Award-winning Solar Powered Desalination Unit aims to solve Central Australian water problems

Nov 04, 2005

An innovative and award-winning technology designed for remote communities reliant on brackish groundwater recently underwent field testing and optimisation in the Northern Territory.

The Reverse Osmosis Solar Installation (known as ROSI) combines solar energy with membrane filtration to provide a reliable and clean drinking water stream from sources such as brackish bores.

Renewable energy overcomes the usually high energy operating costs as well as greenhouse emissions of conventional reverse osmosis. ROSI can also remove trace contaminants such as arsenic and uranium that may cause a range of health problems, and minerals such as calcium carbonate which causes water ‘hardness’.

Project leader Dr Andrea Schaefer from the University of Wollongong’s Faculty of Engineering said ROSI has the potential to bring clean water to remote communities throughout Australia that do not have access to a town water supply and/or the electricity grid.

ROSI was tested on water sources of varying quality throughout Aileron and Ti Tree in the Northern Territory, so it can be optimised for different water qualities and solar radiation conditions.

ROSI has been developed at the University of Wollongong in collaboration with the Australian National University (ANU), and staff from both universities, as well as a number of students, have been participating in the field trip. The Desert Knowledge Co-operative Research Centre is also involved with the project and provided important logistics support.

Financial and in-kind sponsors have included UOW, ANU, the NSW Department of Commerce, GHD Consulting, BP Solar, and the Department of Environment and Heritage’s Community Water Grants project team as well the Australian Research Council Linkage Scheme with Mono Pumps (Australia).

ROSI has received international recognition for its innovative approach to remote community water treatment. In May 2005 ROSI was awarded a prize in the Mondialogo Awards in Berlin, run by UNESCO in collaboration with Daimler Chrysler which funded part of this implementation in Australia.

In 2003 ROSI was awarded a prize in the ‘Water’ category of the Energy Globe Awards held in Linz, Austria.



ROSI in action in the Northern Territory

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