Posted by: miktechnology | February 11, 2011

Global Hyper Saline Power Generation: Qattara Depression Potential

Global Hyper Saline Power Generation
Qattara Depression Potentials
Fourteenth International
Middle East Power Systems Conference

Cairo, Egypt, December, 19-21, 2010

Maher Kelada, MIK Technology


[Abstract] This article is a synopsis of the past and current technology development schemes created to propose the potential of generating power by the physical phenomenon of osmosis. In addition, it offers a new concept in exploring the potential of the Qattara Depression of Egypt and the like, not only for generating power, but also for creating vibrant living communities from these desolate lands.



I. Introduction
Osmosis is nature’s gift to life. It is the vehicle that transports fluids in all living cells and without it, all biological functions and all forms of life cease to exist! Osmosis is the spontaneous movement of water, through a semi- permeable membrane that is permeable to water but impermeable to solute. Water moves from a solution in which solute is less concentrated to a solution in which solute is more concentrated.

The driving force of the flow movement is the difference in the chemical potential on the two sides of the semi-permeable membrane, with the solvent moving from a region of higher potential (generally of a lower solute concentration) to the region of lower potential (generally of a higher solute concentration).

The term “Chemical Potential” at times can be ambiguous and elusive. In fact, it is one of the most important partial molal quantities. It is the energy source associated with the activity of the ions of an ionizable substance. It is equal to the rate of change in free energy of a system containing a number of moles of such substance.

Chemical potential can be viewed as another form of energy like electrical, gravitational, momentum, magnetic, surface tension, etc. Thermodynamically, this energy is expressed in terms of what is conventionally known as Gibbs free energy.

To prevent water permeation across the semipermeable membrane, a pressure has to be imposed against the permeated flow to equalize the force created by the chemical potential difference across that membrane. This force is named osmotic pressure. If the imposed pressure exceeds this limit, then water begins to flow from the region of higher solute concentration to the region of lower solute concentration. In this case, the force is named reverse osmosis pressure.

A. Brief history of hydro-solar Qattara project:
The utilization of the Qattara Depression to develop hydroelectric power was first suggested by the Berlin geographer Professor Penk in 1912 and later by Dr. Ball in 1927. Dr. Ball studied in particular the possibility of utilizing the depression for hydroelectric purposes by the formation of lakes at final levels of 50 m, 60 m, and 70 m below sea level, to which the corresponding surface areas were 13,500, 12,100, and 8,600 km2. Moreover, he indicated the most convenient water inflow routes (lines D, E, and F) with reference to the formation of the lakes [2]. See also FIG. 3.

After examining the effect of climatic changes, evaporation, seepage, minor transmission losses and the lowest cost per kW installed, he showed that the most convenient solutions were those relating to lakes at 50 and 60 meters below sea level. From geological and topographical considerations, he finally recommended -50 m below sea level with route D for the supply line.

In 1950, Siemens proposed a scheme involving the creation of an artificial balancing reservoir on the edge of the depression, continuously fed by two conduits from the Mediterranean.

In 1964, professor Bassler was appointed by the West German ministry of Economics and in his 1968 articles he presented a scheme shown in FIG. 2.

Unfortunately, he is the person who found dredging of a channel or the excavation of tunnels would be too expensive, so he suggested blowing up of a channel with nuclaer explosives, by driling 213 drill holes, filling each with one megaton of explosives; for reference each has fifty times the explosive effect of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. As a conequence of this frightening opinion, the Egyptian goverment, at the time, declined its support to the project.

FIG. 2 Qattara abandoned hydro-Solar project

FIG. 2 Qattara abandoned hydro-Solar project

FIG. 2 Qattara abandoned hydro-Solar project

B. Qattara Hydro-solar Project Aspects:
The primary objective of the final proposal was to transfer seawater to the depression by either a tunnel or by a canal. Steady state operation is based on the rate of evaporation from the lake surface when the water level reaches 60 m below sea level. The theoretical hydro-potential at this level is estimated to be 315 MW, assuming a water surface area of 12,100 km² and evaporation of 1.41 m per year.

Referring to FIG. 2, the proposed power potential of 315 MW was estimated by assuming a maximum flow of 600 m³/s, or 51.8 million m3 per day. This process would require about 35 years for filling the lake to 60 m below sea level.

The Secondary objective was to construct an elevated storage facility to be meet peak power demand of 2,085 MW for duration of 4.5 hours daily.
The site for this elevated storage facility was located atop a mountain 188.0 m above sea level, having a volumetric capacity of 45 million m³. It was postulated that this capacity is sufficient to meet peak demand for 3 days (15.16 million m³ per day) at a discharge flow rate of 936 m³/s during peak hours.

We question the validity of such concept. If 600 m3/s generate 315 MW by dropping water 60 meter below sea level, then how much energy is required to recycle 15.16 million m³ of water per day (175.5 m³/s) from 60 meter below sea level to store it at 188 meter above sea level? Unfortunately, our rigorous analysis reveals the fallacy of this power generation scheme.

III. MIK Technology Osmotic Power Generation
The MIK Technology concept for power generation encompasses world endorheic (dead ended) saline and dry salt lakes as well as from high concentration of formulated ionizable inorganic salt. The subject technology targets the world’ natural basins and hyper saline lacks.

Such natural basins include the Qattara Depression-Egypt, Great Salt Lake-U.S., Lake Torrens-Australia, Lake Assal- Djibouti, Lake Urmia-Iran, Lake Eyre North-Australia, Lake Baskunchak–Russia, the Dead Sea-Israel& Jordan, Lake Van-Turkey and many others.

Simplistically, osmotic power can be generated by running fresh water on one side of a semipermeable membrane and salty water along the opposite side of the membrane. Water tends to permeate spontaneously from the fresh water side causing accumulation of water in the salty water side, where this excess in water can be used to drive a power generation turbine.

FIG. 3 illustrates a simplified schematic based on MIK technology for generating osmotic power from a salt bed in Australia, known as Torrens Lake. This lake has a surface area of about 5700 square kilometers.
The process is based on transporting seawater from Spenser Gulf at Port Augusta, south of Australia in a 1000 m3/s canal to fill the lake. The concentrated brine is then used against the incoming sea water to generate power.

The potential power exceeds 2 Gigawatts in addition to a large amount of seawater minerals. The potential of this lake is much greater than what is shown. The conceptual design in this case was based on the premise that all excess and rejected streams had to be recycled to the lake. Therefore, the amount of minerals would be a controlling factor in defining the operation parameters of this system.

FIG. 3 Torrens Lake’s Osmotic Power Generation
In this case, if the excess flow with 6.91% salinity was returned to the sea, the generated power could approach 3.5 Gigawatts. Therefore, MIK Technology has adopted the concept of minimizing salt accumulation in their proposed scheme for generating osmotic power from the Qattara Depression in order to maximize recovered energy [4].

FIG. 3 Torrens Lake’s Osmotic Power Generation

FIG. 3 Torrens Lake’s Osmotic Power Generation

In this case, if the excess flow with 6.91% salinity was returned to the sea, the generated power could approach 3.5 Gigawatts. Therefore, MIK Technology has adopted the concept of minimizing salt accumulation in their proposed scheme for generating osmotic power from the Qattara Depression in order to maximize recovered energy [4].

IV. Proposed Qattara Depression Development

A. The Qattara Depression Aspects
The depression is located in the north-western part of Egypt and is the world’s fifth deepest natural depression. The depression is bounded to the north and west by deep escarpments but becomes comparatively flat towards the south and the east. The lowest point is found at a level of 133 meters below sea level.

The depression has a length of about 300 km at sea level, a maximum width of 145 km, and an area of 19,500 km². The northern edge of the embankment is bounded by a hilly ridge with an elevation of about 200 m above sea level, with the shortest distance from the Mediterranean Sea of about 56 km.

As indicated earlier, the primary objective of the hydro-solar project is to generate sustainable source of energy of 315 MW, with a secondary goal to provide an elevated storage of 45 million cubic meters to manage peak power demand.

It was estimated that steady state operation will be reached in approximately 35 years. In this process, salt continues to accumulate and water reaches it salt saturation within 30 years. In essence, the project will create another dead sea that will not be capable of supporting any form of life.

In fact, it was estimated that the depression could become full of salt in several hundred years [2]. This will not only prevent any attempt for site development, but will also create economical and environmental havocs in the Nile valley due to the salt dust that would be carried with the familiar North Africa sand storms.

V. Conclusion
Exploiting the potential of the Qattara Depression by employing osmotic power generation technology is a world- class event. This will be a witness to the tenacity and endurance of the people of Egypt to reshape their presence and to build a prosperous future.

This project is capable of generating 3.0 Gigawatts of power. This electrical power can meet the demand of a population of 3-5 million households, while producing zero carbon emissions and radiation.

Maintaining the Qattara Sea salinity constant can produce varieties of marine life in thousands of tons annually that will employs thousands of people in a large scale fishing industry. Recycled high salinity brine streams can be a major source for mining seawater minerals in millions of tons annually and in the process creating new industries and thousands of jobs.

Desalinated water produced by reverse osmosis powered with site generated electricity can irrigate thousands of acres as well as transform desolate lands into vibrant communities that have reliable energy and food sources.

Filling the Qattara Depression with continuously running sea water could significantly moderate the weather by about 3-5 degrees centigrade. The high rate of the evaporation can also be a beneficial factor in terms of enhancing rainfall.

The long shores of the Qattara Sea can also support major urban development and upscale resorts that could prompt migration from the Nile valley and the resettlement of foreigners and tourists.

In summary, the proposed technology will provide the necessary resources that will encourage the development and the proliferation of mid-Saharan communities [7].


Maher Kelada

©2009-2011 MIK Technology. All Rights Reserved.



  1. excellent report . Please send to the Egyptian Military Councllor HUSSEIN TANTAWY as soon as possible . Lotfia El Nadi

    • Lotifa, Thank you for you comment.
      If you are interest in the subject, you may need to check my Web
      Share the information with others, if you like.


  2. Terrific article! That is the kind of information that should be
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