Saudi Arabia announced the construction of the first “solar dome” installation that can desalinate water. The initiative is a collaboration between the country’s government and private company Solar Water – headquartered in London – and aims to develop a new carbon neutral technique, free from polluting chemicals and without large amounts of electricity to convert seawater into freshwater. drinking water, on a massive and commercial scale.
The proposal is part of the “NEOM” project, which foresees a cost of US$500 billion to encourage solutions looking for a clean future. The agreement was signed at the end of January 2020 and the establishment of the plant – located in the northwest of the country – is already in its final phase, which is expected to be completed this year.
“The plant is essentially a steel pot buried underground, covered with a… [glass] dome, making it look like a ball,” said David Reavley, president of Solar Water in an interview with CNN Arabia. This installation is based on an experimental technology of concentrated solar energy, composed of heliostatic reflectors (with an appearance similar to that of panels), which direct the radiation towards the inside of the base.
The stored heat is then conducted to the seawater in the dome, causing the liquid to evaporate and then condense into drinking water. The management states that eco-building also has the advantage of relatively low value and easy application, which can promote its economic use in various parts of the world where there is a shortage of drinking water, especially in the Middle East.
It is worth remembering that water covers 71% of the earth, but only 3% of this index is fresh water. Given the lack of this resource in much of the planet that also receives little rainfall, finding alternatives is motivating efforts to develop new desalination technologies.
In addition to Solar Water, other companies are also pursuing this goal, such as Solar Water Solutions and the Climate Fund Manager. Together, their work has already installed about 200 carbon neutral desalination plants in Kitui County, Kenya, with the promise of providing clean water to 400,000 people by 2023. Other innovative experiences, such as in the UAE, used “rain drones” to discharge electricity into clouds and encourage precipitation.