A company that has pioneered low cost solar desalination systems for industry and the home is about to start production of the units by November and already has around 5000 units on order.

Peter Johnstone, the inventor of the Carosell desalination system and owner of F Cubed Pty Ltd which will commercialise the units,  said his company has signed a lease over 5000 square metres of factory space at Melbourne’s Somerton Logistics Centre through CB Richard Ellis senior negotiator, Matthew Sampson.

Mr Johnstone said the units were capable of producing 12-15 litres of distilled water for the home every day for a fixed one-off cost of $300. In commercial quantities the cost would be around $2 per 1000 litres.

He said the South Australian government was considering a plant to supply all of the water for a remote town of around 3300 people.

Even in major urban facilities such as Sydney’s desalination plant, FCubed’s product could be installed for a similar price but have no running costs.

“We’re competitive with the desalination plants in Sydney, in Melbourne and the Gold cost, but we have no operating costs [compared to the $100 million a year or more in electricity cost estimated to run the Sydney plant].

Peter Johnstone

“Obviously we need more land. But Adelaide has lots of [low cost] land next to the water.”

Mr Johnstone said the system was a refinement of age-old distillation techniques in water, with a major advantage of being highly efficient.

“We put all the energy into the water we are processing – and it could be sewage or salt water and then we evaporate it and then condense it so it’s got nothing in it.”

The solar panels being used would be cheaper than photovoltaics, he said.

“A photovoltaic panel costs around $2000 a square metre to produce and we’re at $50 a sq m, so we’re five per cent of the cost and 50 per cent more efficient.”

Units on order were mainly from Rotary and UN agencies keen to export them to overseas locations that suffered from poor drinking water.

Raftex modular hexagonal panels, the first product of its kind to stop evaporation in any size water storage system

Mr Johnstone said he was an entrepreneur and was using his own money for the venture, around $4 million which was the proceeds of a packaging company, Integrated Packaging, which he sold last year.

CBRE’s Matthew Sampson said the accessibility of the Somerton estate had been one of the key drawcards for occupiers such as F CUBED. He said there was a shortage of larger, high quality industrial buildings which were ready for occupation within a short time frame.

“The estate’s proximity to the Craigieburn Bypass and the P&O operated inland port is a major drawcard for potential occupiers, and further growth is expected as the region benefits from the relocation of the Melbourne Wholesale market,” Mr Sampson said.

Mr Johnstone can be contacted on 0409 215 440 or https://www.fcubed.com.au/

tperinotto@thefifthestate.com.au
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