Renewable energy powered membrane systems: Inorganic contaminant removal from Australian groundwaters

Laura Richards, B. S. Richards, A. I. Schäfer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    A photovoltaic powered ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis system was tested with a number of natural groundwaters in Australia. The objective of this study was to compare system performance at six remote field locations by assessing the impact of water composition and fluctuating energy on inorganic contaminant removal using a BW30-4040 membrane. Solar irradiance directly affected pressure and flow. Groundwater characteristics (including TDS, salts, heavy metals, and pH), impacted other performance parameters such as etention, specific energy consumption and flux. During continual system operation, retention of ions such as Ca2+ and Mg2+ was high (> 95%) with each groundwater which can be attributed to steric exclusion. The retention of smaller ions such as NO3- was affected by weather conditions and groundwater composition, as convection/diffusion dominate retention. When solar irradiance was insufficient or fluctuations too great for system operation, performance deteriorated and retention dropped significantly (< 30% at Ti Tree). Groundwater pH affected flux and retention of smaller ions (NO3- and F-) because charge repulsion increases with pH. The results highlight variations in system performance (ion retention, flux, specific energy consumption) with real solar irradiance, groundwater composition, and pH conditions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)239-250
    Number of pages11
    JournalMembrane Water Treatment
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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