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On-farm desalination: Halophyte and evaporation pond for reverse osmosis brine disposal

De Paz, Rowel (2019) On-farm desalination: Halophyte and evaporation pond for reverse osmosis brine disposal. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Management of brine/reject from reverse osmosis (RO) systems has always been a major concern among the engineering and scientific community. The brine disposal of the RO in the arid region was the main concern in this thesis. The small scale RO plants, located inland need to work out different methods of a brine disposal.

The most common method to disposal brine on a small scale inland desalination plants is with evaporation ponds. But, the evaporation pond can be expensive and land-intensive. This thesis considering the potential way to minimize the area requirements of evaporation ponds by proposing a halophyte wetland upstream of an evaporation pond. Since halophyte can survive into the salty water, the brine from the RO unit can be fed into the wetland which would reduce the flow into the evaporation pond, consequently reducing the evaporation pond area.

An on-farm, solar-powered, small scale (500 L/hour) brackish water RO unit was set up at the Muresk Institute, Northam. The halophyte wetland was designed to reduce evaporation pond area requirements. A previously detailed evaporation pond design model was used to model the evaporation pond based on the outflow from the halophyte wetland. The evaporation pond reduced the size land area from 626 m2 to 353 m2 and saved 273 m2 of land area. The halophyte wetland has reduction area benefits for the evaporation pond. The halophyte wetland was modeled for 431 m2 land area for all seasons and fit to plant 86 old man saltbush (Atriplex nummularia).

The evaporation pond with halophyte wetland has the potential to give an extra source of income to the farmers. The seeds of the old man saltbush were used for food sources of aboriginal people and the plant used for livestock grazing. The salt harvesting in the evaporation pond estimated 10 t of salt in every summer season for industrial purposes.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation: Environmental and Conservation Sciences
Supervisor(s): Anda, Martin, Ela, Wendell, Brezger, M. and Ravisankar, Vishnu
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