03 January, 2021
Last year, Dupont transferred their Center of Excellence for Desalination to WDRC. This pilot facility has been renamed Tahlia Almiah and is located on the ground floor in Building 23 (Innovation Cluster).
The plant takes in water from the Red Sea, provided by KAUST Utilities, which is unchlorinated. The first step is a self-cleaning screen of 300 microns to take out any coarse particles. Next, there are two trains of ten ultrafiltration (UF) membranes (0.03 micron) that have a flexible design to install the most currently available micro-and ultrafiltration membrane modules without severe modifications of the installation.
The UF feeds a seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) unit, consisting of two 8” pressure vessels that are operated and monitored independently to enable comparison of different types of membranes. 8” is the current industry standard, so we can test all existing and new membranes in this plant. It also has one 16” pressure vessel that can be used to assess these membranes' performance.
Finally, there is a brackish water RO (BWRO), with three pressure vessels in a 2:1 staging to study boron removal in the second pass.
The pilot is operated and monitored through a SCADA system, very similar to that of full- scale desalination plants.
Inside and outside the building, there is room to temporarily install additional pilot skids and monitoring equipment. It also has a facility to perform membrane autopsies, dye and bubble testing to determine the causes for performance decline and assess whether membrane damage has occurred.
The Tahlia Almiah facility will be primarily used for the Research Translation project that has received funding last year: Solving desalination membrane (bio)fouling problems by applying advanced monitoring and innovative membrane spacer design.
We will be organizing a few tours of the facility soon, obviously following COVID-19 restrictions.