Launched in April 2019, the competition challenged academics, scientists, engineers, and the water industry to propose new solutions to manage the sustainable disposal of brine, a waste product of water desalination.
The first-place winning entry was ‘Molding the Future with Salt’ by Sebastian Castano (Colombia), Shihan Lou (China), Indah Puspita (Indonesia), and Nouran Bahgat (Egypt) from the Wetsus Academy in the Netherlands, who proposed a circular solution for brine, using technology to create a new, eco-friendly building material.
Second place winners included ‘Red to Dead - Brine saves the Dead Sea’ by Sarah Almahfoodh (Saudi Arabia) and Professor Noreddine Ghaffour from KAUST, who proposed transporting brine from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea and ‘Valorisation of brine using pellet-softening as pre-treatment’ by Maria Nava Ocampo (Mexico) from KAUST, who advocated breaking down brine into its constituent components for reuse in other industries.
“Identifying a commercially viable method to manage brine from water desalination in a more sustainable manner will have enormous implications for Saudi Arabia and for the broader Gulf region,” said John Pagano, CEO of TRSDC. “The Red Sea Development Company is proud to be working with visionary thinkers who share our commitment to environmental sustainability and to creating new solutions for long-standing challenges.”
“Solving the issues associated with brine disposal is a significant challenge”, said Prof. Hans Vrouwenvelder, Director of the KAUST Water Desalination and Reuse Center. “The jury was impressed with the high standard of entries we received. All of the winners have demonstrated truly innovative ideas that have the potential to make a meaningful difference.”
Over 125 ideas were submitted from across the globe as part of the challenge. After a comprehensive selection process, five nominees were selected to present their ideas at the Aquatech 2019 event. A panel of industry and subject specialists then announced the three winning submissions, each receiving a $10,000 prize. In addition, the three front-runners are now eligible for additional support through potential piloting of their ideas in partnership with The Red Sea Development Company and other mentoring opportunities.
“The global response to the Brains for Brine Challenge has been overwhelming, but the work is just beginning,” said John Pagano. “We look forward to collaborating with the winners to identify potential ways in which they might bring their ideas to reality.”
TRSDC is developing Saudi Arabia’s flagship international tourism destination and is setting new standards in sustainable development. Its sustainability targets include a 100 percent reliance on renewable energy, a total ban on single-use plastics, and complete carbon neutrality in the destination’s operations.