Global Desalination Innovations Announced in Saudi Arabia
To say desalination is important to Saudi Arabia – not to mention the rest of the Gulf – is a huge understatement. Here’s one reason why: the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC), which supplies most drinking water in the Kingdom, owns and operates approximately 25% of global desalination capacity.
Add to this the high energy-intensity of this process and you get the picture, where treating even low-salinity seawater is about ten times greater than a typical freshwater source and nearly double the energy cost of treating wastewater for reuse.
That’s why today’s announcement of the winners of the Aramco Entrepreneurship Center and GE ecomagination global technology innovation challenge focused on renewable-energy seawater desalination was so important.
Four winning teams from five countries, including Italy, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands and the United States, were honored at the opening ceremony of the Saudi Water & Power Forum 2015.
The first global technology innovation challenge for Saudi Aramco and the fifth for GE, the competition awarded cash prizes and the opportunity to collaborate with GE, Aramco Entrepreneurship and others to develop and deploy the winners’ proposed solutions.
The competition attracted 108 innovative solutions from 32 countries. Reflecting the increasingly supportive environment for innovation in the Kingdom, as well as the expanding local capacity, Saudi Arabia applicants were the second largest group, after the United States.
Even submissions that didn’t win will be considered for possible incubation by a range of Saudi entities, including local organizations, entrepreneurs, and companies such as SWCC and independent power and water producers; as well as by GE, which will explore the technologies for potential regional application.
H.E. Abdul Rahman Al Hussein, Saudi Minister of Water & Electricity, announced the winners. He said that this Saudi-led initiative “demonstrates the leadership of the Kingdom in identifying and promoting energy-efficient solutions that will benefit the water and energy industry globally. The competition also highlights that Saudi Arabia is not only a consumer of technology but also a developer of innovative solutions in partnership with others.”
Winners are: Jaime Mateus – Anfiro (USA) for his team’s project on “Ultra-high permeability RO membranes for desalination,” Marco Rosa-Clot, Antonio Naviglio and Gianfranco Caruso of Florence University (Italy) for their project on “SHAMS-Titanium MED desalination project,” Kim Choon Ng of National University of Singapore with the researchers from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (Saudi Arabia) for the project on “Hybrid Multi-Effect Adsorption Desalination: An Emerging High Efficiency and Low Cost Desalination,” Norbert Kuipers, Albert Jansen, and their team – TNO (The Netherlands) for the project on “Simultaneous Production of Potable Water and Power from High Pressure Membrane Distillation driven by Solar Heat (CSP).”