Norwegian desalination barge venture seeks Israeli expertise

Norwegian company, EnviroNor, is recruiting Israeli expertise to provide the water-processing technology necessary for its project to convert secondhand oil barges into floating desalination and wastewater treatment plants.

According to founder and chief executive officer of EnviroNor, Sigmund Larsen, floating treatment plants would be a cheaper way to purify water supplies, particularly in regions threatened by water scarcity and where land for desalination plant is lacking. “It’s cheaper to convert a ship to desalination or wastewater treatment plant than to do it onshore,” he said, noting that the planning process in most countries is significantly shorter for offshore infrastructure.

He explained that the venture combines Norwegian maritime and oil and gas know how with Israeli proficiency in desalination and wastewater technologies. “Norway and Israel can collaborate more both on a political level and industrial level,” said Larsen.

Larsen has met with Israel’s national infrastructure, energy and water minister, Silvan Shalom, as well as representatives from the ministry; the water authority; the economy ministry; national water corporation, Mekorot; and other water companies.

The ships, he said, can hold facilities, capable of purifying wastewater at up to 500 Ml/d which could accommodate about 2.5 million people.

The company was near to closing an agreement with Mozambique on a pilot site for the first of the wastewater treatment barges, Larsen said. He estimated that the first first barge should be up and running by the end of 2017.

”The environmental advantage here is that we are reusing a vessel. When we can extend the life of a ship from 25 years to 60 years, that is quite a big contribution to the environment.


While the floating facilities require energy to operate, a portion of the activity of the wastewater treatment plants can be driven by biogas collected from the wastewater purification process itself, Larsen explained.

Desalination, he said, cannot be considered to be an environmentally friendly process since it requires a lot of energy from non-renewable sources such as natural gas or fuel oil.

The company foresees four types of barge: the Reliever, the Gamechanger, the Water factory and the Emergency relief vessel.

The Reliever would treat wastewater from shore for release into the sea according to the environmental guidelines of a given country. Larsen said. This could replace a medium-sized processing plant and could be particularly beneficial as a backup when an onshore facility is under repair Larsen said.

The Changemaker would be a long-term installation that delivers treated wastewater back to shore for use in agriculture or as drinking water following tertiary treatment. It would be suitable when land area for such treatment facilities onshore was scarce. And biogas extracted from the wastewater treatment could be used to power about 25-40% of the process, he claimed.

The Water factory would be a small unit that could produce drinking water from river water and would, according to Larsen, be particularly useful in areas where drinking water was scarce.

Finally, the “Emergency relief vessel” could convert seawater into potable water in disaster struck areas.

The EnviroNor project has been listed by Norwegian environmental infrastructure classification society DNV GL as an “extraordinary innovation project,” and is receiving support from the Norwegian government’s development instrument for Norwegian enterprises and innovations, Innovasjon Norge.


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