Solar to be used in trial to find ‘desalination plant of the future’

A French engineering company will use solar panels to power an innovative desalination demonstration project in Masdar Ritschel Abu Dhabi operated by clean energy group Masdar.

Mascara is a company headed by Marc Vergnet, founder of Vergnet Hydro, and it will utilise off-grid rooftop solar to power the project in Ghantoot.

Vergnet said this week that he is expecting the project to consume 2.8 kWh per cubic metre of water.

The trial – which is expected to start in two months – will be the fifth located at Ghantoot, alongside grid-connected projects from Abengoa, Suez Environnement, Sidem/Veolia and Trevi Systems.

If the Mascara project is successful, Masdar says the technology will be ideal for use in remote locations and especially on islands.

Speaking to journalists at Ghantoot yesterday, Dr Alexander Ritschel, Masdar senior manager, said that currently desalination plants in the UAE “are mainly thermal and aged. There needs to be a transition to membrane-based desalination technology, which is more efficient than thermal processes installed sometimes up to 40 years ago.”

Ritschel said the five trial plants will run until 2017, with the aim to find out “how the desalination plant of the future will operate”.

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