Seabed Filter Feasibility Study of Om Almisk Island

  • Kathryn Sesler

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Freshwater access has always been and is continuing to be a severe problem in desert coastal regions, despite the fact that they have an unlimited supply of easily accessible saline water. Water desalination plants are well established and heavily relied upon throughout the Middle East, Saudi Arabia in particular. However, water desalination tends to be a very expensive and energy intensive solution to the problem. The transition from using open water intake systems and all of the pretreatment processes that they require, to using seabed water filters as an intake, would potentially reduce the lifetime costs, energy consumption, and environmental impacts commonly associated with water desalination. This is because the filtration process that the seabed filter generates, serves as sufficient pretreatment for seawater as well as eliminating any risk of entrainment or impingement of marine organisms. The main objective of this research is to conduct a feasibility study on Om Almisk Island, an island off the coast of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), to determine if it would be a suitable location to construct a seabed water filter as a replacement for the current open water intake. The Om Almisk Island site was evaluated through collection of sand samples over a radial grid around Om Almisk Island and sample analysis using grain size distribution, porosity, and hydraulic conductivity. The lack of mud, high hydraulic conductivity, proximity to KAUST, and the shallow waters of the sandy apron surrounding Om Almisk Island make this an ideal location for a seabed water filter to be used as an intake and pretreatment for the KAUST desalination plant. This location also has low tide change and the presence of benthic macrofauna to create bioturbation in the sediments, which could inhibit the growth of a schmutzdecke. If this biological layer forms, it could drastically reduce the hydraulic conductivity of the system. Due to the high hydraulic conductivity of the native sand, a relatively small footprint is possible for the design of the filter. A design with an intake of 105,000 m3/day, using four active galleries and one standby gallery was generated.
Date of AwardJun 2012
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Biological, Environmental Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorThomas Missimer (Supervisor)


  • Seabed Filter
  • Ro pretreatment
  • Seabed galleries
  • Hydraulic Conductivity

Cite this