Tag Archives: water technology

Smart Water: Tech Guarding Our Most Precious Resource

 

 

 

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Now, with the global population topping seven billion and demand for water set to increase to unprecedented levels, new technologies are helping us make smarter use of this finite essential for life. (BBC)

Now, with the global population topping seven billion and demand for water set to increase to unprecedented levels, new technologies are helping us make smarter use of this finite essential for life.

According to the OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050, global water demand is projected to increase by 55% between 2000 and 2050, by which time more than 40% of the global population may be under severe water stress.

Put starkly: when there is not enough water to go around, famine, war and death are never far behind. But according to the World Bank we lose about 50 billion cubic metres of water a year through leaks and bursts alone.

Free-flowing data

This is something TaKaDu, based in Yehud, Israel, is addressing with big data analytics cloud-based software.

TaKaDu screenshotTaKaDu’s data analytics takes information gathered across the water network and works out how it is performing

It processes data supplied by sensors and meters dotted around a water company’s supply network, and combines this with information such as domestic and industrial water usage patterns and weather, to build a sophisticated picture of how the network is behaving.

“We turn raw data into knowledge,” says TaKaDu’s Moshe Tamir.

“We built a very smart algorithm that can spot anomalies in the network’s behaviour, from a small leak to a burst water main, enabling water utilities to plan and react much faster than before. And when you save water you save energy.”

Burst pipe in KolkataBurst pipes like this one in Kolkata in India cost companies millions of dollars in lost revenue

Mr Tamir says a Portuguese client saved one million euros in 2012 after TaKaDu’s software helped it reduce water lost through leakage – known as non-revenue water (NRW) – from 25.2% to 17.2% in a year.

Even a very efficient water network will experience about 10% NRW, says Mr Tamir. Inefficient ones with lots of leaks, unauthorised siphoning and poor monitoring can see this rise to 50%.

“Our software can tell utilities where to concentrate their efforts and even identify meters that are less reliable than others,” he says.

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The problem is that the water industry is incredibly conservative”

Ian ElkinsGlobal Water Intelligence

In countries such as India, water networks – where they exist at all – can be spread over wide areas. Data collection often has to be done manually.

Upgrading to meters that transmit data wirelessly, powered by turbines inside the water pipes, could save millions of dollars, Mr Tamir believes.

Sensing savings

According to research, the latest smart water networks could save the industry $12.5bn (£8bn) a year.

“There has been a big increase in the number of companies offering IT-based products aimed at helping businesses and farmers use more water more efficiently,” says Ian Elkins, editor of Global Water Intelligence, a business research organisation.

“The problem is that the water industry is incredibly conservative. There is plenty of innovation going on, but it generally takes about seven years for a start-up to reach a commercially sustainable position.”

With about 70% of the world’s fresh water supply being used for agricultural irrigation, and global demand for food rising inexorably, there is huge scope – and need – for technological innovation.

Hatzerim jojoba plantation in IsraelDrip irrigation technology like this, at the Hatzerim jojoba plantation in Israel, really can make the desert bloom

Netafim, another Israeli company, specialises in drip irrigation technology and recently won the 2013 Stockholm Industry Water Award.

Now more than 10 million hectares of farmland are irrigated using drip irrigation techniques designed to use less water, more efficiently. Crop yields can be increased by 15% to 40%.

While the concept of drip irrigation has been around since the Persians, the technology has advanced markedly.

Flexible pipe systemThe Netafim drip irrigation pipes are designed to be flexible for maximum coverage

It includes precisely controlled nutrient and water delivery systems, wireless monitoring using sophisticated atmospheric sensors, and self-cleaning subterranean pipes that reduce the amount of irrigation water lost through evaporation and mitigate contamination from surface water run-off.

Almost all aspects of crop planning, planting, growth and harvesting can be controlled using software linked to these systems.

This is helping to reduce agricultural water usage by as much as 80% in some cases.

As a result, Netafim chief executive Igal Aisenberg expects the amount of agricultural land watered by drip irrigation to rise from 5% to 25% over the next 10 years. But why is it still only 5%?

Ari Schweitzer, Netafim’s chief technology officer says: “Drip irrigation is more expensive than other systems – roughly $1,000 to $3,000 per hectare – and is perceived to be more complex. And as we know farmers are a conservative lot. But return on investment can be as low as one year.

“Our strategy today is to reduce cost and complexity so that our technology can be available to every farmer around the world.”

Stormy weather

Other companies blazing a trail in the growing “smart irrigation” sector include HydroPoint Data Systems, based in Petaluma, California.

Its WeatherTRAK hardware and software products optimise irrigation schedules by taking into account soil type, landscape, and weather conditions, as well as plant type.

Put simply, if there’s just been a downpour, you don’t need to waste money watering the golf course. Some of HydroPoint’s commercial clients claim 60% water reduction after using the system.

Big business certainly has a financial interest in reducing its water usage.

Global food and drink giant Pepsico, whose brands include Pepsi, Gatorade, Tropicana and Frito Lay, makes about $66bn in annual sales and uses about 100 billion litres of water a year to make its drinks and potato snacks.

Using technology like this Pepsico is recycling up to 75% of its waterPepsico is recycling up to 75% of its water at the Frito Lay plant in Casa Grande, Arizona

Dan Bena, the company’s senior director of sustainable development, told the BBC: “In 2012 we managed to reduce our water consumption by 14 billion litres, saving us $15m. We met our 20% water reduction goal four years early in 2011.”

Using membrane bio reactor and reverse osmosis technology in its Frito Lay plant in Casa Grande, Arizona, the company is now recycling up to 75% of its water supply and filtering it to drinking water standards.

At its British Walkers Crisps plant in Leicester, the water escaping as steam from potatoes being turned into crisps is captured and re-used, while Gatorade bottles are now regularly cleaned with high-pressure air rather than water.

And drip-irrigation techniques in China, the world’s biggest potato producer, have helped increase yields by 16% while reducing water usage by 40% at one Frito Lay farm.

Frito Lay farm in Xiangfan, ChinaThis farm in China grows potatoes destined to become Frito Lay crisps, using drip irrigation to increase yield

“We believe in getting more crop per drop”, says Mr Bena.

The problem with water is unlike energy sources, there is no alternative.

It is difficult to transport, expensive to treat, and extracting drinking water from sea water takes vast amounts of energy. This is why water has traditionally lagged behind in the cleantech investment stakes, says Global Water Intelligence’s Ian Elkins.

In 2012, just 5.4% of the $6.5bn venture capital invested in the cleantech sector went towards water technology projects, according to US research company Cleantech Group.

While progress is clearly being made, this investment trickle will have to turn into a flood if technology is to answer the world’s pressing water scarcity issues.

(Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23457166)

 

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Israel’s Water Expertise – An Industrial Moneymaker?

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In light of the forecast growth around the world for water-intensive industries, Israel could be missing out on billions of dollars in revenues a year from the development of industrial technologies such as for water purification or quality control. (Haaretz)

Israel excels in water purification and its drip irrigation technology enjoys a worldwide reputation.

At present Israel has about 300 companies that deal with water. Most of these specialize in developing products for agricultural and urban water systems. Few Israeli companies in this field, however, are geared towards the industrial market. This field requires production process expertise in targeted industries and strong marketing infrastructure.

In light of the forecast growth around the world for water-intensive industries, Israel could be missing out on billions of dollars in revenues a year from the development of industrial technologies such as for water purification or quality control.

The Economy Ministry, together with the Technion’s Samuel Neaman Institute and the Israel Export Institute, performed a study to determine where resources should be invested to boost exports. The study’s initial findings show a potential of $9.1 billion a year in water technologies for four industries where Israel has hardly any foothold: food, mining, oil and gas, and pharmaceuticals.

According to the study, this potential is based on regulatory requirements that force industry to adopt environmental protection standards in their use of water. Potential investment in water treatment for the food industry, the study shows, could yield $3.7 billion annually based on 2012 with 7% yearly growth over the following five years. Meanwhile, it could yield $2.7 billion from the mining industry with potential annual growth of 10% in the next five years; $2 billion from the oil and gas industry with 20% annual growth potential in the next five years; and $700 million from the drug industry with about 10% annual growth in the next five years.

‘Not geared to industry’

“There are Israeli companies that developed technology for preliminary treatment of water in the area of desalinization and this technology can also be applied to industry, but the companies aren’t geared toward that today,” says Dr. Gilead Fortuna of the Samuel Neaman Institute who, along with Shiri Freund-Koren, ran the study. “Companies engaged in cleaning the water flowing from households in urban areas could use the technology for industries discharging polluted water.”

“Israel’s water industry grew as an offshoot of agriculture and is starting to head towards industry where opportunities are larger,” says Oded Distel who heads the water project at the Economy Ministry. “We are just getting started entering the field of water for industry and the global industry is also in the process. While just a few years ago the level of action and awareness by industry concerning investment in water treatment was low, now it is increasingly on the upswing. Coca Cola recently changed its approach to water treatment, and the oil and gas industry also understands that the world is changing and that wastewater needs to be treated. The potential of global industry is nearly endless.”

Several Israeli companies in the field have zeroed in on the potential and are involved in industry, according to Freund-Koren. Atlantium Technologies, for example, has installations at Coca Cola, Strauss, and Tnuva that check the UV quality of water entering the plants. Blue I Water Technologies has installed equipment at Coca Cola and other companies to monitor and analyze various parameters of the water. Aqwise Wise Water Technologies treats wastewater at Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and food processing plants around the world.

The limited involvement industrial water by Israeli companies is due to the complexity of this field and the differences between plants, even between plants belonging to the same company as well. “Even a company whose products are installed in a certain pharmaceutical plant will need to undergo a long process to become involved at another plant of the same company because the water entering the process could be different,” according to Distel. “The production line could be different and wastewater regulation could be different.

“For example, a place with abundant water doesn’t need recycling like somewhere suffering from a shortage,” explains Distel. “But we see more companies looking towards the industrial market, and the industrial market is increasingly searching for intelligent solutions. The array of foreign attaches at the Economy Ministry is pushing hard towards the industrial sector. The future of Israel’s water industry lies in its ability to provide advanced technological solutions for meeting strict environmental regulations around the world.”

The study headed by Fortuna and Freund-Koren was meant to help the water industry to capitalize on more opportunities abroad in the area of industries based on increasing water usage. The work concentrates on sectors where company growth makes it necessary to find innovative solutions for overcoming existing technological gaps or increasing process efficiency in the face of global water shortages and tightening regulations. The study in its entirety will be presented at the Watec 2013 international exhibition in October.

(Source: http://www.haaretz.com/business/israel-s-water-expertise-an-industrial-moneymaker.premium-1.533650)

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