The object of this study is to determine the feasibility of utilizing the energy resources available in the coastal region of Saudi Arabia adjacent to the western shore of the Arabian (Persian) Gulf for the development of an agro-industrial complex. The book actually comprises two studies. The first, prepared by an interdisciplinary group of MIT students (as part of a special course in systems engineering), is based on utilizing natural gas to power a number of hypothetical projects, which are then weighted in terms of their economic viability. The second study grew out of an effort by Ali Kettani and his associates at the College of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and is based on a novel means of hydroelectric power generation.
Natural gas is a byproduct of Saudi Arabia's enormous oil production, and currently a large fraction of this gas is being burned off merely to dispose of it. The first study investigates possibilities of tapping this natural energy source for electric power generation, the desalination of water for crop irrigation, the production of liquified natural gas and petrochemicals, the extraction of magnesium from sea water, and the development of aluminum, steel, cement, glass, and fertilizer industries.
In the second study, it is proposed that a dam be constructed across the mouth of the Gulf of Bahrain. The evaporation of water behind this dam would produce, first, a difference of water level making possible the heliohydroelectric generation of power and, second, a concentrated brine from which minerals might be recovered. Aquaculture and land reclamation possibilities are also considered.
This is another in the series of reports that have resulted from the interdisciplinary student projects in systems engineering conducted each spring term at M.I.T. In 1968 the class was given the task of studying the problems facing the Boston seaport and the airport, which serve the northeastern United States, and recommending steps that might be undertaken to enable the ports to meet the demands of the next twenty years.
During the study, the class surveyed existing port facilities, developed models for projecting future demand, investigated alternate sites at which new airport and seaport installations might be located, and examined the labor, management, social, and economic problems of the port.
The recommended solution proposes an off-shore airport to be developed in the vicinity of a group of small islands in the mouth of Boston Harbor, the upgrading of certain seaport facilities to enable them to handle containerized cargo more efficiently, the abandonment of other facilities, and the eventual development of a portion of the existing airport to handle containerized cargo. The entire program would extend over a period of approximately twenty years.
The students concluded that noise and pollution from 400-passenger jumbo jets and supersonic transports makes location of jetports away from residential areas mandatory. Moreover, they found that the practicality, within the next 20 or 30 years, of relatively quiet vertical and short takeoff and landing aircraft will make short-haul (under 500 miles) flights accessible from a variety of suburban neighborhoods.
The Project BOSPORUS class included graduate students and seniors from several M.I.T. Departments: mechanical, electrical, and marine engineering, city planning, aeronautics and astronautics, economics, political science, mathematics, and management, and, under a cross-registration agreement of long standing, the Harvard Law School.
In earlier projects, students have designed a Boston-Washington high-speed transport system (Project GLIDEWAY), an automated metropolitan transportation system (Project METRAN), and a prototype residential area for 100,000 people built on Boston Harbor islands (Project ROMULUS). The reports of these Projects have been published by The MIT Press.