Free-form in Qatar: The New Domestic Solid Waste Management Centre

The first integrated solid waste facility in the Middle East began operation near Mesaieed, Qatar, in October 2011. The facility treats and processes domestic solid waste for the whole of Qatar - recycling select materials and using organic waste to generate various forms of energy. More than 95% of the waste is reclaimed or converted into energy, with less than 5% of the materials entering the facility diverted to a landfill.


The Domestic Solid Waste Management Center (DSWMC) supports four separate processes: (1) waste sorting and recycling; (2) composting; (3) waste-to-energy incineration; and (4) the disposal of nonrenewable materials in a landfill. These processes work together synergistically, complementing and feeding off one another to support increased energy and material recovery. The facility is capable of treating up to 2,300 tons of domestic solid waste per day, and incinerates approximately 1,000 tons of other waste.

Early in the construction process, Keppels Seghers, the Singaporean engineering firm contracted to design, build and operate the DSWMC, sought a roof structure for the Green Waste Storage Building of the DSWMC Composting Plant. Green Waste includes yard and garden waste, tree cuttings, as well as food and kitchen products such as expired vegetables or peels. The material is received at the Composting Plant and is subsequently shredded, screened and stored inside the Green Waste Storage facility. Grab-cranes then feed the material into anaerobic digesters which further break down the waste and produce biogas which is eventually translated into a form of power generation.


To house the green waste breakdown process, Keppels Seghers required a structure that could span the large, open space of the building, without internal support columns to interrupt the flow of materials and waste. Initially, Keppels Seghers designed the structure as a large steel framed roof with trusses. However, after considering the advantages of the Geometrica system, Keppels Segher decided to change the design of the structure to a Geometrica dome.


“We were already aware of Geometrica's systems,” said Geoffrey Piggott, the Keppels Seghers director of the Qatar facility. “But they visited us, and gave us an impressive proposal that was aesthetically attractive, cost competitive and had schedule advantages to us as well.”


The type of Geometrica dome selected for the project was a Freedome, Geometrica’s trademark free-style dome. The dome designed for the Qatar waste center offers all the advantages of circular domes, but accommodates a non-circular arrangement. Four parameters are considered when defining a Freedome: the border of the dome, the height of the apex, one meridian, and the angle at which the selected meridian is taken.

The Qatar Freedome is rectangular in shape and sits on a concrete perimeter that varies in elevation. The dome is almost 20 meters tall above its support wall, is clad in with 3,384 pieces of painted steel epoxy, and covers 1,923 square meters – the area needed to house the Green Waste storage and its various sorting and shredding machinery. According to the Qatar Green Building Council Solid Waste Interest Group, the DSWMC composting facility is the largest composting plant in the world, and Geometrica’s unique structural system of creating long-span structures offered the ideal cover for it.


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