An ongoing energy efficiency trial, in Abu Dhabi, of four new desalination plant designs is to get a fifth participant.

French engineering firm, Mascara, will add its 30 m³/day, small-scale solar-powered plant to the trials at Ghantoot in Abu Dhabi, run by Abu Dhabi renewable energy firm, Masdar according to a report in WWi magazine.

Mascara has used eight reverse osmosis (RO) elements provided by Dow.

President of Mascara, Marc Vergnet, said he was expecting the project to consume 2.8 kWh/m³, which would be significantly below the 3.6 kWh/m³ from Masdar for the other four desalination projects.

It will be the first in Ghantoot to connect solar power to the desalination process and is scheduled to be in operation by May.

The four projects currently in operation are being run by Spanish firm Abengoa, French companies Sidem (Veolia) and Suez and US firm, Trevi Systems.

Senior manager at Masdar, Dr Alexander Ritschel, said: “Desalination plants in the UAE are mainly thermal and aged. There needs to be a transition to membrane-based desalination technology, which is more efficient than thermal processes installed sometimes up to 40 years ago.”

He also said Mascara was hoping to “avoid pre-treatment” ahead of the RO membranes. And the project will be intaking the water from a borehole, which will act as a “natural filter” for the seawater.