The way industry uses water could be revolutionised by a cleansing system developed by Professor Mikel Duke and his research team at Victoria University’s Institute for Sustainability and Innovation.
The technology, known as membrane distillation, can be used to recover water and resources from industrial waste. It uses hardly any electricity and saves huge amounts of water.
The system has shown to be effective in live trials conducted at Newport Power Station. Similar tests are underway to test its efficacy in the mining, manufacturing and food industries.
The essence of the technology is that it works by blocking salty waste water from passing through a thin plastic membrane.
As it is water repellent and contains very small pores in the order of a tenth of a micrometre, clean water vapour passes through the membrane and is collected as desalinated liquid water on the other side.
“It’s about trying to get fresh water out at a lower cost and in a simplified system,” explains Professor Duke. “It will be a saving of 90 per cent of the waste water.”
The team partnered with Pinches Industries in Melbourne to develop the patented system as a commercial prototype that could be industry-ready as early as next year.
This development will be a significant milestone in a research project that has been underway for more than eight years.
The possibilities for commercial success cannot be overstated. VU is already investigating opportunities here and in China.
But for Professor Duke, the real win will be for the environment.
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Professor Mikel Duke
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