UWA PhD student, Alexander Christ, is working with The West Australian Geothermal Centre of Excellence (WAGCoE) and the National Centre of Excellence in Desalination (NCED) to design a new desalination system.
Multi-Effect-Distillation (MED) is not new technology, but reverse osmosis is more commonly used as a large-scale desalination method. However, MED’s ability to run on low grade heat (65-90°C) means it has potential to use renewable energies sources like geothermal energy. This could be particularly important for remote mining projects where provision of electricity and potable water are costly exercises.
"Most desalination techniques are highly intensive so they require a lot of energy—they require mechanical energy,” Mr Christ says.
“With the MED process we can utilise heat direct without any transformation losses and we’re improving it exactly for the means of using low-grade heat.”
“MED is costly to set up but has relatively low running costs once it’s established and would use recycled low-grade heat energy.”
Mr Christ says this type of technology is receiving interest from industry and could be commercially viable in the near future.
The project has recently featured on the ScienceNetwork website and page 3 of September's State of the Future newsletter.
Sean Webb (Geothermal Centre of Excellence of Western Australia) 6488 2652
Michael Sinclair-Jones (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / 0400 700 783