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Are we the Clever Country?: Overview of Portland desalination plant concept

Friday, 27 April 2007

Overview of Portland desalination plant concept

Graham recently sent me a copy of the overview he provided to Malcolm Turnbull and ABC:

Many in Govt have been shying away/ruling out Desalination as just too costly - meanwhile the nation is dying of thirst!!

I am a Health Scientist (Medical Imaging) and a former Analyst with the Dept of Defence (with a special interest in Infrastructure) living in Portland VIC.

In the Health Service, when we deal with dehydrated patients we don't worry about the cost - we stick an IV (Intravenous Therapy) drip into their arm and get them back onto the road to recovery -- the same principle applies here!!

Our Dehydrated Nation needs Urgent IV Therapy!!

I have been working on two scientific papers concerning the current long term and worsening drought situation since winter 2006 - construction of a Thermal Desalination Plant at Portland VIC.

Whilst I realise that there are efforts under way to build the Goldfields/Superpipe as a solution for the Bendigo and Ballarat communities, I cannot identify any substantial Murray/Goulburn water storages that will be available to achieve this objective.

In any case, the Goldfields pipe will still be relevant, as any Portland Pipe can join up at Ballarat, and therefore pump water northwards -- hopefully the Engineers have included contingency plans for a South to North pumping capability!

Unless there is substantial rain, we are really facing a catastrophic situation for these rural cities and communities - and the outlook for regular, soaking rains that will alleviate this situation are nowhere in sight.

The attached article the News.Com newsfeed clearly indicates the dire situation.


The plan that I am proposing provides a constant, consistent and guaranteed source of freshwater.

Whilst Desalination Plants do have fairly significant construction costs, we have 2 special elements at Portland that will provide dramatic savings for the operating costs in Thermal Desalting.

1. An aluminium Smelter that draws down a full 10% of the entire Victorian Electrical Generation capacity - heats molten Aluminium to 960 deg C and then lets the ingots cool off to Ambient temperature, without any process to capture and then use this heat for any other industrial purpose!

2. A proven Geothermal resource 1,300 metres under Portland that provides water at 62 Deg C.

3. The Low Temperature (LT) Multi-Effect Distillation (MED) process only requires the seawater feed to be heated to 65 deg C before fresh water is produced!!

The first document to read is entitled "Recycling - Hot Topic or Just Hot Air?"

The second one is entitled "The Clever Country - Dying of Thirst"

Whilst I have specifically dealt with construction of a Thermal Desal Plant in Portland VIC, it is really a template for the whole nation --- the principles of cogeneration etc will apply anywhere on the Australian Seaboard that has Power Stations and/or Heavy Industry co-located. If they have Geothermal resources nearby, then the operating costs become even cheaper.

In Queensland, the Aluminium Smelter at Gladstone would be ideally suited for a cogeneration project of this nature, given that Brisbane is on level 4+ restrictions.

Input welcome...

Kind regards

Graham Bates

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