Photovoltaic-powered desalination system for remote Australian communities
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This paper reports on the design and successful field testing of a photovoltaic (PV)-powered desalination system. The system described here is intended for use in remote areas of the Australian outback, where fresh water is extremely limited and it is often necessary to drink high salinity bore water. A hybrid membrane configuration is implemented, whereby an ultrafiltration (UF) module is used for removing particulates, bacteria and viruses, while a reverse osmosis (RO) or nanofiltration (NF) membrane retains the salts. The concepts of water and energy recovery are implemented in the design. Field trials, performed in White Cliffs (New South Wales), demonstrated that clean drinking water was able to be produced from a variety of feed waters, including high salinity (3500 mg/l) bore water and high turbidity (200 NTU) dam water. The specific energy consumption ranged from 2 to 8 kW h/m3 of disinfected and desalinated drinking water, depending on the salinity of the feed water and the system operating conditions. The optimum operating pressure when filtering bore water was determined to be in the range 6–7 bar.