The Gold Coast Desalination Plant … research project there could make 'fundamental advances' in knowledge of coastal processes
The Gold Coast Desalination Plant … research project there could make 'fundamental advances' in knowledge of coastal processes
27 June 2012

A University of Queensland (UQ) research project to help improve the cost efficiency of the Gold Coast Desalination Plant was launched earlier this month and is now in full swing.

The project will look to identify operational cost efficiencies while maintaining the plant’s environmental performance , with a key focus on reducing costs during hot standby operation.

Lead researcher Dr Badin Gibbes, from UQ’s School of Civil Engineering, said the project aimed to optimise the economic and environmental performance of desalinisation facilities.

“This research project is quite exciting, as it will allow us for the first time, to combine environmental sensing systems with advanced numerical models to better understand the performance of the plant,” Dr Gibbes said.

The research project was one of 10 innovative desalination research projects announced by Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, Senator Don Farrell, in mid-May.

It forms part of the Australian Government's National Centre for Excellence in Desalination Australia's $2.7 million injection to research projects on desalination.

Dr Gibbes said the research project combined the School of Civil Engineering's substantial water resources and environmental engineering expertise with the group's world-class coastal engineering research capacity.

The research team's Dr Alistair Grinham said he was excited about the offshore deployment of environmental sensors to monitor water quality and hydrodynamic processes.

“Collecting data in these types of environments and at the level of detail that we have planned, is quite a challenging task,” Dr Grinham said.

“That we can now confidently deploy these systems is a great example of the advances that have been made in recent years by water resources and environmental engineering research groups at the University.”

Collaborators of the UQ research project include owner of the Gold Coast Desalination Plant, Seqwater, international engineering consultant BMT WBM and Veolia Water, which deliver and manage water and wastewater infrastructure.

“Working closely with these industry partners, we will perform a series of large-scale experiments at the Gold Coast Desalination Plant,” Dr Gibbes said.

The research team includes UQ Coastal Engineering Group's Dr David Callaghan, Associate Professor Tom Baldock and Associate Professor Peter Nielsen.

Dr Callaghan said the project could make fundamental advances in the knowledge of coastal processes.

“As a result of the data we collect, we hope to make significant progress in our understanding of the mechanisms that drive mixing wave dominated environments,” Dr Callaghan said.

The research project will be completed by June 2014.

Media: Dr Badin Gibbes (, +61 7 3365 9151) or Madelene Flanagan (, +61 7 3365 8525)