Masdar Institute Hosts Workshop in Abu Dhabi on HDH Desalination Technology

September 21, 2018

Expert from MIT Dr John H Leinhard Highlights Region’s Challenges in Accessing Water Resources

Abu Dhabi-UAE: 14 November, 2011 – Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, an independent, research-driven graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technologies, today announced it organized a lecture and discussion to highlight desalination technologies and their role in regional and global challenges in potable water production.

The event titled ‘Desalination of seawater by HDH and other technologies’ was held in Abu Dhabi as part of the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) Distinguished Lecture Series.

More than 180 students, researchers, faculty from Masdar Institute and industry professionals from across the region attended the event that was addressed by Dr John Leinhard, Deputy Director, MIT Energy Initiative, Chevron Professor of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Speaking at the event, Dr Lienhard first provided an overview of the scale and scope of the challenge society faces in providing fresh water to growing populations in water stressed regions. He then discussed the range of desalination technologies available for providing fresh water and pointed out that humidification and dehumidification (HDH) technology, which has low capital and maintenance requirements is highly appropriate for community-level water purification and can play a crucial role in solving the global water problem. Desalination of water assumes enormous significance because, while water covers most of the planet, only 3% of that is fresh water, of which less than 1% is readily accessible.

Dr Leinhard pointed out that currently, there are 13.869 desalination plants operating worldwide with a total capacity of 60 million cubic liters a day, which is equivalent to 5% of world’s domestic water consumption. These plants adopt the ‘membrane’ and ‘distillation’ techniques to obtain potable water. The Global Water Intelligence (GWI) ranks the UAE second among top 10 desalinated water producing countries with a capacity of approximately 8.4-million cubic meters a day.

Dr Leinhard said: “HDH research is ongoing and can potentially improve upon the existing technologies. Work at MIT and other institutions to make HDH a low-cost desalination option may yield easier access to potable water for communities across the world.”

HDH desalination is a distillation technology that operates using air as a carrier gas to carry water evaporated from a heated seawater feed to a chamber where the water is condensed in a clean form. The carrier gas is recycled to complete the humidification and dehumidification cycle.

The lecture covered serious issues in worldwide water supply and highlighted desalination as a solution. Currently, a variety of technologies, including HDH, are being studied and deployed. Dr Leinhard’s work has investigated the lead-edge thermodynamic performance aspects of a wide variety of HDH configurations.

With more than 23 years on the MIT faculty, Dr Lienhard’s research and educational efforts have focused on heat transfer, desalination, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and instrumentation.

Dr Lienhard serves on the editorial boards of several international journals, and is the co-author of textbooks on heat transfer and on measurement and instrumentation. His book on heat transfer has been available online since 2002 and more than 250,000 copies have been downloaded.

Dr Steven Griffiths, Executive Director of Institute Initiatives, said: “Availability of fresh water is a problem that is becoming increasing difficult to solve as population growth and economic development create increasing demand for fresh water for industrial, agricultural and personal uses. The challenge is most significant in water-stressed regions such as the Middle East. Insights from academic experts such as Dr Leinhard bring enormous value to work being done in the region to develop new inventions and innovations in the area of desalination.”

Dr Lienhard received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in thermal engineering from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) from the Chemical, Nuclear, and Thermal Engineering Department, where he worked on thermal instabilities in solar collectors and evaporating meniscus measurements for desalination systems. He joined MIT immediately after completing his PhD in the Applied Mechanics and Engineering Science Department from the University of California San Diego, where he did experimental work on thermally stratified turbulent flows.

Since joining MIT, Dr Lienhard has worked on liquid jet impingement, buoyant instabilities, high heat flux engineering, electronics thermal management, glass fiber formation, and thermally-driven desalination processes. He has been the Director of the Rohsenow Kendall Heat Transfer Laboratory since 1997, and is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. At MIT, Dr Lienhard has served as Associate Head of the Mechanical Engineering department, Undergraduate Officer, and Head of the Fluids, Energy & Transport Division of Mechanical Engineering.

The centerpiece of Masdar City, one of the carbon-neutral and sustainable cities in the world, Masdar Institute provides students an unparalleled opportunity in the entire spectrum of research, from theory to applied research to commercialization in a single location. With its best-in-class amenities for research and development in clean technologies, it aims to help drive economic diversification through human capital and technological innovation.