In a few days, NAWI will host a delegation from NEOM, a historic project to develop fully renewable and sustainable communities along the barren northwestern coast of Saudi Arabia. The NEOM project arose from Saudi Vision 2030, and is an effort to diversify the country’s economy and demonstrate at full scale communities powered entirely by renewable energy.
Given its location in one of the most arid places on Earth, innovations in desalination are foundational (and critical) to the viability of the project. Not only will 100% of the water for the communities and industries of NEOM come from desalinated water from the Red Sea, but the NEOM economy will be fueled in part by an entire economy that transforms the constituents of the reverse osmosis (RO) concentrate into valuable chemicals and physical products.
Much of NAWI’s research program and vision aligns with the needs and goals of NEOM. We envision novel modular desalination systems that recover 100% of the water from a variety of non-traditional water sources — as well as brine concentration, crystallization, and valorization technologies that take dissolved constituents and transform them into high-value, carbon negative products. And, with an entire economic system powered by renewable energy, NAWI’s research into adaptive, dynamic, and resilient water treatment systems and control strategies may play a critical role in enabling renewables-dependent infrastructure to operate reliably.