The European Union (EU) is strongly committed to fighting environmental challenges in all areas. One major focus point however has become water scarcity - not only due to a changing climate and a rise in demand, but also due to non-accountable losses within water distribution networks. In some parts of the EU up to 80 % of water pumped into distribution systems is lost.
Due to the water networks widespread geographic footprint, permanent material wear on the pipes, many access points, and no real-time information about network conditions and flow situation for the grid operator, water pipe networks are vulnerable to losses. Because of undetected pipeline damages, illegal withdrawal, and contamination, these losses can result in substantial damage to the environment and the entire region.
Water distribution networks are still not actively managed based on data and efficiency technologies but rather on mid-term operational planning. Leakages are only handled in response to apparent evidence with a delay of days or even months after occurrence. If any, they are located occasionally and manually on site. Facing these challenges, smart water management systems preventing water losses gain major importance. Water supply and sustainability strongly influences Europe’s economy and prosperity.
With the Life SmartWater project (Life16 ENV/DE/0000550) we aim to minimize those water losses that are caused by pipe leakages as well as the consumed energy needed to compensate for losses by pumping more water into the systems. Read in-depth about the goals of the project here.
These goals will be achieved by combining smart valve actuators with modern sensor technology and creating a truly smart water grid for the first time. The combination of innovative wireless and energy-autarkic technology which allows for cost-efficient retrofitting automation of valves and intelligent sensor and testing practices plays a key role in the execution of the project.
Valves allow or block flows. Automatic shutoff and/or remote control valves are effective and technically feasible. They are however not often used in buried applications - as which distribution networks can almost always be classified, for different reasons: high costs for instrumentation and control engineering (mains supply, cabling, switching cabinet including, PLC) and the respective underground engineering are just a few.
The actuators deployed in Life SmartWater circumvent all of those factors through patented battery- powered Energy Save Technology and wireless data communication technology. Learn more about our proprietary technology, which makes this possible here.