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CSIRO, Australia's top scientific research organization has formed an alliance with thermal desalination specialist, Aqua Dyne, Inc. to conduct research into water purification and water remediation, which will initially focus on the use of solar energy for water desalination.
The first step will involve the relocation of the Aqua Dyne pilot plant, from Staplyton (half way between Brisbane and the Gold Coast) to CSIRO's Queensland Centre for Advanced Technology in the Brisbane suburb of Pinjarra Hills.
The flexibility of the Aqua Dyne Jet Water system design allows it to be used for a wide range of desalination requirements ranging from seawater, brackish groundwater and remediation of industrial waste water, as well as the ability to co-generate with a variety of industrial plant and equipment.
The Aqua Dyne plant, which will be located at the CSIRO research facility, is expected to be in operation in June this year with the solar research project to be completed towards the end of 2005.
The CSIRO Division of Exploration and Mining will be responsible for the research activities with Commonwealth funding to be applied for on a project-by-project basis.
This will be a world-first research plant with the solar energy project having enormous potential for remote mining areas and more widely for remote townships in coastal and inland Australia and throughout the world.
CSIRO Research Scientist Pat Glynn said that combining known solar technology to the Aqua Dyne thermal desalination technology has very wide potential as it overcomes the greenhouse gas issue which occurs as a result of the use of electricity or diesel power for desalination.
"Our initial research indicates that we will need solar collecting panels of 1000 square meters in area to produce 1/2 mega liters of desalinated water per day," Glynn said. "This size will also produce surplus steam with the potential to run a generator capable of an output of sufficient electricity that could be used in the mine, or township, or sold to the grid."
"The other potential benefit is that the use of solar projects has the potential to slash the price of the desalinated water by 50 to 60 percent to only 15 to 30 cents per kiloliter which compares to the 70 to 80 cents currently charged by Queensland Councils for water derived from rainwater stores in dams."
"If we take this financial modeling even further into the agricultural sector we could even be contemplating the potential future drought-proofing of Australia," Glynn said.