Squaring the circle in Masdar

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The underlying aquifer provides the key to water cycle management in the Masdar City development. Desal and MBR elements are on offer.

CH2M Hill’s water reuse experience in Singapore and Australia should stand it in good stead in its role as programme manager on the zero carbon, zero waste Masdar City development in Abu Dhabi.

“Masdar is looking to cut the total energy and water consumption by 70% versus similar areas in the Middle East, and reuse is a significant part of that,” explains Bill Bellamy, senior VP and international director of technology at CH2M Hill. The preliminary idea is to source the city’s water supply from the underlying aquifer, and treat it to potable standard by way of a 10,000-12,000m3/d brackish water desalination plant, potentially powered by solar energy.

The current plan is for the city to have dual plumbing systems and reuse ‘grey’ water for flushing toilets, before pumping all the ‘black’ water to a central 7,000- 9,000m3/d MBR facility, where it can be treated before being re-injected into the underlying aquifer.

Geohydrology studies are currently underway to determine the suitability of the aquifer for recharge, while the possibility of installing a zero liquid discharge system for the brine flows from the MBR is also being investigated. The feasibility of extracting value from recovered brine salts could be a further way of ensuring the city’s sustainability, while the remaining residuals will be used to fuel a waste-to-energy system.