Making every drop count

While the drought here may be over, demand for sustainable water technology in Australia and around the world continues to grow.

Victoria University Institute for Sustainability and Innovation director Professor Stephen Gray said there was an increasing reliance on water recycling for both industrial and urban uses and for future water security.

"While we have had recent rains, the long term outlook for Australia is reduced rainfall and growing population: meaning stress on water supplies and the need for more sustainable water technologies," Professor Gray said. "At the same time many countries around the world are needing to use poorer quality water supplies, and that is driving a growth in desalination business worldwide."

Worldwide capacity for purifying brackish and sea water in 2002 was 37.75 million m3/day of fresh water. Recent data from the International Desalination Association put that capacity in 2010 at 71.7 million m3/day and projected it would reach 100 million m3/day by 2020.

Speaking at the recent 7th Conference of the Aseanian Membrane Society in Korea, Professor Gray explained how increasing reliance on industrial waste-water reuse, water recycling for new urban developments and alternative water supplies in semi-arid areas provided opportunities for researchers dedicated to brine management.

The Institute for Sustainability and Innovation in Werribee was at the forefront of that research, he said.

"We are undertaking applied water research to solve local issues with global impact and work closely with our industry advisory board and industry partners to ensure our work is relevant," he said.

With nearly 20 membrane researchers on the Werribee campus, the Institute is ideally located near the Western Treatment Plant, Werribee irrigation district, large industrial complexes and new urban developments – all sites where the technology can be developed, test and applied.

Professor Gray said there was also growing demand for water recycling in mineral mining and dairy farming industries.

"It's an exciting time for applied membrane research and the Institute for Sustainability and Innovation is well and truly in the right place at the right time," he said.

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