Masdar research boils up hot idea for water desalination
Amid the UAE’s celebration of Innovation Week, which kicks off Sunday, students at the Masdar Institute are working on projects to support the development of the Emirates, including drinking water made from geothermal energy.
However, using this resource as a desalination method, or removing salt from water to make it potable, is under-explored. Savvina Loutatidou, 26, from Greece is trying to change that. “Solar desalination will be implemented in the UAE, but I … thought it would be interesting to know about other [methods],” said the researchr and PhD candidate at the Masdar Institute.
The consumption of desalinated water in Abu Dhabi has nearly doubled over the past decade to 1.126 billion cubic metres from 667 million cubic metres, according to Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi. Yet the price associated with desalination is often high because it is an energy intensive project.
And the geothermal resources present in the UAE is of the low temperature kind – up to 150°C compared with up to 300°C for high “enthalpy”, or temperature, resources – which means it would not be viable for power generation but more suited for direct applications such as cooling and desalination. However, geothermal in the UAE is not yet proven to be cost competitive for desalination even though there are potentially huge fuel savings compared with conventional methods. “If we can get the cost down enough to compete with other sources, then maybe it could be possible,” said Ms Loutatidou.
So far, her research has shown that in the UAE geothermal desalination with low-level temperatures will cost approximately US$2.50 per cubic metre.
Ms Loutatidou is hoping that with more research and development costs can fall. Currently the price for thermal desalination can run from $0.67 to nearly $1.50, according to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology.
“It may not be applicable in the UAE now, but maybe in the future,” said Ms Loutatidou. “I think innovation is … about identifying needs for now and for the future.”
NOVEMBER 22 EVENTS
• Launch of UAE Energy Outlook
• Masdar City: Launch of The Catalyst, the Middle East’s first start-up accelerator focused on sustainability
• Dubai Media City announces in5 Media Incubator
• in5 Prototype innovative business models using disruptive tools. At Internet City
• in5 SME Friendly Business tools to help you manage, grow and scale your business. At Internet City
• In5 Why some businesses fail and what you can do about it – now. At Internet City
• Securities & Commodities Authority holds an Innovation Open Day
• The Abu Dhabi Technology Development Committee opens its Innovator Space
• Future Intelligence – Innovations In Banking with Emirates NBD
• The launch of the Hospitality Innovation Lab, TBC
• Official Launch of the Government Communication Team
• Introductory presentation of the innovation seminar delivered by Major-General Abdul Quddus Al Obaidli, commander in chief assistant of quality and excellence affairs at the Chamber of Commerce
• Real Estate Licensing and Registration system, MYCYCD
• Announcing the Permenant Innovation Committee
• Amlak’s Innovation Week
• Ministry of Economy, Exhibition featuring Registered Innovators and Inventors in the UAE
• Crescent Enterprises, Arab Social Entrepreneurship Programme (ASEP), TBC
• Dubai Statistics Center, Government’s Vision about Creativity & Innovation
• DP World Innovation week
• Ministry of Finance, The Launch of an Innovation Initiative
For more information visit: www.uaeinnovates.gov.ae/events
Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter
Updated: November 21, 2015 04:00 AM