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Oman Business News

Pact inked to reduce environmental impact of desalination

Under the Strategic Water Research Programme funded by the Sultan Qaboos Higher Centre for Culture and Science, The Research Council (TRC) and The Middle East Desalination Research Centre (MEDRC) have signed a research contract during a ceremony held at TRC offices. The agreement was signed by Dr Hilal al Hinai, Secretary General of The Research Council and MEDRC Centre Director, Ciarán Ó Cuinn.

Under the agreement MEDRC will lead a 2-year water research project to investigate the potential of reusing discarded reverse osmosis desalination membranes for treating wastewater for industrial or agricultural use.

During the process of Reverse Osmosis (RO) desalination, salt water is forced through a membrane that allows water molecules to pass, but blocks salt and other minerals. However, these membranes are costly, prone to fouling, have a limited life cycle and usually end up in landfill when they no longer meet performance requirements. With the surge in demand for desalination expected to continue, a sustainable waste management framework for discarded membranes is required to help improve the industry’s environmental impact.

The research project will deliver an in-depth analysis of membrane use in Oman, including an assessment of the life cycle of RO membranes and the annual mass being consigned to landfill. The project will examine the technical feasibility of removing the outer layer of the membrane and modifying the unit to effectively treat wastewater for agricultural and industrial use.

Located in Muscat, MEDRC conduct, facilitate and promote scientific research that focuses on applying the latest technological advances to cut operational costs, energy requirements and the environmental impact of desalination.

MEDRC Centre Director, Ciarán Ó Cuinn said, ‘‘As we move towards sustainable desalination, technological innovations need to be green and cost effective. Recovering discarded membranes and applying novel chemical and mechanical approaches to enable them to be reused would create considerable financial and environmental benefits. Initiatives such as these underpin MEDRC’s mandate to provide solutions to fresh water scarcity. We are proud to be working with The Research Council and our partners to lead a project that will have a real and practical impact in Oman and beyond.” As part of the project, a testing unit will be built to perform trials on the recovered membranes at MEDRC’s water research and training facility in Al Hail. The organisation’s on-site water testing laboratory will be used to conduct all water analysis.

MEDRC will leverage its extensive research network to bring in international expertise from renowned water research entities IMDEA Agua (Spain) and Valoriza Aqua (Spain) and link them with national experts from the Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), Majis Industrial Services (Majis) and Haya Water.
  • Oman
  • TRC
  • Water Research Contract
  • Desalination
  • Environmental Impact
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