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A&M Involved in Water Project

July 12, 2008

By Holli L. Estridge, The Eagle, Bryan, Texas

Jul. 12–Texas A&M University researchers are spearheading development of a water desalination process as part of a $400,000 project with Qatar Science & Technology Park.

Desalination is the removal of dissolved salt and other minerals from ocean or brackish water.

“Salty brine is the byproduct of conventional desalination processes, but the new process would use lime and aluminum to yield solid waste that could be easily disposed,” university officials said in a written statement.

Ahmed Abdel-Wahab, an assistant professor and program coordinator with Texas A&M at Qatar’s chemical engineering program, said the process had the potential to be used in municipal and industrial wastewater treatment.

“Specifically, it can be used to remove chemicals such as silica, sulfate, chloride, calcium, magnesium and other scale-forming materials from water and wastewater,” Abdel-Wahab said.

He said the process could alleviate water-supply challenges in Qatar and communities worldwide that are struggling with a saline groundwater supply.

The process Abdel-Wahab and others are developing in Qatar allows for more than 95 percent of treated water to be used. Companies using the product would be able to crystallize the remaining brine for inexpensive disposal, Abdel-Wahab said.

“This process conserves water, eliminates brine discharge and reduces energy consumption,” he said. “More importantly, it eliminates the environmental impact that results from brine discharge into water streams or on land.”

The Qatar Science & Technology Park will fund the project through an 18-month grant. Abdel-Wahab said the project qualified for the grant because of its commercial viability.

Patrick Linke, associate professor of chemical engineering at Texas A&M at Qatar, and Bill Batchelor and Mahmoud El Halwagi, professors in environmental and chemical engineering, respectively, at the College Station campus, are involved in the project.

Abdel-Wahab said that Texas A&M at Qatar would hire a research associate and that Qatar-based undergraduate students would participate.

–Holli L. Estridge’s e-mail address is holli.estridge@theeagle.com.

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