The waters of the UAE are a potential source of clean energy which can enable it to form a salt-exporting industry, according to researchers at United Arab Emirates University (UAEU).
The study – conducted by chemical engineering professor Dr Samir Abu-Eishah – analysed the capacity of the UAE’s coastal lagoons to produce energy that can be stored in salinity-gradient solar ponds (SGSPs) and used for a variety of purposes, such as water distillation and the production of ‘solar salt’.
The report found that the climate of the Gulf has created “favourable conditions” for the UAE to become “self-sustainable in salt and visible on the global salt-exporting map”.
According to Dr Abu Eishah, cold water from an SGSP can be fed into a water distillation unit, while the hot water can result in the production of “high-quality drinking water”. The hot water can also be used to drive low-temperature energy-generating turbines and in sectors including salt production, aquaculture, water supply, dairy, grain, fruit and vegetables.
“In salt-affected rural areas such as the UAE, solar pond technology could be a competitive source of heat for local industries, since saline water and salt is locally available,” he said.
“Heat from solar ponds is expected to be competitive with the use of liquefied petroleum gas and electricity in rural areas. There are no major issues with the development of SGSPs, as their prospects have been well-studied and documented,” he added. “If the need for freshwater becomes substantial, they could prove to be a beneficial energy resource for adding energy as well as heat to the water desalination process.”
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