New research announced as Australian desalination centre opens

Funding for eleven new desalination research projects (see Research News for list) was announced when the Australian National Centre for Excellence in Desalination opened its Aus$ 5 million Desalination Research Facility and Desal Discovery Centre (NCEDA) at Murdoch University’s Rockingham campus near Perth.

The opening was performed by Western Australia’s water minister, Bill Marmion.

The new facilities, which were featured in D&WR‘s May/June 2011 issue, will be used by the centre’s scientists from 13 universities and the Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation working with industry to improve desalination technologies in a unique collaboration between state and federal governments.

The announcement, by the parliamentary secretary for sustainability and urban water, Senator Don Farrell, that the federally-funded centre has just offered Aus$ 3.8 million to fund 11 new desalination research projects across Australia, boosts the number of NCEDA projects to 33.

Recently appointed Murdoch University vice-chancellor Professor Richard Higgott made a surprise and very well received announcement during proceedings, bestowing a rare honorary professorship on NCEDA chief scientific officer David Furukawa for his outstanding pioneering contribution to desalination in Australia and worldwide over the past 40 years. It is only the third such award Murdoch has ever made.

NCEDA’s CEO, Neil Palmer, thanked the Western Australia state government, the Australian federal government and Murdoch University for their foresight and support in creating the centre’s new world-class facilities and welcomed the ongoing investment.

“Our centre scientists collaborate closely with industry to develop new commercially viable solutions. Industry is making significant cash contributions to a number of these projects which is very encouraging,” Palmer said.

“The new state-of-the-art Rockingham Desalination Research Facility will enable scale-up from bench to pilot processes, with potential for full scale commercial solutions,” he continued. “Our unique new Desal Discovery Centre will teach schoolchildren about water science, and how desalination works.”

The Desal Discovery Centre features an Edulab for hands-on water science run by a science educator, and a 3D multimedia conference centre with fly-through visuals of WA’s major desal plants. School tours begin in 2012, and a public open day will be held on 19 October 2011 as part of National Water Week.