions to national and international water challenges. The NCEDA will transition away from being a research funder to become a research enabler and will build on its existing networks to connect industry, water utility and research communities. It will link academic excellence with innovative industry and support research project development, becoming self-sustaining through commercialisation, industry partnerships, & unique educational capabilities.


Dr Thomas E. Hinkebein Ph.D. (2010-2016)

Tom Hinkebein Photo (3)Thomas E. Hinkebein received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Washington, Seattle in 1976 followed by a distinguished thirty-year career at Sandia National Laboratories. During his last 10 years at Sandia, Dr Hinkebein was the Water Treatment Lead for the Advanced Water Treatment program at Sandia and became manager of the Geochemistry Department where he oversaw all water treatment activities at Sandia. He also managed several lab directed research and development programs which explored novel concepts in desalination.  Additionally, Dr Hinkebein was responsible for coordinating the development of a technology roadmap for future research in desalination technology. This National Roadmap was developed in conjunction with the Bureau of Reclamation for all regions in the US. Dr Hinkebein also contributed to the Energy and Water Nexus Roadmapping effort. The roadmapping concepts developed at Sandia have gained international acceptance and have been applied in North Africa, the Arab States, and Israel and now Australia. Since retiring from Sandia Laboratories, Dr Hinkebein formed a consulting company, Hinkebein and Associates. His company specializes in underground storage of materials in salt, and in desalination roadmapping.  Dr Hinkebein is the author of over 100 technical papers.


Professor Sandra Kentish (2010-2016)
Head of Department, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Sandra KentishSandra Kentish is a Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at The University of Melbourne. In October 2012, Professor Kentish was appointed Head of this Department. She is also an invited Professor at the Centre for Water, Earth and the Environment within the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS) in Canada. The focus of Sandra Kentish’s research career is the field of separations processes and more specifically the use of membranes in these applications. She leads a node of the CSIRO Water for a Healthy Country Flagship – Advanced Membrane Design cluster, which is focused on the reduction of energy demand in desalination systems. Within this cluster, Prof Kentish’s research is focused on the fouling potential of reverse osmosis membranes. She is also the Discipline Leader for membrane technology within the CRC for Greenhouse Gas Technologies. In this role she has conducted extensive studies on solubility and diffusivity within both polymeric and carbon membrane systems. She is also an inventor on two recent patents for novel gas separation membrane materials. She has conducted extensive research in dairy membranes systems with a focus on ultrafiltration, nanofiltration and microfiltration systems. Prof Kentish is the author of 87 refereed publications (66 journal papers) and 4 patents, yielding over 300 citations (ISI). She is an Editorial Board member for two international journals (Recent Patents in Chemical Engineering and Food Engineering Reviews) and a reviewer for a further 16 international journals. She collaborates with a range of industrial sponsors including Burra Foods Australia, Nufarm, Biofuels, Alcoa World Alumina, Dairy Innovation Australia and Industrial Galvanizers Limited.

Prof Kentish is a founding Board Member of the Australasian Membrane Society which was formed in late 2008.


Mr Blair Shackleton (2010-2016)
WA Market Leader, Water GHD

Blair ShackletonBlair Shackleton has over 25 years of experience within the Water and Power industries.

Mr Shackleton started his career within the water industry working with Western Power as a Chemist progressing to a Senior Scientist. One of his major projects with Western Power included the Muja Power Station waste water zero discharge plant. Mr Shackleton was directly responsible for the process development and environmental aspects as well as the involvement in commissioning and support to the operations team.

Mr Shackleton was previously employed by WorleyParsons as a Principal Scientist within the WP Water Group and was the Lead Process Engineer and Team leader for the Southern Seawater Alliance. Mr Shackleton has extensive experience in water treatment unit operations, sustainability and environmental management, water chemistry, potable & power station water system design, water quality, sampling and analysis, project management, commercial evaluation processes and project commissioning. He brings key technical knowledge in the in the areas of fundamental process selection, design and optimisation of water treatment unit operations, water chemistry and impact on process design and optimisation, potable and power station water system design and sustainability and environmental aspects of water treatment.

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