KAUST spinout Al-Miyah Solutions delivers novel wastewater treatment

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) spinout Al Miyah Solutions has successfully demonstrated the viability of their new containerized wastewater treatment technology at the National Water Company (NWC) facility in Rabigh, Saudi Arabia. The plant is the result of five years of research by KAUST Professor Pascal Saikaly and his team, and addresses the issues of access to clean water and sanitation as guided by Vision 2030.

Nearly 40% of households in Saudi Arabia have no access to centralized sewer networks. As such, wastewater must be collected and transported, resulting in financial and environmental burdens from an ever-growing population. The novel wastewater treatment technology from Al Miyah employs a proprietary aerobic granular sludge (AGS) process coupled with a gravity driven membrane (GDM) filtration system and ultraviolet light. The AGS-GDM technology is utilized in a containerized system that produces an impressive 100 cubic meters of clean water, serving up to 1,500 persons a day. The system has a significantly smaller footprint and lower operational cost than conventional wastewater treatment processes.

Officials with KAUST and the National Water Company cut the ribbon at the opening of the Al Miyah wastewater treatment pilot plant; Rabigh, Saudi Arabia Photo: KAUST

The system can be mounted on a shipping container, is movable, plug and play, modular, scalable and robust. By demonstrating the feasibility and success of this new technology, Al Miyah Solutions has achieved a singular milestone in the efforts towards wastewater sustainability.

“The unit we are seeing here has been the fruit of several years of hard work by Professor Saikaly and his team, starting from lab-scale experiments, then running a slightly larger pilot. This wastewater treatment facility has successfully proved the fundamental process is sound and now we are seeing the full decentralized wastewater treatment plant here in operation,” said Kevin Cullen, former vice president of innovation at KAUST. “We hope that this technology developed here in Saudi Arabia, from KAUST, can make a great impact to ensure access to water and sanitation to where it is needed.”

KAUST Professor Saikaly (right) explains how the Al Miyah modular wastewater treatment plant operates; Rabigh, Saudi Arabia. Photo: KAUST

Al Miyah’s cutting-edge technology was developed by Professor Saikaly and former KAUST Research Scientist Dr. Muhammad Ali. The company began as a research project that went on to be commercialized through KAUST’s Near Term Grand Challenge research translation program. The project was finally realized as a startup through the TAQADAM Accelerator program.

To mitigate the damage and cost of untreated wastewater, Al Miyah set out to make it easier to treat and recycle treated sewage effluent with the aim of turning it into usable water. Their technology is able to produce water of reliable quality for non-potable reuse applications such as irrigation, horticulture and industry.

KAUST’s support of Al Miyah and their subsequent success is validation of the university’s continued efforts and commitment to finding solutions that address global issues of sustainability while also promoting a diversified economy within the Kingdom. KAUST will stay focused on its ongoing mission to advance a deep tech ecosystem in line with the goals of Vision 2030.

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