Qatar: University pioneers desalination technology

A research project conducted by students at Qatar University College of Engineering, in collaboration with a team from ConocoPhillips Global Water Sustainability Center, has pioneered desalination technology with a lower carbon footprint to produce fresh water in Qatar. Using a process called membrane distillation desalination, the team, in partnership with Qatar Water and Electricity Company, found that a hydrophobic membrane prevents salty water from passing through and allows fresh water vapour to permeate and condense. The process required only a low temperature feed of salty water, often not exceeding 80°C, and low usage of atmospheric pressure. To test the new technology, two pilot plants exploiting membrane distillation were commissioned and deployed at the Ras Bou Fantas power and desalination plant.