Dr. Noura Mansouri

Senior Research Associate
King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

MIT Department/Faculty Supervisor(s): 

Mechanical Engineering, Prof. Ahmed Ghoniem

Fellowship Dates: 

11/10/2013 to 11/09/2015


King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM)


Noura Y. Mansouri is the manager of strategy and marketing at AREVA – Saudi Arabia. She received her PhD in clean energy transition from Queen Mary, University of London (November, 2013), PhD thesis title: Carbon Manage­ment for Sustainable Development: An examination of potential transition paths for the Saudi Arabian ‘national system of innovation’ towards a cleaner energy economy. She also holds an MBA in technology exploitation and management (clean energy) from the same university (graduated with distinction, London, August 2004), Master thesis title: Hydrogen Fuel cells as a Disruptive Innovation to the Oil Industry. Noura has done her first degree BSc in MIS (with honors) at Dar Al Hekma University (Jeddah, June 2003), she is the youngest student to date (15 year-old freshman student).

Noura has a diplomatic training certificate from The Fletcher School, Tufts University (Medford, July 2008). She has two publications and two in-progress. She participated in several international and local events, including: AREVA’s nuclear learning tour (France, June 2013), presented before the Saudi and German foreign ministers on the topic of renewable energy collaboration at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Riyadh, February 2012), participated in the energy discussion panel at Harvard University’s conference on Revolution and Reform (Boston, April 2011), participated at The GLO­BELICS PhD Academy (Lisbon, May 2007), presented at The Oxford Institute for En­ergy Studies Seminar (Oxford, February 2007) and was part of several youth programs organized by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Noura is a co-founder of CellA+ a network for professional women in Saudi Arabia (Jeddah, March 2012).

Research Plan: 

Exploiting Sustainable Energy for Seawater Desalination: The Case Study of Saudi Arabia.

Water scarcity is a global crisis; the MENA region is one of the most water-stressed regions. Saudi Arabia currently burns approximately 1.5 million barrels of crude oil equivalent daily to produce water, through desalination, and electricity generation.

Concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies hold great potential for water desalination because they could store heat to provide baseload for desalination, and because the technological improvements potential is significant, which can reduce its price. The coupling of desalination and sustainable energy sources has a great potential in MENA, this is particularly a neces­sity in Saudi Arabia given all the challenges tied with escalating energy demand, water demand, water scarcity, escalating carbon dioxide emission and virtually unlimited solar irradiance. Saudi Arabia has the largest CSP desalination potential, estimated at 23.7 Bm3/y where the average DNI at coastal desalination is projected to reach DNI > 2300. Therefore, for Saudi Arabia, CSP-powered seawater desalination could be the way forward.

The proposed study aims to answer the research questions:

• How can Saudi Arabia select the optimum coupling between sustainable energy and desalination technology, given its DNI geographical location, seawater salinity and best choice of technology?

• Given the challenge of rising local energy consumption and the dire need to introduce sustainable energy to the energy mix, can solar energy meet the requirements of energy for the current desalination capacities?

• To solve the intermittent problem, can storage technologies provide the complete solution? If not, what is the best coupling technique?

The work proposes to find the best suited design for desalination in Saudi Arabia to improve existing desalination technologies and find ways to create innovative design optimization and/or invent new technologies for integrating desalination MED, RO or NF with CSP technologies, as well as utilize storage technologies in the Saudi case study, including phase-change storage.

Expected Output could include:

• Fundamental knowledge about the Saudi status

• Create alternative design for desalination in Saudi Arabia

• Utilize and optimize sustainable energy and existing water desalination technologies

• Study the limitations of such systems and tackle the intermittent problem of solar energy and the current status of storage technologies