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Biomass-powered zero liquid discharge desalination of brackish water

Harper, Grant (2018) Biomass-powered zero liquid discharge desalination of brackish water. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Desalination is accepted as being a necessary technology to support the livelihood of communities. However, to prevent the harmful environmental impacts of brine, desalination needs to be designed with zero liquid discharge being the process rather than an afterthought. Existing approaches are often found to be inadequate and significant amounts of research into ways to prevent liquid waste are currently in place. The challenge is that the technology must be able to treat post-RO salinities (usually with high amounts of thermal energy) to be able to overcome the low heat capacities and high boiling points of saline solutions >70,000 mg/L.

This research honours project investigates a proposal developed by Enerbi Pty Ltd that incorporates heat, mechanical and electrical energy into a desalination unit that is powered by Biomass and produces a Zero Liquid Discharge product. The system was modeled in Excel and ChemCad and found to successfully produce a dry product with moderate quantities of biomass. The proposal was then modelled to treat 60ML per year under various scenarios using two particular types of Biomass, Plantation Waste, and Oil Mallee crops. These scenarios included high-value agricultural and horticultural crop scenarios using desalinated water for irrigation and salinity, with salinity problems on site being amended via saline water uptake and intervention crop planting.

The design was carried further to a Pilot Plant configuration specified using ‘off the shelf’ products, and the Pilot Plant design included upgrading the power configuration to allow for additional equipment. The Pilot Plant configuration was tested up to salinities of 85,000mg/L. It was found to successfully cope with this salinity, the most likely upper limit due to heat requirements of evaporation of hyper-saline solutions. A final concept 3D model was created to assist with placement and configuration.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Information Technology
Supervisor(s): Bahri, Parisa
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