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Dr. Ilham Kadri, commercial director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Dow Water & Process Solutions discusses the future of desalination technology
What key issues are facing the desalination industry?
Regional water scarcity is certainly a growing challenge. One way to address this challenge is to recycle waste water.
Our company is continually exploring new technologies and looking to utilise the existing technologies we have in a more innovative way. Dow technology is already making water recycling a reality in the region, and a top five-star hotel in Dubai has installed a system with DOW™ Ultrafiltration technology to safely and effectively recycle water from Dubai Municipality to use as irrigation for its gardens and landscaping.
This proved to be a very cost effective investment for the hotel, and they were able to save on their energy consumption as well. Treated water helps conserve scarce water resources efficiently, responsibly and intelligently; there are benefits for businesses concerned about profit and environmental footprint.
Which desalination technology method do you see as being the most common in future projects in the Middle East?
The plants that were built in the 1970s and 1980s are still serving us today. When we build plants today, we need to consider our future environmental responsibility and how we can best provide for generations to come.
The plants we commission and build today have to be built with technology that can handle the sustainability requirements that will be in effect 30 or 40 years down the road.
Our industry should look at the best-in-class technology in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability because their lifetime will be anywhere from 25 to 40 years. When many of the region’s plants were built 30 or 40 years ago, thermal technology was the best available technology at the time.
Today, that best-in-class technology is Spiral Wound Reverse Osmosis (SWRO). Additionally, relying on the more energy-intensive thermal technology translates into lost profits by wasting oil resources, and those profits could be spent in various other ways by regional governments.
We are also promoting a combined UF and RO desalination solution that offers pretreatment for RO, thereby extending the life service of RO assets.
What new technology are we likely to see coming up in the industry?
We’re educating our customers and end-users about the advantages of large diameter elements for desalination.
As systems are getting bigger, the industry is realising that the standard eight-inch is not large enough. 16-inch is an innovation that is slowly gaining attention, and there are benefits to be realised such as a reduced plant footprint. We are confident that this segment will grow as companies look to bid with bigger systems.
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