Water reuse, desalination technology key to solving water scarcity challenges in Middle East

Nov. 10, 2009
DUBAI, UAE, Nov. 10, 2009 -- As the Middle East grapples with growing demand for sustainable supplies of clean water, water reuse and desalination have become an increasingly critical strategy...

• Maximizing water supplies is focus of GE's presence at IDA World Congress 2009

DUBAI, UAE, Nov. 10, 2009 -- As the Middle East grapples with growing demand for sustainable supplies of clean water, water reuse and desalination have become an increasingly critical strategy. GE will showcase its advanced water reuse and desalination solutions at this week's International Desalination Association (IDA) World Congress 2009, underscoring its commitment to help address the region's water challenges.

The Middle East and North Africa region has 5 percent of the world's population and less than 1 percent of the world's available water supply.1 Water scarcity is a major threat to the region's standard of living. Water reuse technology is emerging as a vital solution to the region's and the world's water shortage challenges. With proper treatment, seawater and wastewater can be reused for beneficial purposes such as drinking water, agricultural and landscape irrigation, industrial processes and similar uses, enabling communities and countries to stretch limited freshwater supplies.

The Middle East already boasts some of the world's most innovative wastewater reuse facilities and some of the highest rates of water reuse. For example, GE with its partner Mohammed Abdul Mohsin Al Kharafi & Sons built the Sulaibiya facility in Kuwait, the world's largest membrane-based water reclamation facility. This plant treats 375,000 m³/day (99 million U.S. gallons/day) of municipal wastewater from Kuwait City and the surrounding area. The water is used for irrigation.

Meanwhile, more than 70 percent of wastewater is reused in many countries in the region, while the set goal for Abu Dhabi is 100 percent wastewater reuse by 2015.2 Other Middle Eastern countries are evaluating stringent reuse goals as well. For example, the water reuse market in Saudi Arabia is expected to be worth $3.4 billion between 2009 and 2016, making it the third largest water reuse market in the world.3

"No part of the world knows more intimately than the Middle East the importance of an adequate, sustainable water supply, both for daily living and economic development," said Steve Watzeck, president of engineered systems - water and process technologies for GE Power & Water. "GE's advanced technology solutions, strong local presence and commitment to the region can help governments and industries in the Middle East effectively address their most difficult water challenges."

At the IDA World Congress 2009, GE will highlight its industry-leading portfolio of technologies and services for water reuse and desalination. These encompass world-class filters and membranes and chemicals for seawater and brackish water; electrodialysis reversal (EDR) technology for the recovery and reuse of saline water; reverse osmosis (RO) desalination systems, ZeeWeed® ultrafiltration (UF) pretreatment systems for RO applications; and GE's build-own-operate service offerings.

In filters and membranes, GE's SWRO.Z depth cartridge filter with patented Z.Plex filter manufacturing technology will be on display. The SWRO.Z provides superior protection from fine suspended particles, silt and other microorganisms and extends life for critical seawater RO membranes, offering twice the lifespan and twice the dirt-holding capacity of conventional melt blown and string wound depth filters at less than half the pressure drop. Other advanced membranes on display will include GE's high-rejection and high surface area RO membranes, which maximize salt removal even at elevated temperatures.

GE's global leadership in EDR technology will be showcased as well. EDR is a highly effective way to recover and reuse saline water. GE's experience encompasses 900+ EDR installations globally. That track record has led to a broad and deep lineup of very robust EDR product offerings, with designs available for up to 95 percent removal of total dissolved solids, tolerance to the presence of chlorine and the ability to treat water containing high silica levels.

With regard to seawater RO technology, GE offers 50+ years of membrane and process design expertise, based on hundreds of installations globally.

Moreover, GE also offers the world's best pretreatment technology for RO systems -- GE ZeeWeed membranes. Proven in more than two decades of use, GE ZeeWeed membrane technology extends the life of RO membranes, reduces RO power consumption, easily handles variable water conditions, requires less cleaning and no pre-treatment chemicals and has one-third the physical footprint, all in comparison to existing granular media filtration systems.

GE's ZeeWeed membrane technology also has been proven for more than two decades for wastewater treatment and water reuse. GE has the world's largest installed base of membrane bioreactor (MBR) systems that use ZeeWeed UF membranes to produce the highest quality of water for reuse. More than 600 of GE's ZeeWeed 500 MBR plants are in operation, in design or under construction worldwide and are becoming widely deployed for small to very large municipal and industrial plants. GE continues to supply membranes for large capacity plants across the globe, providing an alternate source of non-potable water and reducing the impact on receiving waters.

Finally, GE will be highlighting its build-own-operate services, which offer customers GE's extensive technical and operational expertise, emergency back-up capabilities and fast design and build scheduling, all at reduced capital expense and less operating cost.

GE also is providing advanced water-management solutions to the region, which encompass desalination; municipal, utility and industrial wastewater treatment; process chemicals and separation; product water; and products for residential water applications. Key projects include:

GE and Al Tamimi "GET Water" Partnership -- GE has provided a fleet of mobile water treatment systems to Al Tamimi Group for the rapid deployment of onsite treatment systems for both sea water and brackish water treatment, water reuse and water filtration with emergency response time of as little as 72 hours. More than 60 mobile units are currently in operation, with each unit capable of treating up to 1,500 cubic meters of water per day.

GE Power & Water is a partner in ConocoPhillips Water Sustainability Center (WSC) in Qatar -- ConocoPhillips and GE will work to develop more efficient and cost-effective treatment technologies at the WSC. The WSC will research and develop water solutions primarily for the petroleum and petrochemical sectors and also will focus on municipal and agricultural solutions.

Water Reuse at International Medical Center in Jeddah -- GE supplied the 300-bed facility with an advanced membrane bioreactor wastewater treatment system to treat and recycle 250 cubic meters/day of wastewater, reducing freshwater usage. The water exceeds cleanliness standards and is used for flush water in lavatory fixtures and for landscaping.

GE is increasing its investments in facilities and technology centers to better serve its customers in the region. In addition to the Sulaibiya facility, GE inaugurated a 7,500 m² GE Saudi Water & Process Technology Center, with a nearly US$10 million investment this year to offer critical water, water reuse, waste-water and process solutions for the region's industrial customers. This follows a recently opened Center of Excellence manufacturing facility in the United Arab Emirates.

About GE
GE is a diversified global infrastructure, finance and media company that's built to meet essential world needs. From energy, water, transportation and health to access to money and information, GE serves customers in more than 100 countries and employs more than 300,000 people worldwide.

GE serves the Energy sector by developing and deploying technology that helps make efficient use of natural resources. With 60,000 global employees and 2008 revenues of $38.6 billion, GE Energy www.ge.com/energy is one of the world's leading suppliers of power generation and energy delivery technologies. The businesses that comprise GE Energy - GE Power & Water, GE Energy Services and GE Oil & Gas - work together to provide integrated product and service solutions in all areas of the energy industry including coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy; renewable resources such as water, wind, solar and biogas; and other alternative fuels. For more information, visit the company's Web site at www.ge.com. GE is imagination at work.

1 "Towards Sustainable Wastewater Reuse in the Middle East and North Africa," Institute of Environmental and Water Studies, Birzeit University, Palestine
2 AME Info.com
3 Middle East North Africa Financial Network