Sharing knowledge in Saudi Arabia
In the autumn of 2013, researcher Emile Cornelissen visits King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to prepare a course on membrane technology. In November he gives the course, which is entitled “Advanced membrane desalination of contaminated brackish water to improve the Jeddah urban water cycle”.
“Fresh water is scarce in Saudi Arabia,” says Cornelissen. “They currently produce it predominantly by desalinating seawater through evaporation, which the process is very energy intensive. Innovative membrane techniques can help to reduce the amount of energy used.” Desalination of brackish water is even easier. “Jeddah has brackish groundwater which is of poor quality. Collection and treatment of the wastewater is poor, and part of the untreated water goes directly into the ground. That’s why ‘contaminated brackish water’ was included in course’s title.”
Innovative membrane techniques can help save energy in fresh water production.
Reuse in the form of process water
The discussions reveal that the reuse of wastewater meets with some objection of many course participants. “Technically the production of drinking water from wastewater is no problem,” emphasises Cornelissen. “But the chance that they’ll use wastewater to directly or indirectly produce drinking water is small. The objections are based on cultural and religious ground. But they were very open to using treated wastewater for process or industrial purposes.” Cornelissen notices that there is a great deal of interest in the course content. About 50 managers, researchers and professionals from the water sector take an active part in the course and are very enthusiastic about its outcome.
© 2017 KWR Watercycle Research Institute
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Senior scientific researcher