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New ZLD technology turns desalination brine into valuable products
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 15 - 07 - 2019

JEDDAH – Over the years, the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) has supported research and development of new desalination technologies to reduce cost and improve efficiency of its plant operations. While the traditional focus of SWCC activities has been on the development and application of technologies that enhance desalination plant operations, its new long-term strategy and recent activities have expanded into the development of new technologies and industrial facilities in Saudi Arabia for production of advanced desalination equipment and systems. This new direction of SWCC is in unison with the Kingdom's Vision 2030 to turn the country in a world leader of development and manufacturing of advanced industrial products and technologies.
In support of the new SWCC strategy, the Ministry of the Environment, Water and Agriculture has expressed encouragement for the research efforts of the Desalination Technology Research Institute (DTRI) of SWCC to create new technology that allows to make commercially valuable products from the concentrate (brine) generated by desalination plants and at the same time to achieve zero liquid discharge (ZLD) of these plants. DTRI has already registered two patents for such technology earlier this year in the USA and in a number of other countries.
The new technology developed by DTRI, named the Dual Brine Concentrator, uses commercially available membranes and equipment to generate valuable brine products for the chemical and other industries. The revenue from the sales of brine products generated by the DTRI technology is projected to offset the initial capital expenditures for the installation of the concentrator in less than 3 years and to result in the overall reduction of the cost of seawater desalination and brine management to less than a half of their present levels. Besides making commercially valuable products from the brine, the new technology allows to dramatically reduce or completely eliminate the discharge of brine to the sea, thereby yielding also significant environmental benefits that make desalination more sustainable.
Ali Al-Hazmi, governor of the SWCC, has recently stated: "We have made significant progress in increasing the local content in the desalination industry through the advancement of traditional technologies and the creation of new systems that support the development of advanced local industry in Saudi Arabia"
On the new technology, he said: "Concentration of brine from typical salinity of 70,000 mg/L to 150 to 200,000 mg/L which can be achieved at affordable price and low energy use by the Dual Brine Concentrator opens the path toward zero liquid discharge of brine from desalination plants becoming a close reality, and towards turning brine into a precious commercial asset which can yield source materials for our industry and high-value products such as lithium, strontium, and other minerals. This is an achievement that is registered in the name of the Kingdom."
The minister of environment, water and agriculture said that the focus should not be solely on the outputs of the Desalination Technology Research Institute, but that all inventors outside of the institute should be encouraged to create technologies that serve the desalination industry, and to foster international cooperation and joint efforts toward enhancing the sustainability of desalination.
In this regard, the DTRI is working side by side with the international company Hyrec to advance their technology for brine concentration.

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