Innovative Technology In The Water Sector
Back in 2020, water and wastewater companies around the UK published the 2050 Water Innovation Strategy, the first time that a vision for the sector had been outlined collectively, with the aim being to deliver transformative innovation and tackle the water crisis head on.
The idea behind the strategy is to drive transformational changes and ensure that the best value is achieved for the environment, customers and wider society over the long term, through a systemic rethinking of practices, culture and enablers in the industry.
Innovation itself refers in this context, not just to new technology, but to research, testing new ideas quickly, gaining a new and better understanding of the challenges we face, failing fast and spreading and scaling successful projects to ensure that maximum benefit is achieved.
Estimates from Global Water Intelligence are that, in order to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals for water and sanitation between now and 2030, it will cost $4,056 billion for new infrastructure and $1,785 billion for rehabilitation… and this will require significant forward thinking and innovation.
One of the core ideas featured in the strategy was to set up a centre of excellence to help drive innovation – and, to this end, Spring was established in July last year.
The first Spring Accelerator challenge has just been launched and the first water challenge winners have been announced, with carbon-reducing solutions from three different companies now being taken forward.
Technologies from Xylem, Siemens and Cobalt Water Global are being pushed through thanks to a collaboration between ten different water companies.
Siemens, for example, is now using a white-box digital twin of wastewater treatment processes to optimise performance and reduce emissions. And Xylem is also making use of a digital twin-based control platform for process optimisation and greenhouse gas reduction in wastewater treatment.
As for Cobalt Water Global, the company is using its N2ORisk Decision Support System to reduce total greenhouse emissions at wastewater treatment plants significantly, with the focus on nitrous oxide.
Mobilisation workshops are now underway, with individual trials of each approach on the horizon. Welsh Water, for example, is running pilots for two innovations and has already hosted an information-sharing session with other suppliers.
Spring managing director Carly Perry said: “We are thrilled to have three innovative companies reach the collaborative phase of the Spring acceleration process.
“All three ideas have the potential to be game changers in helping the sector achieve its net zero challenge, which is why ten water companies want to work collaboratively to progress these innovations.”
She went on to say that collaboration is at the heart of Spring and it has been exciting to learn from the first challenge, scaling the value as further challenges are brought forward. Cross-sector collaborations will also be explored, with participation from a diverse range of innovators due to be invited.
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