Ground-breaking research on seawater biodesalination
A research team from the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) has been studying a ground-breaking treatment for the biodesalination of seawater utilising the Phormidium keutzingianum cyanobacterial strain in an attached growth-packed bed reactor, seamlessly integrated into a continuous-flow stirred tank reactor, marking a milestone in real-time seawater treatment.
This research stands on the precipice of innovation, driven by the urgency of global water scarcity, delving into the realm of green desalination techniques, with a particular focus on the pioneering field of biodesalination.
The utilisation of zeolites as support media for attached growth laid the foundation for the experimental setup, comprising two reactors in an open outdoor environment.
These reactors underwent meticulous examination, fuelled by continuous airflow and distinct hydraulic retention (HRT) times of seven and 15 days. Throughout this rigorous evaluation, the team vigilantly monitored critical parameters including pH, chloride ion concentration, total organic carbon (TOC) and optical density.
At the heart of this research lies the dual pursuit of chloride ion and TOC removal efficiency. Impressively, reactor one showcased significant chloride ion removal efficiencies, approximately 40% and 32% for HRTs of seven and 15 days, respectively.
Reactor two mirrored these outcomes, affirming the robustness of the attached growth approach for seawater biodesalination. The study’s findings were further substantiated by the consistent low optical density measurements, signifying the practical viability of this method.
Yet, the impact of this research stretches beyond the confines of the laboratory. As water scarcity reaches critical levels globally, biodesalination emerges as a beacon of sustainable hope. The research seeks to revolutionise desalination practices, offering a path to mitigate water scarcity while championing environmental preservation.
In this journey, collaboration is paramount. The team’s work has sparked keen interest from diverse stakeholders, including government organisations in the UAE and beyond. This resonance emphasises the alignment of the research with national water management strategies and wider sustainability goals.
Notably, the research’s foundation is bolstered by a filed patent, currently pending, which speaks to its pioneering nature and potential market impact.
Looking to the future, the team envisions their research blossoming into real-world solutions. As the patent’s approval materialises, they will be at the forefront of a transformative shift in desalination practices, driven by collaboration, innovation and a steadfast commitment to ensuring water security in the UAE and on a global scale.
The research is conducted by Abdul Mannan Zafar, PhD research scholar, and Dr Ashraf Aly Hassan, associate professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering at the United Arab Emirates University.
Read more about this research at this link.
This is the sixth in a series of articles promoted by the United Arab Emirates University.