Masdar pilot desalination programme inaugurated in Abu Dhabi

Masdar desalplantlaunchMasdar’s pilot desalination programme at Dhantoot, Abu Dhabi has officially been inaugurated, which will produce 1,500 cu/m per day of potable water every day for the next 15 months with the use of energy-efficient and new technologies 

The Abu-Dhabi based clean energy solutions provider launched the programme in 2013 with Spain’s Abengoa, France’s Suez and Sidem (Veolia) and USA’s Trevi Systems. The project entails the use of innovative and advanced technologies to achieve the production of clean water.

Masdar chairman and UAE minister of state Sultan Al Jaber said, “With a rapidly growing population and economy, the UAE leadership recognises that water is a precious and crucial resource in ensuring sustained economic and social growth. Developing innovative technologies that can sustainably source clean water is vital, not only for the UAE, but for the Gulf and many other regions of the world. With this programme, the UAE is actively and responsibly addressing the challenges of water conservation, management and security.”

The project is of great significance to the UAE as seawater desalination requires more energy than surface freshwater production. Moreover, the demand for freshwater is projected to grow by 30 per cent in the country by 2030. Project officials chose Ghantoot as the project site, mainly due to its proximity to deep seawater.

Two categories of seawater desalination technologies have been included in the programme – advanced seawater desalination technologies, based on commercially proven systems that are being adapted to lower specific energy consumption; and innovative seawater desalination technologies, which include concepts that are new to the market. The entire project goes a step beyond R&D, and is considered Research, Development and Transformation (RDT), which incorporates new technologies, added project officials.

Trevi Systems CEO John Webley said, “This installation marks an important milestone in the development and deployment of Forward Osmosis technology, which will enable renewable desalination to be deployed in the Gulf and elsewhere. Without the steadfast and financial support of Masdar, it would not have been possible for a small company such as Trevi to gain acceptance of our technology.”

The desalination project is expected to reduce up to 40 per cent of energy usage for the processes, and lead to annual cost savings of around US$94mn from 2020 onwards, said project officials. The pilot expects to lower energy consumption to less than 3.6kWh/m3 of energy for reverse osmosis (RO) plants, at a seawater salinity of 42,000 mg per litre. Energy consumption is proportional to the salinity of the water, and the salinity in the Gulf is extremely high.

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