Making water safe to drink in Egypt’s rural communities

Person washing hands

Several rural communities in Egypt lack access to drinking water. Many also have inadequate waste treatment and energy provision. These communities are mainly located in the western desert, Sinai, Nile Delta, and Mediterranean coastal areas. It is the people who live in these areas that stand to benefit most from this new initiative.

The researchers have developed a way to transform seawater or standing brackish water into drinking water using heat from solar energy and biogas from processing of biowastes. Excess biogas can then be used locally for producing electricity or for cooking in households replacing the use of bottled fossil gas.

The team has also developed a mathematical model to simulate the operation of the system in different environmental conditions and local resources. They can now estimate the cost of producing drinking water and renewable energy and compare it to alternative approaches, which in turn can be used to design appropriate systems for different communities in Egypt and worldwide.

A pilot plant has been set up at Port Said University and is able to make 2000 litres of drinking water every day. It will be used to train a new generation of engineers and academics.

In the future the team is hoping to upgrade the plant, develop new and sustainable business models for the innovation and raise awareness about sustainable solutions to water, waste and energy challenges.

The project will be so essential to these vast places that suffer from the problem of lack of drinking water and treatment of wastewater and sewage sludge.

Dr Ibrahim Abd Elrahman, Port Said University

This project was shortlisted for the Newton Prize 2020.

Watch a short film about the project on YouTube.

A novel membrane water desalination pilot plant driven by a hybrid solar-biogas energy source

Project leads: Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, University of Sheffield, UK and Professor Ayman Ibrahim Mohamed, Port Said University, Egypt

Delivery partners: British Council, UK and the Science, Technology and Innovation Funding
Authority, Egypt

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