Renewable energy for desalination: An interview with HE Dr Abdulrahman Al-Ibrahim


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This feature news is part of Singapore International Water Week’s (SIWW) series of one-on-one interviews with global water industry leaders, Conversations with Water Leaders. In this edition, HE Dr Abdulrahman M Al-Ibrahim, Governor of Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, shares with OOSKAnews correspondent, Renee Martin-Nagle, his thoughts on renewable energy for desalination and the provision of water for all.

HE Dr Abdulrahman M Al-Ibrahim elaborates on how he combined desalination with renewable energy, SWCC’s strive towards operational excellence, environmental responsibility and more.

To start, would you mind speaking about the focus that is being placed by Saudi Arabia on solar energy for desalination?

Certainly. Recently the SWCC board of directors adopted a series of strategic goals, one of which is operational excellence. Part of that operational excellence is to enrich our portfolio of energies, including renewable energies like solar, photovoltaic, thermal, wind, geothermal, and other renewable energies. In the recent past we initiated construction of the first solar desalination plant in Al-Khafji that will produce 30,000 cubic meters per day of desalinated water and is operated by photovoltaic cells with an RO [reverse osmosis] desalination system. The King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) was the leader of this program, and we partnered with KACST to build, manage and maintain the plant throughout its life. We are investigating a more rigorous program to produce around 300,000 cubic metres per day with renewable energies. So, to summarize, renewable energy is not a luxury for us.  It is part of our strategy, and it is a means to enrich our portfolio of energy so that we will have the right mix for our operation.

SA Desal Plant

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has the most installed capacity for desalination in the world and currently it is planning to export its technical know-how regionally and internationally. Image: Power Insider Asia

My understanding is that the energy output of solar may not be adequate for some of the older desal technologies such as multi-stage flash.  Is that why you are using it for reverse osmosis?

I’m sure if we want to couple renewable energy with desalination, we will have to look at different technologies and pick the ones that are the best match, which could be Multi-Effect Distillation (MED), RO hybrid or Tri-hybrid. To start with, we selected RO for the Al-Khafji plant because as a rule of thumb, RO requires the least energy, but on the west coast we are investigating other technologies, such as Tri-hybrid. It’s partially an MED as well as an RO plant with Nano-Filtration (NF) and other means. We are devoting R&D to finding the right technologies to adapt to the renewable energies available locally.

All the projects I am currently overseeing are my favorite, but I’ll tell you about my dream. My dream is to have a highly reliable and very efficient desalination plant that becomes a model not just for our kingdom, Saudi Arabia, but a model worldwide.

Saudi Arabia has the most installed capacity for desalination in the world.  As you do research and gather technologies, does the Kingdom intend to become an exporter of technology as well as an importer?

Yes, we do. For the past 30 or 40 years, the ultimate goal of SWCC was to produce desalinated water to meet the needs of the Kingdom. Now we want to go beyond that goal and export know-how regionally as well as internationally. Our roadmap is to be able to develop know-how, intellectual property, prototypes and patents locally. In the past three or four years, we have come to own some patents, and we want to double that number in the next couple of years.

Would you give me an example of the latest technologies that you are exploring?

Sure. SWCC, together with the Water Re-use Promotion Center of Japan and Sasakura Company, conducted a joint research study to develop a fully integrated NF/SWRO/MED tri-hybrid system. This desalination system enabled us to reduce significantly the water production cost per unit, which we see as a break-through. Subsequently, a number of patents have been registered in Saudi Arabia, Japan and China.

How did you personally get involved in desalination?

I’m a graduate of the mechanical engineering program in Jeddah, in the area of thermal science, and at that time, we were required to study two courses in desalination and do two internships in industrial facilities. My second internship was in a small Multi-Stage Flash (MSF) plant in Jeddah, and, after doing a research project, it became my dream to combine desal with renewable energy. Luckily, in around 1986, I also worked with a very small solar desalination plant in Yanbu that used a technology called thermal freezing, where you freeze the seawater using an absorption system to reach almost zero degrees and then recover fresh water from the system. I went on to get a Master’s degree and a PhD in thermal engineering and renewable energies, and moved my expertise to energy efficiency. After 20 or 30 years, combining desal and renewable energy is becoming a reality instead of a pilot.

What changes have you seen in the past 20-25 years since you first got involved with desal? 

Almost two months ago we launched a new plant in Jeddah called Jeddah RO-3 that operates on reverse osmosis. This plant was built on a site where a thermal plant was in operation since the late 70s and produced 40,000 cubic metres. We demolished the old plant and built a new one on the same footprint that now produces 240,000 cubic metres. So in a 25- or 30-year span we were able to increase production by six times over.

The second thing is our local expertise here in Saudi Arabia. In the past, we had to hire multiple international companies to be able to operate our plants and produce the water. In those days, you would seldom find a Saudi person operating or maintaining the plant.  Now, Saudi locals perform 91 per cent of all our operations as engineers, technicians and managers who understand the technologies and who are able to diagnose and fix problems. We admire and respect all international expertise and we utilize it to the best that we can. At the same time, we feel that we are ready now to stretch our arms to regional and international markets and spread our expertise in terms of technologies, IP and manufacturing facilities. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has invested in desal, and we hope that it will add value to our GDP.

What will be the criteria for choosing desal technologies in the future?

Two factors will be the criteria for selecting technology — energy consumption and reliability. Membrane technology will be able to attain energy efficiency very well. However, we need to be able to assist it with more devices to make it more reliable. If the price of energy is important in your area, then you need to give it more weight. If reliability is more of an issue, then you give it more weight.

As much as we care about producing water, we also care about the environment, for multiple reasons. The primary factor is that we live in and share the same area, so we need to protect the environment next to us.  Secondly, our intake is affected by its surrounding area, and therefore we should not spoil the water next to the plant itself.

What is the problem with membrane reliability?

Membrane technology is very sensitive to the quality of water it receives. For example, if there is red tide, or an algae bloom, or any other material in the seawater, such as a high Silt Density Index (SDI), you would need to shut down the plant to preserve your membrane, or augment your plant with pre-treatment facilities to clean the water before you introduce it to the membrane. On the other hand, although thermal is very expensive and utilizes maybe two or three times as much energy as membrane technology, it may tolerate any water. Also, to be able to build membrane technology, you need to have a pilot plant for a year or two at the same location and study the water carefully to select the most appropriate pre-treatment process.

SWCC uses seawater for its operations.  What you do with the brine that is left over?

As much as we care about producing water, we also care about the environment, for multiple reasons. The primary factor is that we live in and share the same area, so we need to protect the environment next to us.  Secondly, our intake is affected by its surrounding area, and therefore we should not spoil the water next to the plant itself. We perform multiple procedures so as not to intervene with the eco-system next to the plant. We do this at SWCC and in any saline water industrial facility. For example, one standard procedure is to withdraw up to ten times the amount of water that you intend to desalinate, and discharge the extra with the brine to reduce the effect of high temperature or high salinity. We also measure the temperature of the intake and the discharged brine to make sure we protect the ecosystem next to the plant.

The newly commissioned plant in Jeddah – the Jeddah RO-3 – was built with multiple advanced measures to protect the environment –not only water intake and the brine but also energy efficiency within the building. We reduced the energy consumption through the cooling grade and the lighting system, and we are applying to multiple professional organizations to receive certificates of energy efficiency in the new building as well as in the plant.

There is a desalination plant that is constructed on a floating platform in Yanbu.  Would you describe it?

It’s one of the unique features that we have in Saudi Arabia. We have two barges, each one able to produce 25,000 cubic metres per day, that move on the west coast from Yanbu to Shuaibah to Shuqaiq or anywhere else to augment the production of a desal plant. So we move the barge from one location to the other according to the needs that may occur. The barges are stand-alone, with their own power supplied by liquid fuel.

I always hesitate to ask a parent which of his children is the favorite, but would you tell me if there are any projects that are your favorite?

All the projects I am currently overseeing are my favorite, but I’ll tell you about my dream. My dream is to have a highly reliable and very efficient desalination plant that becomes a model not just for our kingdom, Saudi Arabia, but a model worldwide. I want it to become a benchmark.

What final message would you like to leave with our readers?

The people of Saudi Arabia and the employees of the Saline Water Conversion Corporation are eager to produce water to serve the needs of anyone who lives on the planet earth. And we’re extremely happy to share our technologies and information with anyone who shares the same interest values. We believe, as the people of Saudi Arabia, that water is a commodity that should be made available to anyone who lives on the planet, regardless of his faith, regardless of his type, whether he’s human or animal or anyone else. The commercial aspect is an instrument to enable us to provide water that is necessary for life on earth. I totally believe that water is a value-related issue. It’s not a luxury item that needs to be looked at from a commercial business point of view. It’s something that has to be made available for everyone, so that anyone who lives on earth will have adequate quantity and quality of water.

Renewable Energy Closing In On Natural Gas As Second-Largest Source Of Electricity Worldwide


Renewable energy will soon beat out natural gas as the second-largest source of electricity worldwide, according to projections from the International Energy Agency.

Electricity from solar, wind, hydropower and other renewable sources will increase by 40 percent in the next five years, making up about 25 percent of the world’s energy sources by 2018. Renewables will provide the second-largest amount of global electricity by 2016, topped only by coal, the number one supplier of electricity around the world. Today, hydropower dominates the renewable energy mix, supplying 80 percent of the world’s renewable electricity, but IEA projects non-hydro sources of renewable energy will double over the next five years, comprising about 8 percent of the world’s energy sources by 2018.

Lower costs are a major contributor to the spike in renewable energy — in many developing countries in Africa and Asia (and some developed ones, like Australia) renewables like wind are actually cheaper than coal. These costs are helping drive higher levels of investment in renewable energy from developing countries looking to meet rising energy demands. Reports published earlier this month found developing countries invested a total of $112 billion in renewable energy in 2012, an increase of 19 percent from the year before. China led the way in this area, upping its investment to $67 billion — an increase of nearly a quarter compared to 2011. The total invested by countries in the Middle East and Africa was much smaller — about $12 billion — but compared to 2011, their investment surged upward by 228 percent.

But renewable energy investment isn’t growing everywhere — it’s actually dropping off in developed nations. The IEA notes that despite the renewable sector’s rapid growth, worldwide subsidies for fossil fuels are still six times higher than subsidies for renewables (the U.S.’s spending reflects the world’s average — in 2011, U.S. fossil fuel subsidies were $523 billion, about six times higher than the $88 billion spent on renewable energy). President Obama pledged in his climate speech Tuesday to double the country’s wind and solar energy and to allow enough private renewable energy development on public lands to powqer 6 million homes by 2020. But governments in Europe, meanwhile, are cutting renewable energy subsidies as austerity measures take hold

Obama also addressed coal’s role in the U.S. energy mix on Tuesday, announcing he would be imposing limits on carbon emissions from existing coal-fired power plants in the U.S., as well as stopping government financing of coal plants overseas. Despite new investments in renewables, coal still dominates the energy market in developing countries like China and India. But its hold on the market may slowly be slipping. In a draft energy strategy statement, the World Bank revealed Thursday that it would be cutting back on the number of coal plants it finances, limiting its support to “rare circumstances where there are no feasible alternatives available to meet basic energy needs and other sources of financing are absent.”

Nanotechnology in Chemical Warfare


QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8Introduction By Will Soutter

Chemical and biological warfare has been banned by the international community. The unfortunate events of September 11, 2009, however, caused a major awakening in the US military – they realized that they may have to fight an enemy that does not always play by the rules.

The USA, and many other countries around the world, have since begun funding the development of highly advanced military technologies to tackle potential chemical threats in the future.

The Defense Science Board recently compiled a study that marked nanotechnology as one among six technology areas with high potential. The Department of Defense (DoD) is one of the largest supporters of nanotechnology research – second only to the National Science Foundation. The DoD has allocated a significant budget towards funding research in magnetics, nanoelectronics, and nanomaterials for detection and protection against biological, chemical, explosive and radiological threats.

 

ImageForArticle_3205(1)

Nanotechnology could be used to create cheap, potent chemical agents which work even in very small volumes. However, nanosensors and nanocoatings could also help to defend soliders and the public from chemical and biological attacks. Image credit: Photos.com.

Nanotechnology-Based Chemical Weapons

It has been noted that many aspects of nanotechnology lend themselves to creating more powerful chemical weapons. Many of the supposed risks of nanotechnology are from far-future potential developments like “grey goo” nanobots, but there is also some risk from the technology we have access to today.

The main use of current nanotechnology in chemical weapons would be derived from the research into nano-enhanced drug delivery systems – by nanoformulating chemical agents to be absorbed by the body more readily, less potent chemicals could be used effectively. Lower volumes of toxic chemicals could also be used, removing the need for industrial-scale chemical production and opening up the possibility of attacks from parties with fewer resources, like terrorist cells.

At the current time, this sort of technology is still advanced, and largely in research or very early market stages, so free access to it is not available. Nanotechnology research and regulation should take these possiblities into account, however, to make sure that access to potentially harmful technology is safely restricted.

Using Nanotechnology to Combat Chemical Weapons

Types of chemical warfare agents include the following:

Nerve agents are especially dangerous as they attack the central nervous system; even minimal exposure will result in a quick and painful death. Present methods for detecting nerve agents are often ineffective in practice – for example, spectrophotometric techniques need non-aqueous solutions.

However, Jong Seung Kim, Jong Hwa Jung and coworkers in Korea have achieved a major breakthrough in using nanoparticles to make an effective system for the detection of nerve agents in water. A nerve agent receptor based on azo-pyridine was immobilized onto silica nanoparticles. The particles turn from yellow to red in a color change recognizable to the human eye on binding to the nerve agent mimic diethylchlorophosphate.

The nanoparticles do not just detect nerve agents but also destroy them. When they are treated with NaOH, the trapped toxins decompose to less harmful molecules and the nanoparticles are recycled and can be used again.

Nanosensors for Detection of Chemical Agents

Since the Gulf War, a trend that has become quite prevalent is to attempt to reduce the need for troop presence. To this end, tiny, lightweight, highly accurate nanosensors are being considered for deployment in combat. Small, mobile and economical sensors that can enable detection of enemy troop movements will enable commanders to have a comprehensive picture of the battlefield.

Nanosensors could detect tiny quantities of chemical agents in the environment, creating an effective early warning system. Some of these materials could even simultaneously destroy the harmful chemicals. Image credit: Stanford University News.

Nanosensors have the ability to sense the presence of single molecules of specific substances. Companies like Ibis Therapeutics and Cepheid are conducting research at the nano-scale to detect biological and chemical threats. Cepheid received a major grant from the army in 2003 to detect biothreats and other pathogens.

Chad Mirkin‘s Northwestern spinoff Nanosphere contracted with the U.S. Government Technical Support Working Group to use the proprietary biomolecular detection system of Nanosphere to detect biological warfare agents such as anthrax.

Charles Lieber‘s Harvard spinout Nanosys is looking to develop a nano-enabled sensor product within the next three years.

Researchers are also working on integrating nanosensors into lightweight and ultra-strong nanomaterials for future military uniforms at MIT’s Institute of Solider Nanotechnologies.

The ISN received funding to develop a lethal, lightweight, completely integrated individual combat system. MIT is aiming at developing bullet-proof battle armor that cannot just filter out or reject toxins or chemical agents, it also weighs less than the usual 120 lbs of equipment.

Conclusion

Nanotechnology has a lot of advantages in terms of preventing biological and chemical attacks with effective sensors, and could give us the ability to effectively contain biological or chemical releases.

However, knowledge of nanotechnology developed by the chemical pharmaceutical industry to make more effective products could be used to make nanotechnology-based weapons which are easier to create, more deadly, and more insidious than conventional chemicla agents.

In the future, industry and political groups must consider initiating special training programs that are directed at helping future weapon inspectors becoming capable of identifying evolving and existing nanotechnologies that may be dangerous.

Sources

Saudi Arabia launches massive solar power procurement program


QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8Saudi Arabia launches massive solar power procurement program

 

 

(Nanowerk News) Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah City for  Atomic and Renewable Energy (K.A.CARE) has issued its long-awaited White Paper  paving the way towards the deployment of 54 gigawatts of solar power projects by  2032 worth over $60 billion. K.A.CARE has announced the launch of its Renewable Energy  Competitive Procurement Portal and released a White Paper outlining how this vast procurement  process will unfold.

KSA RE Graph
Long-term renewable energy targets for Saudi Arabia. (Source: K.A.CARE)

This announcement marks the launch of a registration process for  interested companies to submit feedback and obtain important information in  connection with the Renewable Energy Program. Crucially, it paves the way  towards the launch of the introductory procurement round.
The introductory procurement round will consist of five to seven  projects with a combined capacity of up to 800 megawatts. The introductory round  is part of Saudi Arabia’s a colossal program to procure 41,000 gigawatts of  solar power facilities by 2032.
“This is a very important milestone, both for Saudi Arabia and  the Middle East solar market as a whole. ESIA will continue to work closely with  KA-CARE to make sure this program becomes a resounding success and a benchmark  for excellence.” said Vahid Fotuhi, President of ESIA.
Source: Emirates Solar Industry Association  (ESIA)

Read more: http://www.nanowerk.com/news2/green/newsid=29203.php#ixzz2Le0Bb55x

China, India Emerge as Most Promising High-Growth Markets for Solar


QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8Japan, U.K., France, and South Korea also offer attractive landscape and large addressable markets, according to Lux Research‘s analysis of policy and market drivers

 

BOSTON, Feb 12, 2013 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Global policy changes and the crystalline silicon module price crash have brought the solar industry to a pivotal point from which it must transform and thrive in a cost-conscious environment, targeting high-growth markets such as China and India, says Lux Research.

“While some historically strong demand markets will continue to pay dividends, the real winners going forward will need to make a few well-informed bets,” said Matt Feinstein, Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the report titled, “Past is Prologue: Market Selection Strategy in a New Solar Policy Environment.”

“Successful players will anchor business in key developed regions like the U.S., Europe, Japan, and China, and place informed bets in markets like South/Central America, the Middle East, and Africa, through new offices or partnerships,” he added.

Lux Research analyzed the risk vs. reward, based on policy and market factors, for both distributed and utility-scale solar in countries around the world. Among their findings:

— Europe shines for distributed generation. Established markets remain fruitful for distributed generation despite downturns in demand and reduced feed-in tariffs. Markets such as Germany and Italy have demonstrated a strong preference for rooftop systems and have strong existing channels to market.

— Utility-scale generation soars in emerging markets. High-growth markets come with high risks as well, but emerging economies of India, China, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia are set to become solar powers. Competition is booming in the last three in particular, and each will exceed installation targets.

— Fortune favors the bold. In solar, firms that take calculated risks and expand quickly into foreign markets will boost success, as First Solar and many Chinese module manufacturers have shown. As the Chinese industry consolidates, opportunities exist for other global players.

The report, titled “Past is Prologue: Market Selection Strategy in a New Solar Policy Environment,” is part of the Lux Research Solar Systems Intelligence service.

About Lux Research

Lux Research provides strategic advice and ongoing intelligence for emerging technologies. Leaders in business, finance and government rely on us to help them make informed strategic decisions. Through our unique research approach focused on primary research and our extensive global network, we deliver insight, connections and competitive advantage to our clients. Visit http://www.luxresearchinc.com for more information.

http://cts.businesswire.com/ct/CT?id=bwnews&sty=20130212005101r1&sid=cmtx4&distro=nx

SOURCE: Lux Research

New advance could help soldiers, athletes, others rebound from traumatic brain injuries


October 17, 2012

New advance could help soldiers, athletes, others rebound from traumatic brain injuries

 

 

 

 

 

 

A potential new treatment for traumatic brain injury (TBI), which affects thousands of soldiers, auto accident victims, athletes and others each year, has shown promise in laboratory research, scientists are reporting. TBI can occur in individuals who experience a violent blow to the head that makes the brain collide with the inside of the skull, a gunshot injury or exposure to a nearby explosion. The report on TBI, which currently cannot be treated and may result in permanent brain damage or death, appears in the journal ACS Nano.

Thomas Kent, James Tour and colleagues explain that TBI disrupts the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the brain. With the brain so oxygen-needy—accounting for only 2 percent of a person’s weight, but claiming 20 percent of the body’s oxygen supply—even a mild injury, such as a concussion, can have serious consequences. Reduced blood flow and resuscitation result in a build-up of free-radicals, which can kill brain cells. Despite years of far-ranging efforts, no effective treatment has emerged for TBI. That’s why the scientists tried a new approach, based on nanoparticles so small that 1000 would fit across the width of a human hair. They describe development and successful laboratory tests of nanoparticles, called PEG-HCCs.

In laboratory rats, the nanoparticles acted like antioxidants, rapidly restoring blood flow to the brain following resuscitation after TBI. “This finding is of major importance for improving patient health under clinically relevant conditions during resuscitative care, and it has direct implications for the current [TBI] war-fighter victims in the Afghanistan and Middle East theaters,” they say. More information: “Antioxidant Carbon Particles Improve Cerebrovascular Dysfunction Following Traumatic Brain Injury”, ACS Nano, 2012, 6 (9), pp 8007–8014. DOI: 10.1021/nn302615f Abstract Injury to the neurovasculature is a feature of brain injury and must be addressed to maximize opportunity for improvement. Cerebrovascular dysfunction, manifested by reduction in cerebral blood flow (CBF), is a key factor that worsens outcome after traumatic brain injury (TBI), most notably under conditions of hypotension.

We report here that a new class of antioxidants, poly(ethylene glycol)-functionalized hydrophilic carbon clusters (PEG-HCCs), which are nontoxic carbon particles, rapidly restore CBF in a mild TBI/hypotension/resuscitation rat model when administered during resuscitation—a clinically relevant time point. Along with restoration of CBF, there is a concomitant normalization of superoxide and nitric oxide levels. Given the role of poor CBF in determining outcome, this finding is of major importance for improving patient health under clinically relevant conditions during resuscitative care, and it has direct implications for the current TBI/hypotension war-fighter victims in the Afghanistan and Middle East theaters. The results also have relevancy in other related acute circumstances such as stroke and organ transplantation. Journal reference: ACS Nano

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-10-advance-soldiers-athletes-rebound-traumatic.html#jCp