Masdar green desalination competition kicks off

All four participants in the competition to develop sustainable means to meet the United Arab Emirates’ potable water demand have begun operating small-scale experimental desalination plants at a pilot facility set up by the competition organizer, Masdar, in Abu Dhabi.

Abengoa, Suez Environment, Sidem/Veolia and Trevi Systems began operating their membrane- based projects at Al Ghantoot with a combined capacity of 1,500 m³/d, seeking to reduce their energy to two-thirds of that of a standard desalination plant.

Under the terms of the competition the participants each have a target of less than 3.6 kWh/m³ – the average non-renewable energy desalination plants run at about 5 kWh/m³.

The project enables the participants to test the viability of powering desalination stations through renewable energy. The test-site uses solar energy for the heating stage of desalination, but it is the second stage – osmosis – which the companies will be aiming to refine. And each participant is aiming to make use of the by-products in the brine effluent.

“In our region, water is more important than oil and we are trying to find solutions to address that,” said Masdar’s chief executive, Dr Ahmad-Belhoul.

Masdar will assess the results of each projects after a year and a half, and select one to scale up to commercial size.