In Kuwait, Giant Plant Takes the ‘Waste’ Out of Wastewater
In Kuwait, which has no permanent rivers or lakes, and little rainfall, its underground water aquifers are considered a strategic resource. To protect this resource, most potable water is provided by desalination.
However, to alleviate pressure on this energy-intensive water source, it’s essential to develop highly efficient wastewater recycling facilities to provide water suitable for use in industrial and other non-potable water applications such as groundwater recharging; landscaping of golf courses, freeways, playgrounds, schoolyards, and parks; construction; dust control; irrigation of fodder crops; wildlife habitat improvement and aquaculture.
The urgency to expand wastewater recycling is compounded by water demand that is increasing at approximately 6% a year, even as Kuwait already has one of the highest rates of per-capita water consumptions in the world. Currently, water recycling produces half as much water as desalination, the largest water source in the country.
GE is providing key technology to a record-breaking expansion of the Sulaibiya Wastewater Treatment and Reclamation Plant — which after a just announced expansion using GE technology, will once again become the largest-of-its-kind membrane technology facility in the world.
GE will provide ZeeWeed 1000 submerged hollow-fiber membranes and AG LF low-fouling reverse osmosis (RO) membranes for the plant that will enhance its production capacity from 375,000 to 600,000 cubic meters per day. That’s as much as the water in 240 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
The hollow-fiber and reverse osmosis membranes will not only help the plant process a huge volume of wastewater, but it also improves efficiency and provides low capital, operating and lifecycle costs. What’s more, because the technology uses fewer chemicals and produces less residual waste than a comparable conventional facility, the plant’s environmental footprint is smaller.
Operating the plant is less expensive than a more conventional system, in part because the membranes require fewer cleaning cycles compared to conventional brackish membranes, and can benefit from increased time between cleanings by up to 50%. They feature a unique coating technology that improve cleaning cycles, reducing pressure and friction on the surface of the membranes, making them resistant to organic fouling.
When then original plant was commissioned in 2004, it was the world’s largest to use reverse osmosis and ultrafiltration membrane-based water purification. Once this new expansion — undertaken by Kharafi National — is completed, Sulaibiya will again claim the title of world’s largest reverse osmosis plant of its kind.
GE has established numerous long-term business partnerships in Kuwait’s healthcare, aviation, energy and oil and gas sectors during a period of nearly eight decades.