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Membrane Water Treatment
  Volume 2, Number 4, October 2011 , pages 239-250

Renewable energy powered membrane systems: inorganic contaminant removal from Australian groundwaters
Laura A. Richards, Bryce S. Richards and Andrea I.Schafer

    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 retention, 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.
Key Words
    brackish groundwater; photovoltaics; reverse osmosis; specific energy consumption; solar energy
Laura A. Richards, Bryce S. Richards : School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, EH14 4AS, United Kingdom
Andrea I.Schafer : School of Engineering, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH9 3JL, United Kingdom

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