Research Profile: Professor Wendall Ela

March 18, 2017

Professor Wendell Ela is researching small-scale, local solutions to the world’s water shortage.

According to estimates, global demand for water is expected to double by 2050, with a shortfall in supply hitting 40 per cent by 2030 alone. Even more concerning, 40 per cent of the world’s population already live in water-scarce regions.

While the problem is significant and global, Professor Wendell Ela suggests solutions may be small-scale and local.

As Murdoch’s inaugural Chair of Desalination and Water Treatment and Chief Scientific Officer of the National Centre of Excellence in Desalination Australia, he’s out to put theory into practice in Western Australia’s drought-hit Wheatbelt.

“I’m working on a project designed to determine the region’s water portfolio, including impaired groundwater, with an aim to deploy small on-site desalination units for specific farms,” he said.

“These would be powered by renewable energy sources, so they would be self-sustaining and would reduce the need for piping in water, thus making better use of local resources, economically and environmentally.

“It is water-intensive industries such as agriculture and mining where we’re going to see the most change in terms of innovative water use and small-scale desalination in the future.”

Professor Ela came to Murdoch in 2015 from the University of Arizona, drawn by WA’s water challenges and the commitment of the university and local stakeholders to find research solutions.

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