Tunnel Borers

15th June 2007

According to this article there are 20 desalination plants on the drawing boards in California. The costs described by the article look like 1990’s costs. These costs have been more than halved in the last decade or so. A recurring problem suggested by the article is intake structures. See the article below on how the Australians are dealing with intake structures.



I really like the picture below. See how the Australians solve the problem of wee beasties harmed by salt concentrate.


The bore arrives at the desalination plant this morning.The bore arrives at the desalination plant this morning.

Tunnel borers arrive for Tugun desal plant

Tony Moore | May 31, 2007 – 2:30PM

The first of two German-built tunnel boring machines to be used at the Tugun Desalination Plant has arrived at Tugun to begin the tunnel “under the seabed”.

The two laser-guided machines, which utilise GPS technology, will dig the inlet and outlet tunnels for the seawater to be used in Queensland’s first desalination plant.

At Tugun, just to the north of Coolangatta Airport, two 70-metre vertical tunnels have been built to allow the project team to build two horizontal tunnels which extend about 1.5 kilometres out to sea.

Infrastructure Minister Anna Bligh said the Tugun project was on track to provide 125 megalitres of desalinated water by the end of November 2008.

“This project is critical to beating the drought and they (the workers) know it,” she said.

“This tunnel is being (worked on) 24 hours a day. This project is on track to meet its scheduled completion date of November 2008.”

The Queensland Water Commission project reports for April show the project will provide water at “33 per cent capacity” by November 2008, and “water at 100 per cent capacity” by January 15, 2009.

Ms Bligh said the Tugun project had several advantages over desalination projects elsewhere in Australia.

“A great benefit of the Tugun site is that unlike Sydney and other places, this is a marine tunnelling project, having minimal impact on the environment and local communities as the tunnels – which will be 70 metres underground – do not run under any privately-owned land,” she said.

Eleven kilometres of pipeline to connect the desalination plant to the Western Corridor Recycled Wastewater Project have been delivered.

Ms Bligh said the progress at Tugun did not mean the government was still looking at a concept for a desalination plant on Bribie Island.

“The issues in relation to possible other locations for desalination plants are quite complex,” she said.

“Every location has its own challenges. The issue with Bribie Island is that it is located close to a very shallow and important marine ecosystem – and that is Moreton Bay.

“Here at Tugun we can take the water about 1.5 kilometres out to the deep ocean where the brine can be distributed without any damage to the marine environment.

“Moreton Bay is a very sensitive fish and marine habitat. It is much more shallow and we are very, very hesitant about putting a desalination plant into that environment.

“There are no plans on our books for a desalination plant at Bribie Island.”


I mention drilling underwater in passing in an earlier at the end of an awkwardly named blog
California Solar’s Revolutionary Energy Business Model for Desalination Pumps

A study group priced the drilling at 2 million. But the length of the intake tunnels is likely 200 yards rather than 2000 yards as is the case in Australia.

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