Saudi super cities will look to sustainable energy from waste

The government teams behind the construction of two new futuristic and sustainable cities in Saudi Arabia have recruited scientists from a UK university to help turn waste into energy to power new cities in the desert.

The team from Aston University have revealed they are in talks with experts from Saudi Arabia, including those who are building the two sustainable cities in the desert, NEOM and The Line.

The plan is for the development team to collaborate with Aston University and its Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI) to explore how they can convert waste products into sustainable energy and breathe new life into the desert.

The scientists and engineers are to apply their expertise to help Saudi Arabia create technology to convert discarded matter into a source of energy and other innovations such as using date palm waste to transform desert sand to allow it to retain water and grow crops.

Aston University hosted a two-day conference earlier this month to discuss how to develop and apply the technology. The event was a key element of the UK-KSA Waste2Energy project supported by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office under the Gulf Strategy Fund (GSF) programme and was led by senior lecturer in mechanical, biomedical and design engineering Dr Muhammad Imran.

Delegates attending the conference, included representatives from King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), King AbdulAziz University, The National Research and Development Centre for Sustainable Agriculture and the Saudi Investment Recycling Company (SIRC).

Professor Patricia Thornley, director of Energy & Bioproducts Research Institute, said: “The delegation chose to collaborate with and visit EBRI because we have common research goals, but some complementarity facilities and skills. We are looking forward to working together to develop some the shared priorities we have identified.”

Tim Miller, EBRI director of engagement, added: “Aston University has extensive engagement in the waste-to-energy sector through substantial industrial and academic collaborations globally. Advancements made by institutes like EBRI in waste-to-energy technologies are continually contributing to sustainable energy development.”

“The meeting provided an insightful overview of the project, emphasising the significant opportunities it offers to UK industries and academia for funding, collaboration and PhD opportunities.

“Our special appreciation is extended to Naif Makki from the Ministry of Energy, Saudi Arabia and his colleagues for their valuable participation.”

The event ended with a tour of the EBRI lab and biochar demonstrator plant and a visit to Kew Technology’s Sustainable Energy Centre in Wednesbury West Midlands.