Postgraduate Profiles

Alexander Christ

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Thesis: Development of a novel low-grade heat-driven desalination technology

Many countries, including Australia, are suffering from water scarcity. One part of the solution to counteract this issue is water desalination. However conventional systems are energy intensive and fossil or nuclear powered. On the other hand, sedimentary basins like the Perth Basin can offer geothermal sources, which might not be economical for power generation, but are sufficient to drive low grade heat applications (< 90˚C). Thermal desalination technologies appropriate for these temperatures already exist for non-geothermal applications. However, considering the special conditions of geothermal systems (which also apply for waste heat), the Western Australian Geothermal of Excellence has worked out a novel concept for an improvement in freshwater yield -- on the order of 30% and more.

The aim of my PhD project is to push this technology towards an implementation and commercialization. This will be done via two major phases: (1) Development of a simulation model to validate the novel concept and evolve the optimal system design; (2) Construction of a container-sized pilot plant to evaluate the simulation under real conditions while gaining operational experience

Why my research is important

Both, sustainable water and energy supply are key issues of our society. By using renewable energies such as geothermal energy and waste heat to power the energy intense desalination process, my PhD project combines both challenges in a seminal manner. It will lead to an effective solution to provide water for remote and rural communities, remote mine sites (both for drinking and mineral refining), and the water intensive process industry.

Funding

Oct 2010