Alcoa completes first engineered wetlands wastewater treatment system in Saudi Arabia

Water News in a Nutshell.

 by Justine Coyne

 In a Nutshell:  Using technology known as “Natural Engineered Wastewater Treatment,”  Alcoa has established in Saudi Arabia an innovative wastewater reclamation system that mimics the physical, chemical and biological processes of natural wetlands.  It saves lots of money and 2 million gallons of water per day.

Aloca Inc. and The Saudi Arabian Mining Co. (Ma’aden) announced the completion of its engineered wetlands wastewater management system in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

The first-of-its-kind system will reduce water demand by nearly 2 million U.S. gallons per day and is expected to save more than $7 million annually that would otherwise be spent purchasing fresh water.

“This innovative waste management system demonstrates the value of combining Ma’aden’s local knowledge and expertise with the technological depth and sustainability leadership that Alcoa brings to the Ma’aden-Alcoa joint venture,” the executive vice president and chief technology officer for Alcoa said in a statement.

Alcoa’s wetlands system comprises three steps including (1) an anaerobic treatment tank which breaks down and separates organic material in the water; (2) a passive engineered wetland that utilizes vegetation for further treatment of organics and removal of nitrogen and metals; and (3) a cell housing bauxite-based technology that disinfects and polishes the water.


The technology, which was designed and engineered at the Pittsburgh-based Alcoa Technical Center, collects sanitary and industrial wastewater and cleans the and disinfects the water without the use of chemicals or the creation of water discharge and odors associated with conventional tank systems.

The water will then be reused in the manufacturing process and for irrigation at the Ma’aden-Alcoa aluminum complex at Ras Al Khair. The complex includes a refinery, smelter and rolling mill.

“(Sustainable Development is) a critical component of our operating excellence that will enable Ma’aden Aluminium to become the world’s lowest-cost producer of primary aluminum, alumina and aluminum products, with access to growing markets in the Middle East and beyond,”  the  president of Ma’aden said in a released statement.

The technology, known as a Natural Engineered Wastewater Treatment system, was developed to mimic the physical, chemical and biological processes of natural wetlands.

The project is expected to be fully operational by the end of July and the technology is being considered for other wastewater treatment applications throughout Saudi Arabia.

Source: Pittsburgh Business Times.

Gazette Fair Use Statement