As the world’s population continues to increase and the effects of climate change become more severe, stress on existing natural water supplies will escalate. Whilst water covers most of Earth’s surface, not all the water available is fresh or drinkable. There are many parts of the world currently experiencing water shortages and drought conditions combined with water supplies that are unfit for human consumption.
Alternative water sources are needed to ensure water quality for communities, industry and agriculture is sustainable. Water treatment and seawater desalination can provide an alternate source of drinking water by reducing water contamination and removing salt and impurities to produce fresh water.
Due to energy consumption, converting sea or brackish water into potable water is more costly than obtaining fresh water from surface water, water recycling or water conservation. However, these alternatives are not always available.
We are playing a key role in protecting and increasing one of Australia’s most valuable resources by developing several new treatment technologies that use renewable energy and are environmentally friendly and inexpensive, including techniques for:
Other new techniques like high-temperature reactions achieved in low-temperature water and low energy desalination are also being developed.
We've developed several new water technologies based on improved desalination processes and efficient wastewater treatment processes. We have also produced several international Patent Cooperation Treaty applications and submitted several provisional patent applications, which have led to the establishment of new local companies: ‘Breakthrough Technologies’ and ‘Breakthrough Water Technologies’.
We've also produced many international journal articles. During this time Professor Barry Ninham AO FAA, who works closely with our group, was awarded the Academy of Sciences’ 2017 Matthew Flinders Medal.
We have several new technologies that are expected to have widespread applications for both community and industrial development in Australia and overseas including:
We have successfully extended the hot air bubble process to a range of other gases, which are shown to offer a range of different properties. For example, CO2 can sterilise solutes (even viruses) even at low temperatures. Hot oxygen (O2) bubbles can oxidise solutes and can kill bacterial cells. We have also discovered hot helium (He) bubbles can reduce the hydrogen (H) bonding in seawater, enhancing vaporisation.
We also have two current externally funded post-doctoral positions and are in negotiations with a commercial group interested in developing the fire suppressant technology.
R. Wei, R. M. Pashley, ‘An improved evaporation process with helium inlet in a bubble column evaporator for seawater desalination.’ Desalination 479, 114329 (2020).
M. Taseidifar, A. G. Sanchis, R. M. Pashley and B.W. Ninham, ‘Novel water treatment processes.’, Substantia 3(2), 11-17 (2019).
M. Taseidifar, M. Ziaee, R. M. Pashley and B.W. Ninham, ‘Ion flotation removal of a range of contaminant ions from drinking water.’, J. Environ. Chem. Eng. 7, 103263, (2019).
A. Garrido, R.M. Pashley and B.W. Ninham, ‘Virus and bacteria inactivation by CO2 bubbles in solution.’ , NPJ Clean Water (2:5, 2019).
F. Makavipour, R.M. Pashley and A.F.M. Mokhlesur Rahman, ‘Low-Level Arsenic Removal from Drinking Water.’, Global Challenges. 3(3), 1-8 (2019).
R.M. Pashley, J. J. Antony and M. Taseidifar, ‘The prevention of fluid cavitation’, PCT application Published 25 October 2018, WO 2018/191790 A1.
F. Makavipour, M. Taseidifar, R.M Pashley and Rahman A.F. M. Mohklesur., Method for removing heavy metals from an aqueous solution.’ PCT/AU2017/051145.
R.M. Pashley, A. S. Garrido and B.W. Ninham, ‘Sterilization method’, PCT: Published: WO 2019/104383 A1. 6 June 2019.
R.M. Pashley, M. Taseidifar and T. Gettongsong, ‘Resin for Desalination and Process of Regeneration’, PCT: WO 2020/118371 A1. 18 June 2020.