Jeddah researchers explore alternative energy sources

Jeddah researchers explore alternative energy sources

JEDDAH: The ever-increasing energy consumption in the Kingdom has attracted the attention of Saudi scientists and spurred them to explore alternative renewable energy possibilities utilizing local natural resources.

Though fossil fuels such as petroleum and natural gas are used to fulfill the country’s energy needs, the government plans to double its current energy generating capacity up to 120GW by 2032.

Jeddah researchers explore alternative energy sources

Around half of this energy will be generated from different renewable-energy sources such as solar, nuclear, wind, geothermal and waste-to-energy.

King Abdul Aziz University’s Dr. Abdul Sattar Nizami, who is leading the solid waste group, has successfully converted plastic waste into liquid fuel and valuable char using a small-scale pilot pyrolysis reactor.

Speaking to Arab News, Dr. Nizami said that Saudi Arabia’s natural minerals such as natural zeolite and black lava have great potential in waste-to-energy technologies such as pyrolysis, anaerobic digestion, gasification and trans-esterification.

Moreover, he said, technology can increase the nutrient quality of organic fertilizer produced from composting local food waste.

The problem of municipal solid waste in Saudi Arabia can be solved through these technologies with the added bonus of renewable energy and valuable products such as organic fertilizer, animal feed and materials.

According to Dr. Nizami, both natural zeolite and black lava are found abundantly in the country.

The inherent characteristics of these minerals, particularly natural zeolite for waste-to-energy, has been examined by a team of scientists who are part of the solid waste research group in the Center of Excellence in Environmental Studies (CEES) of King Abdul Aziz University.

While highlighting the center’s research activities, Prof. Iqbal Mohammad Ismail, the deputy director of the center, said it was focusing on societal and industrial problems related to air, water and solid waste.

The aim of the on-going scientific research is to provide sustainable, economical and environmentally friendly solutions for local problems utilizing local resources, Prof. Ismail said.

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