Research and Development

R&D is at the heart of our mission to work with clients to develop, design, build and operate technologies and solutions for complex industrial waters. Our key staff are research trained, with both laboratory and field expertise.  Our in-house laboratory and research infrastructure means that we are uniquely positioned to perform leading edge R&D. We are proud that this is a key competitive advantage, and a critical service that we can offer to our clients.  Recent examples include:

Unconventional oil: Wastewater Futures was engaged by Queensland Energy Resources to work with them to develop a suitable treatment process for oil shale sour water.

Oil shale is produced from the kerogen in shale. Oil shale is typically mined and crushed, then processed in above-ground retorts to convert the organic kerogen bound within the shale to oil by pyrolysis. The vaporised oil is then cooled and condensed, but water that was associated with the raw shale is also condensed at the same time, becoming heavily contaminated in the process. Approximately 1 litre of sour water is created per litre of oil produced, depending on the total moisture content fed to the retort. The sour water produced contains high concentrations of ammonia, sulphur, chloride and TOC.  Wastewater Futures assisted with the concept design, performed laboratory evaluations and designed, constructed and operated a pilot plant.  The process concept design and the laboratory analysis is presented in Lea, Doyle and Ramsay (2015)1

Landfill leachate:  Landfill leachates are the liquid streams that are produced from solid waste landfills. They are high strength streams which present quite unique challenges. Landfill leachate treatment is a major, and growing, problem for many councils and waste operators around Australia. Many of these leachates are complex to treat, and the requirements for treatment (for regulatory compliance) are becoming more difficult to meet.  On-going R&D is focused on developing an innovative landfill leachate treatment solution, combining advanced biological and membrane technologies.

Unconventional gas:  Salt recovery techniques used by the coal seam gas (CSG) industry for the treatment of water are limited by the formation of scale. In particular, carbonate scale and silica scale are causing significant issues for water treatment used across the CSG industry. The CSG water treatment plant has been designed to avoid scale formation. However, field observations indicate that silica is forming and that the formation of silica scale is more complex than first realised. The specific objectives of this project are to (1) Understand the chemistry of CSG water impacts on the formation of polymerised silica and mineral silicates; (2) Establish the mechanism and kinetics for removing silica and silicates deposited on RO membranes using existing and innovative cleaning techniques; and (3) Identify the effectiveness and the mechanisms of antiscalants to mitigate polymerised silica vs mineral silicates.


1. Lea G, Doyle J and I Ramsay (2015). Treatability Studies on Oil Shale Retort Sour Water, Ozwater 2014, Perth, May 2014.