Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

Senator the Hon Don Farrell

Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water

Investing in Australia's desalination industry

Media release
21 December 2010

The National Centre of Excellence in Desalination has awarded nearly $3 million in funding to research projects investigating ways to advance desalination technology.

Announcing the Centre's second round of funding today, Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, Senator Don Farrell, said the projects were an important investment in securing future water supplies for all Australians.

"The projects announced today demonstrate how the National Centre of Excellence in Desalination is delivering on its mission to develop and commercialise new desalination technologies, with emphasis on the energy efficiency of the desalination process," Senator Farrell said.

The 12 projects include research into improving membrane performance, new types of desalination for remote areas, forward osmosis for simultaneous production of water and fertilizer, and solar powered desalination for rural communities.

National Centre of Excellence in Desalination CEO Neil Palmer said "the Centre is delighted with the strong response of the Australian research and business communities to work together on projects that will make water supply in arid areas more reliable and economical."

The Centre's investment of nearly $3 million in funding for the 12 projects is expected to generate significant in-kind and industry contributions toward ongoing research activity.

"Investing in research and development is crucial to developing a sustainable desalination industry in Australia," Senator Farrell said.

"Desalination is an important component of securing water supplies in Australia - it can provide water all year round, regardless of rainfall.

However, we need to continue to improve the desalination process, in particular energy efficiency."

The Australian Government has committed $20 million in funding over five years to the National Centre of Excellence in Desalination, through the Water for the Future initiative.

Chair of the National Centre of Excellence in Desalination, Graeme Rowley, said "the Centre represents an excellent opportunity for Australia to be a world leader in commercial and technical development of desalination resulting in the provision of clean water to a thirsty world."

Details of the 12 research projects are attached. For more information on the government's investment in the National Centre of Excellence in Desalination, visit

National Centre of Excellence for Desalination funded research projects
Project Title Project Leader Other Research Participants
Development of Cleaning Guidelines for Desalination Membrane Users Victoria University Integrated Elements, Nalco Australia Pty Ltd
Non-Brittle Ceramic Hollow Fibre Membranes Monash University The University of Queensland
Mitigation of Membrane Biofouling Using Natural Polysaccharide Surface Coating CSIRO -
Development of Universally Applicable Coatings and Additives for State-of-the-Art Reverse Osmosis and Pre-treatment Membranes: Non-Leaching, Antimicrobial, Low Biofouling, Chlorine Resistant and Improved Compaction Properties Flinders University Siemens, SA Water, Wind Prospects,
Real Time Detection and Management of Biofouling Conditioning Films in Seawater Reverse Osmosis University of New South Wales InPhaze Pty Ltd, SA Water, Sydney Water, University of South Australia
Fertilisers as Draw Solutes for Forward Osmosis Desalination: A Novel Approach for Fertigation in the Murray Darling Basin University of Technology, Sydney CSIRO, Korea University, NSW State Water Corp, Yale University
Optimising Low-Pressure Membrane Pretreatment for Desalination University of New South Wales Curtin University, Siemens Water Technologies Australia, Veolia Water Australia, Water Corporation
Silica Removal from Groundwater for Reverse Osmosis Water Recovery Enhancement and Waste Brine Volume Reduction Victoria University Hatch Associates, Origin Energy, Minara Resources, University of Texas, El Paso
Application of Capacitive Deionisation in Inland Brackish Water Desalination University of South Australia LT Green Energy, Power and Water Corporation, SA Water, Water Quality Research Australia
Control of Organic Membrane Fouling Through Limitation and Control of Extracellular Microbial Products Murdoch University Environmental Biotechnology Cooperative Research Centre, Singapore Membrane Technology Centre, Nanyang Technological University Singapore, University of California, Irvine, WA Chemistry Centre
Tjuntjunjarra Remote Inland Indigenous Community Solar/Waste Energy Groundwater Desalination Project Murdoch University Institute of Filtration and Techniques of Separation, France, memsysclearwater distribution Pte Ltd, Parsons Brinkerhoff, Singapore Membrane Technology Centre, Nanyang Technological University Singapore, University of Technology, Sydney, WA Department of Housing
Assessing and Mitigating Environmental Impacts of SWRO Outfalls on Key Benthic Marine Organisms Deakin University University of Western Australia

For more information on Water for the Future visit