UAE start-up, Manhat has developed a solar water distillation technology combined with floating farms that it believes could tackle water and food scarcity in the MENA region.
Deep tech solutions
Deep tech United Arab Emirates (UAE) start-up, Manhat has developed a solar water distillation technology that it is combining with floating farms to tackle water and food scarcity in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
The distillation technology can produce usable water by trapping the lost evaporated water from the ocean.
It works by placing a large greenhouse-like structure on the shoreline and then using solar rays to heat and evaporate the water. Water vapour condenses when it touches the cooler side of the structure, before it is then collected and stored as distilled water.
“Our technology is patented, and its novelty is its ability to produce water from open water surfaces (such as seas, rivers and lakes)," Dr Saeed Alhassan Alkhazraji, the founder of Manhat and a winner of the Water Europe Innovation Awards 2022.
"There is other technology that has been on the market for decades, but it has limitations including being based on land and producing brine. Since our technology is on open water surfaces, we only capture water vapour which doesn’t contain any salt, so we don't have to deal with brine which is harmful to aquatic life," he went on to say.
Currently, Manhat is testing its technology with prototypes deployed around Abu Dhabi in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Ports and the developer group, Alreem Island.
“Our technology is on open water surfaces, we only capture water vapour which doesn’t contain any salt, so we don't have to deal with brine which is harmful to aquatic life.”
These prototypes include anchored devices that have been installed into the concrete walls of the corniche, Abu Dhabi’s waterfront, as well as devices that float in open water.
Alternative farming becoming more viable
Manhat is also building floating farm solutions that integrate with its water distillation technology, with the aim of tackling food scarcity.
“Our next goal is to launch a pilot floating farm to grow mushrooms and generate revenue. We expect the pilot project to be constructed and evaluated over 12 to 18 months," added Dr Alkhazraji.
"After this evaluation period, we will expand our technology to cover other crops including wheat and rice.”
“Our next goal is to launch a pilot floating farm to grow mushrooms and generate revenue. We expect the pilot project to be constructed and evaluated over 12 to 18 months.”
Vertical farming has previously been touted as one of the most significant trends of this century, especially with predictions showing the world population could reach nearly 11 billion by 2050.
Desalination developments in the region
The UAE is one of the world’s most water-scarce countries, with 80 per cent of its land being desert. Typically, desalination has provided the majority of water supply due to its ability to provide vast quantities of drinking water for its 10+ million population.
Back in 2021, the UAE announced plans for significant investment in Reverse Osmosis (RO) desalination capacity, with the Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) aiming to halve the carbon footprint associated with its water and power generation by 2025.
Elsewhere in the MENA region, three companies recently held talks with Egypt's government to build a $1.5 billion renewable-powered desalination plant as the country looks to get ahead on its growing water challenges.