Previously, the high costs associated with desalination has hindered interest in abundantly available seawater as a potential fresh water source.
The AU$ 324 million facility, located in Kwinana, Australia, 40 kilometers South of Perth became fully operational on April 18th 2007 and is operated by Degrémont in alliance with the Water Corporation of Western Australia. The FILMTECTM seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) and brackish water reverse osmosis (BWRO) elements from Dow used at the facility help enable desalination of 140,000m³ of seawater per day. It i s the largest such plant in the southern hemisphere and the largest in the world to be powered by renewable energy - in this case wind power
The advancements in the SWRO membrane technology in the last 20 years have dramatically reduced energy usage, lowered overall treatment costs and raised water quality. The improvements achieved by Dow - enhanced membrane thoughput, higher rejection of dissolved solids and organics, reduced pressure requirement - have helped cut the cost of water produced with reverse osmosis (RO) nearly threefold while increasing water volume, purity and membrane service life.
The FILMTECTM technology allows Degrémont to provide high purity water to the residents of Perth in an affordable way. The Perth plant shows that desalination can be an effective and affordable option for producing water in water-stressed regions as well as in municipalities looking to diversify their water supply sources.
Energy requirements for desalination plants could be a constraint. Dow has refined its membranes to be more energy efficient. The energy used is electricity, not thermal, and can be and is supplied by renewable energy sources.
The FILMTECTM elements combine excellent membrane performance with automated precision fabrication, enabling higher solids and organics rejection, lower energy usage and higher consistency. The optimal design and reliabilty of FILMTECTM elements reduce system capital and operating costs, making reverse osmosis desalination more affordable.