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Solar powered reverse osmosis desalination for remote communities

Harrison, D. (1989) Solar powered reverse osmosis desalination for remote communities. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

Many Aboriginal Outstations in Western Australia have bores which produce drinking water of such a low standard that the health of the community members is at risk. Major concerns are the high concentrations of sale, nitrates and fluoride and bacteriological contamination. Communities faced with this problem have four choices. They can sink another bore nearby in the hope of finding better water, which would be expensive and not necessarily successful. They can physically move to another location which would be socially and culturally disruptive. They can accept the risk and drink the water untreated. Recent innovations in reserve osmosis desalination now make it possible to treat the water on site using solar power.

The appropriateness of this new technology for remote locations is analysed. A means of predicting the power requirements of a unit capable of supplying the drinking water needs of a small community, estimated at up to 1 m3 per day is derived. A small commercially available unit was tested and it was found that in summer it could produce a steady flow of over 5 L/hour for 10 hours per day when used with a solar tracker and a power optimiser. Two designs were developed which could supply the desired 1 m3 flow rate from the power of two 55 W solar panels. A prototype of one design has been constructed and early testing demonstrate that is is capable of producing up to 400 L/day even at low pump efficiencies. Minor improvements are likely to substantially improve production in the near future.

Publication Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Supervisor: Ho, Goen and Mathew, Kuruvilla
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/40085
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