Unnaturally evaporated water is converted into energy by a UAE startup

Manhat, a UAE-based start-up, has found a way to utilize the naturally evaporating water from the Arabian Gulf as an energy source, potentially solving the world's water crisis.

The company, co-founded by Emirati researcher Dr. Saeed Alhassan and Vishnu Pillai, has been granted special accreditation by the United Nations to be a stakeholder with the agency at the 2023 Water Conference in New York.

Manhat’s solution involves going to the source and trapping the evaporated water, which can remove the need to use desalinated water in the Gulf regions. “Desalination is an energy-intensive procedure,” said Pillai. “Lots of electricity and burning of fossil fuel is required for this process. Also, when the byproduct — the salt-intensive brine — is dumped back into the sea, it affects the aquatic system.”

To test their solution, the team behind Manhat collaborated with Abu Dhabi Ports, using anchored devices attached to the walls around the sea for the first phase of the prototype. They later experimented with a modular floating device that could be easily scaled, as well as floating solar panels that could be used on large swathes of unused water surfaces. Manhat is now in phase 2 of its prototype and the technique it uses is patented in 18 countries, including the UK, India, and Australia.

The company is also testing a new device that has sand on top of it, so when the water condenses, it can be used to grow crops on the device itself. The technique could remove the need to deplete the groundwater.

Dr. Saeed Alhassan and Pillai met at their workplace in Abu Dhabi several years ago. In the process of migrating to Australia to complete his PhD, Pillai was surprised when Dr. Alhassan asked him to join Manhat in 2019. “At the time, Dr. Alhassan asked me to work for Manhat until my student visa came through, so I agreed,” he said. “I had quit my job and my family had moved back to India so they could join me in Australia. However, then Covid hit, and my visa was delayed indefinitely.”

Pillai used this time to lay the groundwork of marketing Manhat, and the company now has almost 3,000 organic followers on LinkedIn. In February this year, World Economic Forum featured Manhat and their work. “It was a dream come true moment for us to be on such a global platform,” said Pillai.

Manhat’s breakthrough in utilizing naturally evaporating water as an energy source has gained recognition from the United Nations, making the company one of the only two selected from the UAE to attend the 2023 Water Conference in New York. The conference aims to accelerate action on the internationally agreed water-related goals and targets, including those contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Source: Khaleej Times

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