$700,000 desalination challenge launched

Staff Reporter –
MUSCAT, March 7 –
The Sultanate on Wednesday launched the $700,000 ‘Oman Humanitarian Desalination Challenge’, which is looking at a hand-held, standalone, low-cost, desalination device suitable for short-term use and rapid deployment in the event of a humanitarian crisis.
The Sultan Qaboos Higher Centre for Culture and Science (SQHCCS), The Research Council (TRC), in collaboration with the Middle East Desalination Research Centre (MEDRC)-MEDRC Water Research, launched the challenge.
Such a device is expected to revolutionise humanitarian emergency response efforts in the aftermath of natural disasters.
Speaking at the launch, the guest of honour, Sayyid Badr bin Hamad bin Hamoud al Busaidy, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of MEDRC Water Research, said, “The Oman Humanitarian Desalination Challenge is about supporting a global scientific effort to address the humanitarian needs of those without water in the aftermath of a humanitarian crisis.
Our goal is to support the scientific and engineering breakthroughs necessary to produce an affordable handheld desalination device that can be rapidly deployed to sustain life.
Based on Oman’s deep respect of water as the absolute foundation for human life and civilisation, we open the challenge to the scientists and engineers of the world.”
An effective humanitarian emergency response in this instance would be for first responders to rapidly deploy a device that would enable you to easily and quickly, without need of electric power, turn the salty water that surrounds you into drinking water, until they could organise your rescue.
The Oman Humanitarian Desalination Challenge will run for a period of five years. An impressive prize purse of $700,000 reflects the enormity of the challenge.
Together, SQHCCS, MEDRC Water Research and TRC are hoping to attract top contenders from around the globe to put their ingenuity to test and take on this challenge.
Dr Hilal al Hinai, the Secretary-General of TRC, said, “Access to clean fresh water during and after natural disasters such as, tsunamis or floods are critical to health and
survival.
“For relief agencies responding to a crisis, the provision of water to the affected population is one of their first priorities.”
MEDRC Water Research will manage the challenge prize applications, starting from registration, to testing of devices, through announcement of the winning device.
Speaking of the challenge, Ciarán Ó Cuinn, Centre Director, MEDRC Water Research, said, “MEDRC has a simple mission: to find solutions to fresh water scarcity. Nowhere is that mission more urgent than in the immediate aftermath of a humanitarian crisis, where freshwater supply systems are destroyed, overcome by seawater or contaminated by viruses or
bacteria.
“This challenge is about putting the best science and engineering on earth to work on providing drinkable water in those critical hours and days.”