GE and Saudi Aramco launch challenge to find innovative solution for desalination

desal Melody Ayres-Griffiths flickrGE ecomagination and Aramco Entrepreneurship have launched global technology challenge worth US$200,000 to encourage new solutions to improve the energy efficiency of seawater desalination

The joint release stated that current desalination techniques are energy intensive, as energy consumption can account for up to 70 per cent of the desalination costs. The global production of desalinated water uses approximately 75.2 terawatt-hours of electricity per year, enough to power nearly seven million homes.

The goal of this challenge is to identify novel ways to lower these costs around the world, either through technology advances, process improvements, or both, said GE and Saudi Aramco.

The open innovation challenge also aims to identify new solutions to lower total desalination costs and emissions through cleaner energy sources, using advanced materials and integrating processes better.

Four winners will be awarded a prize of US$50,000 each, and further investments towards commercialisation of the best ideas amongst all submissions will be considered, added reports.

Nabil Al-Khowaiter, director of special projects for Aramco Entrepreneurship, said, “Finding a more efficient method of desalinating seawater will be a game-changer in our collective pursuit of a more sustainable energy future across the globe. Due to increased water scarcity, countries around the world are poised to rely more and more heavily on desalination as a means to provide fresh water. With current techniques, this increased reliance could contribute dramatically to increased energy use.”

This challenge would also encourage the influx of new technologies pertaining to seawater desalination, added Saudi Aramco.

Deb Frodl, global executive director of GE ecomagination, said this challenge was meant to inspire the intelligentsia — scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and innovators to pool their talent and ideas. “GE ecomagination is investing to speed up the development of more sustainable solutions for water desalination,” Frodl added.

Reports added that this challenge also received endorsement from the Saudi Arabian Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC), which owns and operates around 25 per cent of the entire world’s desalination capacity.

Abdulrahman Al-Ibrahim, governor of SWCC added that the theme of this innovation competition is in line with SWCC’s objective of reducing the cost of desalinated water in the kingdom.

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