Futuristic desert city to get water using solar technology developed at Cranfield


Technology researched at Cranfield University that harnesses concentrated solar power to desalinate sea water is being adopted by a new smart city under construction in Saudi Arabia.

NEOM – a region in northwest Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea being built from the ground up as a living laboratory – has signed an agreement with Solar Water Plc to build the first ever ‘solar dome’ desalination plant.

Solar Water's groundbreaking carbon neutral approach was developed through a Cranfield master’s group project and represents the first large-scale use of Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technology in seawater desalination.

Professor Chris Sansom, Head of the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems at Cranfield, and currently a consultant to Solar Water, said:
“The adoption of solar dome desalination in NEOM will be a trailblazer for other countries struggling to generate environmentally-safe and sustainable sources of fresh water. The process could be used to produce clean water for a range of uses including farming, reforestation, biotech consumption, or use by high-tech industries that rely on pure clean water for their manufacturing.”

David Reavley, CEO of Solar Water Plc, said: “Currently, thousands of desalination plants around the world are heavily reliant on burning fossil fuels to extract water, poisoning our oceans in the process with excess brine. Our game-changing desalination technology is 100% carbon neutral and entirely sustainable. In NEOM we have found a partner who has a strong vision of what a New Future looks like in harmony with nature.”

Work on the first dome will begin in February and is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

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