Solid waste management

In 2007 KAU created the Centre of Excellence in Genomic Medicine Research and the Center of Excellence in Environmental Studies (CEES). Researchers at the latter have been investigating how natural resources in the kingdom, including waste can be put to better use.

Solid waste management is a growing challenge in Saudi Arabia.The country produces more than 15 million tonnes of solid waste a year. Most of this is disposed of in landfills or simply dumped out of the way. Recycling activity remains low. But with landfills expected to reach their capacity within a decade, the country is looking for alternative ways of dealing with its mountains of refuse. At the same time, Saudi Arabia’s energy needs are increasing, fuelled by a growing population.

KAU’s solid waste research group at the CEES is therefore trying to solve two problems at once by pioneering ways of turning waste into energy. The work harnesses the power of naturally abundant zeolites (minerals formed in volcanic rock and ash layers, and traditionally used in cement and building stones) in waste-to-energy technology applications, making them cost and energy effective.The group is also investigating the use of grass as a raw material for producing biofuels.

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