Finding out the Atlantic Hub main advances: Midlands and Galicia Living Labs 

The REWAISE Living Labs target to demonstrate in real-life, large scale operational environment the technological innovations to extract the value in, from and through water, contributing to a secure smart water supply for the European society. In order to address different climate areas, water sources, users, raw materials, nutrients and bioproducts, REWAISE’s living labs are organised in three hubs: Mediterranean, Atlantic and Continental.

Throughout these two years of work, the implementation of the REWAISE hubs has made significant progress, which we will summarise in different articles. On this occasion, we met with the Atlantic hub to hear about their main advances.

The REWAISE Atlantic hub aims to validate the processes developed in earlier work packages, focussing on design and validation of innovative solutions, both digital & technological.  The hub is delivering evaluations across three living labs, between them addressing the value in, through and from water:

  • Midlands (UK) looking at Ammonia scrubbing and H2 bio-energy, an integrated approach to leakage detection, and a smart WW networks for asset stretching
  • Vigo (ES) focussing on recovery of water, energy and nutrients from sewer mining, using AnMBR, ultrafiltration of potable water, and digital water systems
  • Cantabria/Asturias (ES) developing a self-sufficient WWTP, and optimisation control using FIWARE modules

Midlands Living Lab

Located in the central region of the UK, the Midlands Living Lab, hosted by Severn Trent Water (STW), in collaboration with Coventry University, Organics Group, and Environmental Monitoring Solutions (EMS), has three streams of activity;

  • Leakage detection module – implementing live trials of fibre as a means of leakage; a no dig leakage repair technique; smart meters trials and analysing the best use of smart meter data; a smart valve solution (valve optimisation & automation); and proving an AI-based leakage robot
  • Smart wastewater management – demonstrating the power of IWANs in addressing hydraulic capacity issues in wastewater networks
  • Ammonia recovery and hydrogen generation – ammonia scrubbing and electrolyser demonstrators; processing centrate WW to recover ammonia and generate ‘green’ hydrogen

Smart Valve solutions:

Throughout a water network there are key these valves that are needed to optimise, repair, maintain or rezone our network, these are generally manually operated by a distribution service technician (DST) as the valves are in areas where traditional methods of actuating valves are not possible or are difficult to reach.

Severn Trent Water (STW) and R2M Ltd have successfully installed 3 remotely operated, battery powered 3S actuators across the region to understand the benefits.

All valves have been operated multiple times since installation, one of which was operated 8 times in a 24-hr period and ensured that customers were kept on supply.

Significant carbon benefits have been realised through the reduced demand on DST travel and mitigating the need to tanker water across the network to maintain supply.

No Dig leakage repair (Aqulainer Trial):

Aqualiner enables Severn Trent Water to structurally reline the mains, with minimal impact. The trial of the Aqualiner was 100% successful and has now meant that a redundant part of STWs water infrastructure network (previously removed from commission due to the risk imposed) has now been re-commissioned to supply. Feedback from the Network Operations team was overall positive, and the installation technique is significantly less invasive and cost efficient than current methods available on the market. 

Main before lining                             
Post Main lining

As well as rehabilitating an existing asset to full structural stability, STW have also seen significant water quality improvements as a result of recommissioning the main. 

The next stage is for Aqualiner to provide the relining technology at a wider size range than the current 9” main solution.

AI-Based Robotics: STW are committed to sustainably reduce Leakage by 50% over the next 20 years.

  Initial trials using FIDO technology produced highly effective results, upholding a good level of accuracy.  Leaks were found faster, with the ‘company standard’ leakage detection reduced by >7hrs, to an average 4hrs per leak, with further potential to drive this down further. 

FIDO Technology

Not only has FIDO improved STW’s ability to find leaks faster, but the positive impact on reduced water losses is also coupled with positive carbon reduced (less travel) and improved dig productivity.

However, leaving the technology in-situ is currently cost-prohibitive, without a change in working practices; an organisational change would be required to fully maximise the technologies potential.

Fibre in Water:

This project is investigating how STW can use fibre optic cables and data analysis to identify leaks on buried water mains. STW undertook a ‘lift and shift’ install of a fibre optic cable in a live distribution pipe in 2020 and successfully identified and pinpointed simulated leakage on that main.

STW are now working to install a fibre optic cable in a live large diameter raw water main, to assess the effectiveness of analysers from a range of suppliers to pinpoint simulated leaks.

Smart Meters & Smart Data:

Maintaining water supplies for the future is at the forefront for STW; smart meters are being installed to help better understand the flow of water across the STW network, to use meter data to reduce leakage by identifying and fixing leaks sooner, and to enable customers to be informed of their water usage and where they can save water and potentially reduce their water bills. 

Initial smart meter installs are near completion in the Central region of STW.  After a period of building a history of data this data will be extracted and analysed by Data Scientists to start to understand how these meters can benefit in reduced water losses and inform consumers on consumption improvements.

Smart Meters

Smart Waste Management:

Severn Trent Water (STW) and Environmental Monitoring Solutions (EMS) have been developing a solution to reduce spills to rivers from stormwater overflows. AI active flow control devices link to sensor networks to manage sewers during rainstorm events, which affords the system the capability to attenuate flows using the network already in place; with the potential to significantly reduce the costs and carbon required to reduce spills.

EMS & STW have identified suitable sites for the IWAN demonstrator. Hydraulic modelling has enabled three installation sites to be identified, and has calculated the IWAN scheme can reduce spills by 46% per year: reducing the average annual spill count to 33 spills per year, below the targeted 40 spills per year.  For the identified locations, LIDAR scanning has provided detailed 3D models with which to design actuated control valves for installation in the CSOs and manhole chambers.   These devices are in manufacture, ready for deployment in the autumn of 2022. Following installation, the IWAN system will be monitored for performance, allowing necessary modifications to improve performance.

Ammonia Recovery and Hydrogen Generation:  

STW have committed to research, explore and develop opportunities for ammonia extraction and hydrogen generation to enhance environmental and financial performance.  A recovery process would avoid circa 3.7KtCO2 of process emissions from our conventional biological treatment processes, generating an ammonia product which could either eliminate the release of 15KtCO2 associated with the production of ammonia or be converted to 400t of hydrogen to displace three million litres of diesel road vehicle fuel.  STW are collaborating with Coventry University and Organics to deliver this project.

Coventry University have been developing a lab-scale electrolyser that will convert recovered ammonia to hydrogen.   `

To date, various electrolyser cells have been designed, built and trialled with the aim of finalising the most effective cells for the pilot electrolyser. 

Organics, already technologically advanced in ammonia stripping systems, are developing their process to enable ammonia recovery from wastewater

The recovered ammonia will be used as a source of carbon free fertilizer.  Organics will also support Coventry University with the design and build of a prototype, pilot-scale, electrolyser that will generate hydrogen from the recovered ammonia.

The next stage is to complete design and build of the ammonia recovery and electrolyser units and install at STWs Resource Recovery Innovation Centre (R2IC); and to assess the performance of the units and understand the uses and potential of the recovered ammonia and generated hydrogen.

Galicia Living Lab

The objective of the activities of REWAISE in the Galicia Living Lab is to integrate Sewer Mining, Drinking Water filtration and the application of smart network management, so offering better water management and recovery of resources from wastewater.

Galicia Living Lab functions in a triple helix setup, based on a PPP collaboration, having Zona Franca de Vigo the public owner of the area representing a governmental institution and Aqualia as private company who is the promoter and host of the Living Lab. Universities of Santiago and Valencia which have strong connections with Aqualia are the research pillars of the triple helix. The initial focus was the city of Nigran and the Stellantis plant in Vigo, but the promotors are targeting other zones to join with similar climate environment, that could use the same technologies, as Galicia Living Lab has clear objectives for the term of REWAISE project, namely, to demonstrate resource recovery from wastewater streams and once the methodology is validated, create new service assignments by offering pre-validation services.

The water, energy and nutrients contained in domestic wastewater are recovered combining sewer mining with Anaerobic Membrane Reactor technology, using the MEMB-RANER (Membrane Reactor for Anaerobic Nutrient and Energy Recovery) technology, which allows to convert organic matter directly to biomethane, without wasting electricity on aeration. This technology was developed jointly between the University of Valencia, Politecnica de Valencia and Aqualia. It produces effluent rich in nutrients with high quality, free of solids and pathogens, for reuse in agriculture or industry, and it was demonstrated in an office building in Nigrán (Porto do Molle Business Center) in partnership with the owner of the building, Zona Franca de Vigo (ZFV), in a pilot plant (1 m3/d).

A larger pilot plant (11 m3/d) has been designed and installed in the Balaídos industrial park (Vigo) where Stellantis has an important, innovative and efficient car factory (>1000 cars/d production capacity). Energy and water can be recovered and reused in the production process.

Installation of the MEMB-RANER pilot in Balaídos industrial park

Next steps related to MEMB-RANER are the design of a full-scale reactor for the treatment and recovery of resources from wastewater (up to 500 m3/d) and the optimization of the Bio-Methane recovery, by upgrading the biogas obtained in the reactor and by recovering the methane dissolved in the permeate, avoiding greenhouse gas emissions (using membrane degasification).

Membrane degasification unit in Porto do Molle

Nutrients recovery is achieved in the effluent of the anaerobic processes, by the use of recovery technologies, as the struvite precipitation process, or by the direct application of the high-quality nutrient-rich MEMB-RANER permeate for fertigation purposes.

Related to smart network management, in Moaña, a DSS will provide suggestions to engineers and operators towards the optimal control and integrated management of the sanitary system. Process characteristics and control points have been identified and grey-box models are under development. The sanitary system is being upgraded with soft-sensors for continuous monitorisation of levels, flows, and quality parameters. Collected data will be used as inputs by the grey-box models, and AI algorithms to achieve operative optimisation, reduce CSO, evaluate the effect of climate change and heavy rainfalls in the sanitary system and identify Inflow/Infiltration problems.