Spanish infrastructure company Acciona announced on Thursday that it has developed a predictive model for seawater quality that provides advance warning of whether Sea Water Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) desalination plants on the Arabian Gulf coast might be at risk from algae bloom and other events.

Acciona said in a press statement that its predictive model uses satellite measurements and Artificial Intelligence tools to forecast the probability of these events 72 hours in advance.

According to the statement, filtering systems of SWRO desalination plants are vulnerable to clogging from algae bloom, oil spills and jellyfish. To forecast when desalination plants might be at risk from these events, Acciona used NASA’s Modis Aqua Satellite to collect data from the Gulf from a number of parameters including water temperature, chlorophyll levels, salinity, and turbidity. The company’s Control Centre for its water business, CECOA, uses the satellite data to model a Turbidity Prediction index, which compares the clarity of the water in real time with historical oceanographic and meteorological data. When the index exceeds a certain limit, it triggers a warning for operation and maintenance staff to prepare for an algae bloom or similar event.

Snapshot of Turbidity Prediction index
Snapshot of Turbidity Prediction index
Snapshot of Turbidity Prediction index

The statement said the predictions are updated every hour.

Guillermo Hijós, Operations and Maintenance Director of ACCIONA water solutions in the Middle East, said: “With this model, we can forecast the future turbidity of seawater, and this gives our operations teams advance warning of any event that could compromise operations or scheduled maintenance activities.”

Acciona said it is working to expand its prediction system to other seawater parameters.

Acciona’s Middle East desalination portfolio comprises 6 SWRO plants under construction, 2 operating and 4 O&M (under construction). 

EPC projects (Under construction)
Saudi Arabia: Khobar 1, Khobar 2 (SWCC); Shuqaiq 4 (SWPC); Jubail 3B (Engie)
UAE: Jebel Ali (DEWA)
Qatar: Ras Abu Fontas Industrial for CTJV

O&M (Under construction)
Saudi Arabia: Shuqaiq 3 (SWPC)
Qatar: Umm Al Houl, Umm Al Houl Expansión and Ras Abu Fontas A3 (Kahramaa)

EPC projects (Completed)
Saudi Arabia: Jubail RO4 (Marafiq), Shuqaiq 3 (SWPC).
UAE: Fujairah 1 Expansion (ADWEA-EWEC).
Qatar: Umm Al Houl, Umm Al Houl Expansion and Ras Abu Fontas A3 for Kahramaa.

(Writing by SA Kader; Editing by Anoop Menon)