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Prince Sultan Water Prize presented at UN ceremony

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Time: November 10, 2018  

NEW YORK – Under the auspices of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, the 8th awards ceremony for the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water was held at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman Bin Abdulmohsen Al-Fadhli distributed the awards to the winners.

The Creativity Prize went to the team comprising Dr. Andre Geim and Dr. Rahul Nair (National Graphene Institute, University of Manchester, UK).

Dr. Geim and Dr. Nair have developed membranes based on graphene oxide laminates, which act as atomic-scale sieves allowing water to pass through while blocking salts and other molecules, a mechanism completely different from that of polymer-based membranes. This promises to enable energy-efficient and high-volume water filtration. The team achieved this through a simple and scalable self-assembly process that provides stable, angstrom-scale slits at the precise size needed for desalination.

The Surface Water Prize was awarded to Dr. Wilfried Brutsaert (Cornell University, USA) for developing a new theory capable of estimating evaporation from the surface of the earth.

Dr. Brutsaert’s work develops, demonstrates and validates a new theory that can generate estimates of evaporation from natural landscape with successful application in numerous locations.

Evaporation is one of the most complex of all hydrologic processes, and its accurate estimation is a continuous challenge for hydrologists. Dr. Brutsaert’s method, using the nonlinear complementary principle, can be implemented with standard weather data without the need for less common and often complicated measurements. He has demonstrated that his method produces accurate results and can be applied over large-scale areas in various types of terrain.

The Groundwater Prize was awarded to Dr. Martinus Theodorus van Genuchten (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) for developing and applying key theoretical and software tools that accurately describe the mechanism of water transport, in subterranean groundwater systems.

Dr. van Genuchten’s work focuses on the development and application of key theoretical and software tools that describe water flow and contaminant transport in soil and groundwater systems and, in doing so, help to define modern hydrogeology. Software tools include RETC, CXTFIT, STANMOD and especially the HYDRUS codes.

The HYDRUS family of codes are now the industry standard for modeling variably-saturated flow and solute transport problems of all types. He also developed the van Genuchten functions, which are the standard for quantitative descriptions of the hydraulic properties of unsaturated porous media, including hydraulic conductivity.

In addition, he developed the concept of mobile and immobile fluids to describe flow and transport processes in structured soils and fractured rock. Taken together, this work shows him to be one of the most influential vadose zone hydrologists in the world today.

The Alternative Water Resources Prize was awarded to Dr. Omar Yaghi (University of California, Berkeley) and Dr. Evelyn Wang (MIT) for the invention of a solar device using an innovative organic metal frame to get water directly from the atmosphere.

Dr. Yaghi and Dr. Wang have invented a device using an innovative porous metal-organic framework (MOF) developed by Dr. Yaghi that captures water from the atmosphere using natural sunlight. The device, which was constructed according to Dr. Yaghi’s vision with the assistance of a team at MIT led by Dr. Wang, is capable of harvesting 2.8 liters of water per kilogram of MOF daily at relative humidity levels as low as 20 percent, operating passively without any power input, aside from ambient sunlight at a flux of less than 1 sun (1 kilowatt per square meter). The ease with which MOFs can be designed, made and modified by Yaghi bodes well for their commercialization and widespread use for water harvesting.

The Water Management & Protection Prize went to Dr. Jim W. Hall and Dr. Edoardo Borgomeo (Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford).

Dr. Hall and Dr. Borgomeo have developed and applied a new risk-based framework to assess water security and plan water supply infrastructure in times of climate change. Their innovations include a simulation-based method for analyzing the risk to public water supplies under non-stationary climate conditions, a new non-parametric technique for generating synthetic stream flow sequences for water resources systems assessments, a new method for simulating the impact of unprecedented droughts on public water supplies, and a process for identifying water security investments that meet an acceptable level of water-related risk. Their methods assist water managers in planning investments and policies to cope with the risks confronting their water systems. This has made them one of the most influential groups providing engineering and scientific advice for water resources planning and adaptation to climate risks in the UK and globally.

 

This article was first published in Saudi Gazette

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