Project to reduce desalination costs receives grant

A research project at Flinders University that promises to reduce the energy and maintenance costs of desalination has received a grant of $388,000 (£249,133) from the Australian National Centre of Excellence in Desalination (NCED).

The programme’s manager Dr Milena Ginic-Markovic said that two of the key problems that exist with current membrane technology are biofouling and mechanical degradation of the membranes.

‘The objectives of this three-year project will be to develop a coating for commercially available membranes that will inhibit biofouling and/or biofoulant growth or reproduction, and to design and synthesise a ‘universal’ additive for membrane materials, which will significantly reduce the compaction experienced by current…polymeric membranes,’ Dr Ginic-Markovic said.

‘By introducing a thin layer of coating and nanoparticles in the membrane system, we can improve the flow of water, reduce the need for cleaning and strengthen the membrane structure.’

If the potential reduction of biofouling by 75 per cent is achieved, the energy bill of a desalination plant will be reduced by up 30 per cent, downtime for cleaning could be halved and the life of the membranes extended from two to 10 years.

The NCED, based at Murdoch University, is a Commonwealth Government sponsored consortium of research and industry partners.