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New solar technology for Saudi desalination plant

IBM and KACST team up to deliver new generation solar technology

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Breakthrough solar technology will soon become operational in Saudi Arabia.
Breakthrough solar technology will soon become operational in Saudi Arabia.

An energy efficient desalination plant to be built in Al Khafji City in Saudi Arabia will use new solar technology to produce a greater amount of cheaper and cleaner water, Gulf News reported on Saturday.

A research collaboration between the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), Saudi Arabia's national research and development organisation, and IBM has produced a solar powered water desalination plant that could significantly reduce water and energy costs.

Newly developed membrane technology will be used for the first time in this plant, which will be powered by ultra-high concentrator photovoltaic (UHCPV) technology.

This technology is capable of operating a CPV system at a concentration greater than 1,500 suns which is about three times the solar concentration of most concentrating photovoltaic panels currently in operation.

The new technology will require up 50 per cent less energy than conventional reverse osmosis techniques so as a result of the efficiency, the cost of desalinating seawater is also expected to be significantly reduced.

"The culmination of our joint research initiatives has enabled us to radically reduce the cost of water through the development of nano-technologies that revolutionise traditional desalination methods and renewable energy sources," said Takreem Al Tohamy, IBM general manager for the Middle East.

The new plant, which is due to be running by the end of 2012, will be able to produce 7.9 million gallons of water a day, serving 100,000 people.

Rich Lechner, vice president of Energy and Environment at IBM told Gulf News that the reverse osmosis technology behind this desalination project is more efficient and cost effective, so opening it up to wider commercialization.

"There's also a great deal of focus on addressing the challenges of greenhouse gases and climate change so the application of forward technology to this process in making solar more commercially viable by improving its efficiency is the second major object," he said.
"A secondary benefit is that these new membranes are far more durable and improve the cost effective and commercialisation capability of this technology."

 

 

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