Oxford and Bahrain partner on desal research

Professor Nick Hankins begins a long-term research partnership with the University of Bahrain on low-energy water desalination.

Oxford University recently formalised a research partnership agreement with the University of Bahrain at a signing ceremony in the Kingdom.

The agreement, inked by Professor Nick Hankins of the University’s Department of Engineering Science, and Research Director of the Oxford Centre for Sustainable Water Engineering, will see the two parties pursue research in the area of low-energy osmotic technologies for seawater desalination.

It is hoped that the collaboration will result in high-efficiency solutions that will help reduce energy consumption for water desalination, both in the Gulf region, and the UK.

Professor Nick Hankins signs agreement with Professor Riyad Hamzah, President of the University of Bahrain.

Speaking at the ceremony, Professor Hankins  said:

“We at Oxford see this as a long term partnership that will lead to a regional centre for sustainability, with a real input from Oxford and real impact by solving critical regional and global issues”.

The partnership will begin with a £200,000, four-year project, funded by the University of Bahrain, with in-kind support from Oxford, to investigate ways to reduce the energy consumption associated with sea-water pretreatment.

“The energy consumption associated with established reverse osmosis technology is often up to four or five times the thermodynamic limit; a significant amount of this extra energy is used just to prepare seawater for the desalination process, and this represents a worthy goal for energy reduction,” said Professor Hankins.

The agreement is a result of a Science Collaboration Symposium organized last year in Bahrain by the British Council, in cooperation with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and under the Gulf Science Innovation and Knowledge Economy Programme. This programme aims to create opportunities for joint collaborations between universities and research institutions in Bahrain and the UK. The Oxford partnership is one of the fruitful collaboration is emerge from the 2016 symposium, with the University of Aston signing an agreement to explore linking renewable energy to reverse osmosis desalination plants in the Kingdom.

Commenting on the the agreements, Professor Riyad Hamzah, President of the University of Bahrain said:

“The signing of these partnerships is only the beginning of the road, and we look forward to further cooperation, coordination and exploration [of] opportunities for joint research that contribute to finding solutions to the challenges our societies face in terms of water, energy and food.”