IBM, KACST research solar-powered desalination

A new, energy efficient 30 000 cubic metres per day desalination plant will be built in Al Khafji and powered with ultra-high concentrator photovoltaic (UHCPV) technology that is being jointly developed by IBM and KACST.

The desalination process will use another IBM-KACST jointly developed technology, a nanomembrane that filters out salts as well as potentially harmful toxins in water. The aim of this project is to significantly reduce the cost of desalinating seawater by combining solar power with the new nanomembrane.

“Currently, Saudi Arabia is the largest producer of desalinated water in the world, and we continue to invest in new ways of making access to fresh water more affordable,” said Dr Turki Al Saud, vice president for research institutes, KACST. 

“Our collaborative research with KACST has led to innovative technologies in the areas of solar power and of water desalination,” said Sharon Nunes, vice president, IBM Big Green Innovations. “Using these new technologies, we will create energy-efficient systems we believe can be implemented across Saudi Arabia and around the world.”

IBM and KACST signed a multi-year collaborative research agreement in 2008, under which scientists from IBM and KACST work at IBM Research laboratories in New York and California as well as at the KACST/IBM Nanotechnology Centre of Excellence in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.