Project Round
Project Number
42M - 2024
Research Organisation
Melbourne Aquarium

Recycling Water and Reducing Salt Discharge at the Melbourne Aquarium

The Challenge

Melbourne Aquarium is an entertainment and educational facility with world-class displays of Australia’s underwater life.

With funding from the Smart Water Fund, the Aquarium, in partnership with Nanotechnology Victoria, is developing a showcase for the demonstration and promotion of the latest water recycling and reuse technologies.

The Aquarium plans to save up to 10,000 litres of water a week by treating and reusing water from both fresh and salt water displays and reducing salt water discharge to the sewer by up to 2 tonnes per week.

Salt discharge to sewage is a significant barrier to recycling water from treatment plants, rendering the water unsuitable for secondary use in irrigation if salt levels are too high. By reducing salt discharge to the Werribee treatment plant, the Aquarium will be making the water easier to treat for reuse projects such as watering Melbourne’s parks.

The project will also tackle water conservation in fresh water displays, recycling treated grey water from display tanks for use in a specially designed grey water aquarium display, complete with fresh water plants and fish.

The Project

The latest developments in nanotechnology membrane filtration will be applied to remove nitrate and phosphate build up in the water to maintain a balanced, clean environment for fish and plants in the display tanks.

Nanotechnology is engineering at the molecular level, on a scale smaller than 100 nanometers or one billionth of a meter. The Aquarium project will incorporate anaerobic biological systems, nanofiltration membranes, high surface area mesoporous materials, hybrid methodologies and new photocatalysts with high surface area.

In addition to filtering and recycling tank display water, the aquarium plans to divert the main rainwater drainpipe from the building’s roof into a ground floor holding tank. The water will be stored with excess grey water and used to flush public and staff toilets within the facility.

The Outcome

To support these initiatives and share the learnings with the wider community, the Aquarium is developing an education program about the project. This will include a combination of interactive public displays and education packages for schools. The program will also provide information about what people can do around the home to recycle water and reduce salt discharge to sewage.

In partnership with NanoVic, the project will position Melbourne Aquarium as a leader in water saving technology for public aquariums, applying emerging technologies to the critical issue of water conservation.