A brilliant water-saving invention by UNSW engineering academic Greg Leslie and agricultural scientist Bruce Sutton has finished among the nation's favourites for 2011 on the ABC TV program, The New Inventors.

ROSDI, the Reverse-Osmosis Sub-surface Drip Irrigation (ROSDI) system created by Associate Professor Leslie, of the School of Chemical Engineering, and Professor Sutton, an Honorary Professor at the University of Sydney and a Visiting Fellow at UNSW, was among the final three inventions featured in The New Inventors national grand final. More than 80 inventions were profiled by the program during the year.

After deliberation by a panel of judges, ROSDI was beaten to the Inventor of the Year prize by the Swing Gate, a safety gate for cattleyards. However the irrigation system was commended by judge and scientist broadcaster Bernie Hobbs as an innovation that could "open up a whole heap of Australia for growing crops".

ROSDI allows salty water to be used in crop irrigation without energy-intensive water treatment. The system uses uses pipes made from reverse-osmosis membrane, like that used in desalination plants, to filter salt from brackish groundwater for crop irrigation in times of drought or low water availability.

The system uses the suction force created by a plant's roots to draw water through the membrane, dispensing with the need for pumping.

ROSDI also won the Eureka Prize for Water Research and Innovation in 2010 and the technology is now being commercialised by NewSouth Innovations, UNSW's technology commercialisation company.

Media Contact: Peter Trute, UNSW Media Office | 02 9385 1933 | p.trute@unsw.edu.au