Purifying contaminated water

MDRI alumni Dr Michael Smith has been working on an idea to create a water-efficient treatment system for remote desert dialysis. Michael did his PhD on the subject under Prof Karen Reynolds’ supervision and thanks to funding from water-bodies in WA and non-profit Purple House his ideas have now been realised.

The treatment system has been installed in Kiwirrkurra (Australia’s most remote community) and the first  patients are now being treated. The remote community of the border of Western Australia and the Northern Territory were advised to only drink boxed water because the local tap water has unsafe levels of fluoride. Drinking the water can cause long-term health issues, especially for older people.

People on dialysis require large volumes of extremely clean water therefore they have been forced to move to Alice Springs, 800 kilometers away to receive treatment.

Michael discovered a way to purify contaminated water for dialysis using reverse osmosis. At this stage it cant be used at a scale that would fix the community’s water supply but it was a welcome development and the new technology is being used in new remote units and will be retrofit in clinics where water security is a serious concern.

Michael was awarded the Australia Water Association R&D Excellence Award in 2022.

Click here for the ABC story

Aerial view of the remote community of Kiwirrkurra

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