Solar thermal desal is promising

Well it is, right here in Perth.

The University of WA has been working with the National Centre of Excellence in Desalination Australia and an Australian enterprise, Impact Building Systems of Queensland, developing a concept to do just that.

Low-temperature thermal desalination is an exciting new technology that promises to reduce significantly the energy costs of desalinating groundwater and seawater.

Conflating with solar technology can also provide mobile onsite power for communities or industries needing freshwater supplies in regional and remote areas.

Our research project is specifically designed to create desalinated water from low temperature. The hope is that such a system coupled with solar collectors would be capable of replacing, or at least supplementing, fossil fuel-powered reverse osmosis in the treatment of brackish groundwater and increase freshwater yield from the desalination process.

We have just entered our new solar thermal desalination concept unit into The Australian Innovation Challenge. The theme this year is ‘innovation for people’.

Now in its third year, the challenge has attracted entries from researchers in laboratories and start-up companies around the country, from people making a difference in lecture theatres, classrooms and the community, and from backyard heroes inventing in their spare time.

NCEDA, which funds the project, is funded by the Australian Government via its National Urban Water and Desalination Plan, supporting more than 45 desalination research projects involving 60 Australian and 30 international industry partners.

Its Desal Discovery Centre in Rockingham offers schools and public the opportunity to tour a small desal plant and education laboratory to learn about the desalination process and see water science and experimental solar desalination firsthand.

Many people may not realise it, but Australia’s main desalination plants are offset via the purchase of green energy.

This new solar thermal desal concept promises to enable desalination plants of the future the opportunity to produce their own economical clean power.