New research partnership with University of Bahrain to develop sustainable water engineering

At a special signing ceremony held in the Kingdom of Bahrain, a research partnership was agreed between the University of Oxford and the University of Bahrain. The agreement outlines future research in the area of low-energy osmotic technologies for the desalination of sea-water, and will allow researchers from the University of Bahrain to benefit directly from the research expertise of Professor Nick Hankins from the Department of Engineering Science and his laboratory in the field. It is hoped that joint research will result in high efficiency solutions that will help to reduce energy consumption for water desalination, both in the Gulf region and in the UK.

Signing ceremony
Pictured from left to right are: Professor Nick Hankins and University of Bahrain President, Professor Riyad Hamzah, signing and committing to a four year research partnership. The collaboration will develop avenues to produce water resources cost-effectively and sustainably in the future. Photo credit: University of Bahrain.

Speaking at the ceremony, Professor Hankins said: ‘We at Oxford see this as a long term partnership that will lead to a regional centre for sustainability, with a real input from Oxford and a real impact by solving critical regional and global issues’.

The partnership project will be funded by the University of Bahrain, with in-kind support from Oxford, to investigate ways to reduce the energy consumption associated with the pre-treatment of sea-water.  Professor Hankins said: ‘The energy consumption associated with established reverse osmosis technology is often up to four or five times the thermodynamic limit; a significant amount of this extra energy is used just to prepare seawater for the desalination process, and this represents a worthy goal for energy reduction’.

The agreement came about as a result of a Science Collaboration Symposium organised last year in Bahrain by the British Council, in co-operation with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and under the Gulf Science Innovation and Knowledge Economy Programme. The Programme aims to create opportunities for joint collaborations between universities and research institutions in Bahrain and the UK.

A partnership was also signed at the same ceremony with the University of Aston. ‘The signing of these partnerships was only the beginning of the road, and we look forward to further cooperation, coordination and exploration opportunities for joint research that contribute to finding solutions to the challenges our societies face in terms of water, energy and food’ said Professor Hamza, President of the University of Bahrain. 

With an audience of several hundred, the ceremony was also attended by Professor Hamza, Mr Alan Rutt, Bahrain Director of the British Council, and  Mr Simon Martin, British Ambassador to Bahrain.

For more on this story and Professor Nick Hankins’ research please visit:

Published on 24 May 2017