x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 August 2017

Device could save 95% of water across UAE mosques

A new project aimed at saving millions of gallons of water in mosques every year is expected to take form in January.

Dr Ahmed Al Jaberi is the assistant professor in material science at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. He created a device that can save water in mosques during the ablution process. Delores Johnson / The National
Dr Ahmed Al Jaberi is the assistant professor in material science at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. He created a device that can save water in mosques during the ablution process. Delores Johnson / The National

ABU DHABI // A student and member of staff at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology say they can help to save millions of gallons of water used by mosques every year with a simple device.

The vessel, created by Dr Ahmed Al Jaberi, assistant professor in material science, can save up to 95 per cent of water during the pre-prayer ablution process, or wudu, and will be ready to be introduced in January.

“Each person consumes at least 25 litres every time they go to prayer,” he said. “That’s two cartons of water. If they do it five times a day, that’s 125 litres per day per person so that’s a lot of people in the GCC who waste millions of gallons every day.”

The vessel would limit users to 1.2 litres every day and could inspire worshippers to exercise restraint in using the resource.

Mohammed Al Musharrekh, 30, a PhD student in sustainability at Masdar, helped to develop the first prototype.

“We saw that a lot of water was being consumed during the ablution so we looked for a solution,” he said. “We had to do something here to save energy and water. That water is considered pure because we just wash our hands and face. There are no chemicals used.”

The water vessel can be attached to any wall, surface or tap. “The limit we put on it is 1.2 litres but we might lower it,” Dr Al Jaberi said.

“We’re thinking to give people the freedom to exercise self-restraint because the idea is that there’s a line that sits over 600 millilitres in volume.”

The pair are now working on a second version, which will include an automatic shut-off, to make the idea patentable.

“Nobody could visualise what the limit for water use was in the religion,” he said. “They’ve never seen it. If you have an open tap, you can’t really tell so we gave them something from tradition and religion and put them together.”

They hoped it would be used in mosques around the world.

“We want to protect the idea because that’s important,” he said. “It’s our core work in Masdar, which is creating a knowledge-based economy. Our fathers never played with water but nowadays, people just open taps and most of the water is wasted while they only use a little bit of it.”

The vessel could be put on the market. “The whole thing including the full display costs Dh2,000 and the device alone Dh1,000,” Dr Al Jaberi said. “We’re aiming to make it as cheap as possible and mass produce it, like a new line of taps.”

Mosques in the UAE have between 20 and 30 taps with up to 400 worshippers daily. “You don’t want to go about and break things and change things,” he said. “So we thought about making a basic system, it just needs four screws and the device and you’re set.”

Mr Al Musharrekh said saving the UAE’s resources was vital. “The Abu Dhabi 2030 vision includes sustainability,” he said. “We know that water in the UAE comes from desalination and underground, but mostly from desalination, and we know that it consumes a lot of energy so we really must take action.”

cmalek@thenational.ae