The ENERGY INNOVATOR series bring to your attention innovative technologies supporting the energy transition. Today's blitz interview is with Australian company JWA Oilfield Supplies, which has developed a solar-powered water treatment technology it called Flamingo.
Describe your product/solution
The Flamingo water treatment unit uses highly reflective massive mirrors shaped as a parabolic trough to focus solar irradiance on a patented multi distiller system to directly extract steam from waste streams, allowing purified distilled water and dried slurry outputs to be collected separately.
The novel process exploits thermodynamics principles and recycles the heat within the device to achieve a five-fold increase of throughput.
The water collected is cleaner than municipal standard, so this zero-carbon technology allows companies to not only reuse water for their own operations, but also to provide beneficial use of the treated water to the local communities, such as farming and irrigation, as well as rehabilitate ponds in water scarce environments – marking a major step towards creating a circular economy.
Unique to the technology is that the Flamingo can treat a different range of wastewater inputs at the same site and effectively remove the dissolved solids from the water and deliver distilled water as the output. Test results have shown that it is able to reduce the total dissolved solids (TDS) of wastewater from 200,000 ppm TDS to 12 ppm in a single pass.
On this basis the technology can be deployed to treat a wide range of inputs such as tailings dams, wastewater, brackish water, effluent, and saline water. Flamingo’s other distinctive feature of being able to separate dry solids also presents many potential opportunities for the mining industry to close the loop and recycle resources that would otherwise be classified as waste. For example, tailings from gold mines, usually highly toxic and currently only stored in an embankment dam, can now be economically treated to extract clean water, while the gold fines and other resources can be retrieved from the dried output collected separately. This zero-carbon tech presents an entire end-to-end solution to water management and waste recovery, with the treated water being of exceptional quality.
How far has it progressed?
We have gone beyond a working prototype and are now moving towards a pilot trial with Australia’s Bridgeport Energy for use at one of their oil and gas sites and have also secured another paid commercial job later this year.
The Flamingo water treatment unit has received a lot of interest from the resources industry since we introduced this new technology to the market. JWA received a AUD-250,000 grant from the METS Ignited Collaborative Projects grant backed by the Australian Queensland government last November and we were also one of the finalists in the innovation award organised by the Resource Industry Network, which is a one of Australia’s peak industry associations for the resources industry and its allied sector.
Manufacturing is progressing well with full production set to come on stream by September 2021 to handle global orders.
What markets are you targeting?
JWA’s first target will be to tackle waste streams generated by the resources sector, specifically to produce water from oil and gas drilling as well as to extract water from mine tailings. These two markets fit the definition of the low hanging fruit since they mostly operate in arid and drought prone areas. This means that the resource companies are spending a large amount of money to buy and transport water from further afield, and they also must deal with the challenge of treating large amount of contaminated water before it can be discharged.
Beyond the resources industry, we want to tackle bigger problems such as municipal water production for remote communities by extracting clean water from sewage sludge. Once we have success in that area, we will be able to go a step further and start treating effluent from the meat and livestock industry.
What are your priorities and goals for the rest of 2021?
Our top priority for the rest of 2021 is to see out the first two commercial paid jobs that we have lined up, as outlined above. Our working prototype has proven to ourselves that this technology works so now we need to prove to the industry that what we are offering is real and is possible to do.
The first job with Bridgeport Energy is a three-year commitment to clean up water from their oil exploration site in Queensland state. This treated water will be reused in the livestock industry. This project has already been given a grant from METS Ignited, which is a government-supported growth centre for the resources industry.
The second commercial project lined up is to clean out a 2 megalitre wastewater pit in Penola, South Australia. The pit was left behind by oil exploration activities and our purpose there is to dewater the pit, clean the water and separate out the drill cuttings and thus reduce the volume of waste that goes to landfills.
The third priority is to set the demonstration plant in Queensland, Australia. Once the plant is set up and the Flamingo units calibrated, we will be doing a research roadmap with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to independently validate the findings which we are claiming. The demonstration project will deliver invaluable performance data and an opportunity for customers to personally see the technology in operation.
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