Desal plants to use next generation technology
The Kingdom has signed an agreement to use new technology from Japan to produce clean water at its desalination plants.
The agreement to use the technology was signed by the Arabian and Japan Membrane Company (AJMC), a company set up as a joint venture with Japanese firms, in Rabigh recently.
The signing ceremony was attended by Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed Al- Ibrahim, governor of the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC); Ryuzo Sakamoto, chairman of Toyobo company; Abdullah Al-Shahree, governor of the Saudi Electricity Company; Japanese Ambassador Jiro Kodera; and Saeed Saad Al-Harthy, chief executive officer of the AJMC.
Al-Harthy said the contract would be for the final phase of the project, which would make Saudi Arabia one of the leading countries producing the latest membranes for desalination plants.
Toyobo established the AJMC in cooperation with ACWA Holdings and Itochu Corporation at the Rabigh Plus Tech Park in 2010. Toyobo offered its hollow fiber reverse osmosis membrane element and technical services for seawater desalination plants.
“To meet this technology holder’s requirements, we have been sending our youth to Japan for training, which was given mainly to Saudi engineers and technicians.
“We are now expanding to use local materials as much as we can. Localization has reached about 62 percent and we will try to increase this,” he said.
Al-Harthy said the AJMC would be in a position to manufacture the Forward Osmosis Membrane product, which is next generation technology in seawater desalination. This technology can realize substantial energy savings in production.
“I believe the AJMC will be a superior membrane supplier in next generation technology too,” he said.
He said the demand for water is increasing 7 to 10 percent annually. The decision was taken by the SWCC to rely more on advanced technology to make emissions more environmentally friendly.
At the moment, the membranes in desalination plants in the Kingdom are helping to produce a total of 1.5 million cubic meters of water a day. The company is producing 6,000 membranes a year, with each membrane having the capacity to produce 50 cubic meters of water a day.
Sakamoto said the partnership was a great achievement. “With ACWA Holdings we have established a strong partnership. I was eagerly waiting for this day. It gives me great pleasure to stand here to announce our partnership in Phases 2 and 3, and the signing of the contract for the final Phase 4,” he said.
On behalf of the minister of water and electricity, Al-Ibraham said the agreement would help expand cooperation between the two countries.
“Our goal is not to transfer the technology from Japan but to make Saudi Arabia able to build it, and supply it to other countries,” he said.
The total investment would be SR1.3 billion in the first 10 years. This would be the first plant of its kind to manufacture reverse osmosis desalination elements in the Middle East and North Africa region.