Solar/MED design aims to desalinate CSG water

A three-way partnership in Australia has entered a solar-powered desalination system for the coal‑seam gas (CSG) industry into the Australian Innovation Challenge being run by Shell and The Australian newspaper.

Impact Building Systems (IBS) of Queensland, the University of Western Australia (UWA) and the National Centre for Excellence in Desalination Australia (NCEDA) have combined a medium‑temperature solar collector with a multiple‑effect distillation (MED) system.

The patent-pending collector, developed by IBS, offers substantial energy cost savings and, in combination with the advanced MED plant (patent pending) developed by UWA and NCEDA, is said to offer improvements in freshwater yield by 20‑40% over conventional MED systems.

NCEDA’s commercialisation manager, Tymen Brom, says the solar thermal desalination technology is designed to replace fossil‑fuel‑powered reverse osmosis currently used in the purification of CSG‑affected water. As well as substantially reducing greenhouse‑gas emissions during the purification process, the new technology will enable beneficial reuse of CSG‑produced water for agricultural and industrial purposes, and support sustainable water balance in those ecosystems.

The CSG industry is predicted to extract some 7,500 million m³ of co‑produced water from Queensland’s groundwater systems over the next 25 years requiring purification.