A pilot plant at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia is researching how to purify bore and industrial wastewater
The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia has opened a pilot plant at Banyo to study technology for removing salts from bore water, industrial wastewater and sea water to produce high-quality drinking water.
According to Mirage News, QUT researchers from the Institute for Future Environments have been working with Japanese chemical conglomerate Asahi Kasei for three years on the technology that uses solar energy or low-grade waste heat produced by industry to remove dissolved salts from water samples.
The pilot plant will have the ability to process 1000 liters of water a day through a process called membrane distillation system, according to Mirage News.
Professor Graeme Millar, from QUT’s Science and Engineering Faculty, heads the research team that has developed a system that uses Asahi Kasei membranes.
One of the advantages of the system is that it can use industrial “waste” heat, which is heat produced as a byproduct, and use that to distill the water through the membranes.
“We can tap into that and make water on the spot for the companies,” Millar said to Mirage News.
Millar said future applications of the new membrane technology included treatment of coal seam gas associated water, bore water in remote communities, reverse osmosis brine and seawater to produce high-quality drinking water.
According to Mirage News, the process being tested in the pilot plant that has been commissioned at the QUT Banyo Pilot Plant Precinct uses heat and a membrane that filters out the salts.
“Agriculture is the major consumer of freshwater resources in Australia,” Millar said. “Consequently, there is a need to develop means to use impaired water resources such as coal seam gas associated water for irrigation purposes.”
Millar also said the planned design of a commercial module built using this system would be able to convert 1 million liters a day of water, with uses ranging from installations at mining, agricultural and industrial sites to portable solar-powered units that could be used by emergency services in the wake of natural disasters.
“It offers low-cost water treatment for remote communities,” Millar said. “It’s about taking those brackish waters and making them drinkable.”