Australian SWRO firm signs MoU for Saudi pilot

Australian desalination start-up Water Resources Group (WRG) announced on 4 December 2012 that its subsidiary Water Resources International (WRI) had signed a memorandum of understanding with Knowledge Industry Company (KIC) of Saudi Arabia.

WRI will supply its Advanced Seawater Reverse Osmosis Desalination System (ASWRO) to be powered by hybrid wind and solar energy systems. To kick-start the agreement, WRI will supply and operate an ASWRO pilot plant for a major client in Saudi Arabia.

KIC is developing community-scale desalinated water-supply projects using power from renewable energy sources. To penetrate the local market, KIC is funding the installation and commissioning of the first ASWRO plant in order to secure exclusive commercial supply rights from WRI.

The commercial-scale pilot plant, which is expected to be operating in the third quarter of 2013, aims to demonstrate the economics of powering WRG’s chemical-free, low-cost modular system by hybrid wind/solar energy. The group currently does not have a plant in commercial operation.

Within a participation and supply agreement due to be finalized by the end of 2012, WRI will manufacture and supply commercial-scale ASWRO systems to KIC with production capacities of 20,000‑40,000 m³/d. These systems are capable of servicing the needs of towns, industries and regional property developments.

The feature that WRG hopes will sell its ASWRO package, which is otherwise a normal SWRO system, is its Plasma Chemical Reactor (PCR), which is a device for creating low-cost ozone from ambient air for pretreatment. This would be effective on difficult organics and might reduce biofouling.

However, Neil Palmer, CEO of the National Centre of Excellence in Desalination Australia warns that care needs to be taken with this approach “because ozonating or chlorinating/dechlorinating organics without effective removal just makes them more tasty to the bugs.”

WRG, which was launched in 2007, has its technical and manufacturing operations based in El Dorado Hills, California, USA.