Ghantoot desalination plants hope to improve on traditional methods
GHANTOOT // Four new desalination plants that will trial energy-effective methods of producing potable water are being built along the coast at Ghantoot.
The project is a partnership between Abu Dhabi clean energy company Masdar and four technology firms.
Earlier this year, The National reported that the plants were expected to start trial operations in the summer but, according to Alexander Ritschel, senior manager at Masdar Special Projects, it will be October before all four are fully functioning.
The first to start operation will be a facility with capacity to produce 300 cubic metres of water per day, built by French company Veolia.
The plant will look to improve traditional reverse osmosis technology, in which water is pumped through a series of membranes.
“The operational phase will start from August to operate for 18 months,” Mr Ritschel said.
Degrémont, now known as Suez Environnement, is more than halfway ready with construction on a second plant with a capacity of 100 cubic metres per day. The facility is expected to start operation in September.
Trevi Systems from the US will build a plant with a capacity of 50 cubic metres of water per day, while Spain’s Abengoa is building the largest of the four - with a daily capacity of up to 1,080 cubic metres per day.
Construction on the largest plant started this week with full operation expected to commence in October.
The trial aims to improve the efficiency of desalination processes and each of the facilities’ energy consumption will be monitored on an hourly basis throughout the 18 months of operation.
The quality of the potable water produced will also be monitored thoroughly.
The plants will produce 1,530 cubic metres of water per day. By comparison, the volume of the Dubai Fountain lake adjacent to Burj Khalifa is 166,238 cubic metres.
The small amount of potable water to be produced in the trial means there will be a small amount of hyper-saline brine, waste from the desalination process that can have a significant impact on marine ecosystems.
However, because of the small volume of water involved, the trial is expected to have basically no impact on the marine environment.
“It is very, very minor,” Mr Ritschel said.
In the last six months of operation the four partners will be allowed to further optimise their processes and the produced potable water will be discharged back into the ocean together with the brine, neutralising the impact on salinity levels of the seawater.
Updated: July 5, 2015 04:00 AM