Brains for Brine

Brains for Brine

Where solutions do not yet exist for sustainability challenges, we are looking to identify the innovators and experts that can help us solve them. Population growth, economic development and rapid urbanization in areas with little fresh water have led to an increase in the use of desalination technologies as a solution. However, left-over at the end of the desalination process is brine, a salty waste by-product.

The lack of natural fresh water in the Middle East means that the region has the highest concentration of desalination plants and produces over half of global brine effluent. However, managing this by-product in a manner that is both sustainable and commercially viable poses a significant challenge.

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The Red Sea Development Company and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) have launched an international competition that challenges academics, scientists, engineers and the water industry to develop new ideas for managing the disposal of brine as a waste product of water desalination. The ‘Brains for Brine’ initiative seeks to minimize brine discharge and identify opportunities for brine re-use.

Five winners of the competition will present their solutions at Amsterdam International Water Week, where up to three prize winners will be eligible for a first prize of USD 10,000 each. As a longer-term plan, there is the potential for the winners to be supported through angel-investment and other mentoring opportunities, to explore possibilities for the technical and commercial application of their ideas.