In the KAUST Water Desalination and Reuse Center (WDRC), we develop and optimize methods to improve water desalination processes to provide potable water in drought-stricken areas. This is especially important in desert regions where seawater can be a drought-proof water resource. We also develop water reclamation and reuse strategies and processes to sustain scarce water resources.
To improve desalination processes, our scientists work on major technological breakthroughs in membrane technologies including fouling assessment and control; pre- and post-treatment; cleaning; concentrate/brine treatment; and disposal. We also develop new membranes to be used in membrane distillation and forward osmosis, two processes that are expected to play important roles in addressing water desalination and reuse needs in the future. In meeting some of the key challenges in the water-energy nexus, desalination based on renewable energy is being investigated.
Although our researchers mainly focus on low-energy, membrane-based desalination processes, we are also looking at integrating innovative technologies in thermal-based desalination, which remain the processes of choice throughout the Middle East. Collaborations with industrial and academic partners to improve and develop new thermal-based desalination processes have been initiated.
In the area of wastewater reclamation and reuse we focus on technology development to promote both direct (pipe-to-pipe) and indirect (through the use of natural buffers) water reuse. Resource recovery, in terms of energy, nutrients and other valuable products besides the water itself, is a key focus area for the center, aligned with newly emerging and globally relevant paradigms for wastewater treatment and management. Water reclamation and reuse for industry is also a topic of interest to the Center.
In all WDRC research projects, our scientists focus on both large-scale and small-scale (decentralized) applications, seeking to reduce the unit cost of water through the use of optimized and new technologies as well as through energy hybrids that integrate renewable energy, including solar, geothermal, biogas and wind.
The mission of the University’s KAUST’s Water Desalination and Reuse Center is to conduct research on the integrated and sustainable use of impaired-quality water resources, thereby contributing to the economic development of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
With the goal of improving water separation and transformation processes, WDRC researchers focus on a range of projects, including:
Optimization of existing technologies (performance, energy, chemicals, environment and costs)
Hybridization of existing technologies (synergistic coupling of treatment processes with energy considerations)
Development of novel selective technologies (including nanotechnologies)
Adaptation of technologies to local and changing (e.g., climate change) conditions
Dissemination of knowledge including technology transfer
Economic development through the development of sustainable and cost-effective water and sanitation technologies
This wide range of projects requires that the Center take a multi-disciplinary approach by drawing expertise and knowledge from various engineering and scientific disciplines.