A Saudi Arabian company has won the Guinness World Record for having the lowest energy consumption of a water desalination plant.
The Saudi Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) set the record by using reverse osmosis technology, which uses pressure to force water through a membrane, effectively filtering out the salt without having to heat up the water.
Advances in technology in the last two decades, including new membranes that require less water pressure, have led to a more widespread use of reverse osmosis in desalination.
The SWCC is a Saudi government entity that produces around 69 percent of the country’s desalinated water.
It also holds the world record for the largest desalination plant. Al Jubail on the country’s east coast emits the most brine water back into the ocean (a desalination byproduct with a high concentration of salt).
SWCC’s drive to reduce harmful emissions is in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 – a plan to diversify the economy unveiled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2016.
One of the aims of the plan is to move the country’s economy away from its hydrocarbon foundations, and achieve environmental sustainability.
Ahmed al-Amoudi, a researcher at SWCC, told Reuters in October 2020 that the company is looking at ways to find uses for brine water, and decrease the harmful environmental effects of pumping it back into the ocean.
This might include extracting industrially useful minerals such as sodium chloride salt, magnesium and calcium from the seawater, leaving no brine water behind, he said.