Digitalization of the water industry

How can we ensure water supply and wastewater disposal in times of urbanization and climate change?

Pilot project at the Technical University of Berlin

The fact that this groundbreaking project is being implemented at the Technical University of Berlin is hardly a coincidence – after all, urbanization and climate change can be experienced firsthand in Berlin. Since 2000, the population of the metropolis has increased by almost 300,000 people to the current 3.6 million, an increase of 10% in just twenty years. And another 200,000 inhabitants could be added by 2030. In addition, the last few years in particular have been characterized by long periods of drought and heat spells. Simultaneously, forecasts predict an increase in heavy rainfall events. This is causing particular problems for the wastewater systems, explains Prof. Paul Uwe Thamsen. He heads the Department of Fluid System Dynamics at the Institute of Fluid Mechanics and Acoustics at TU Berlin.

On the way to Water 4.0

Since the test rig is equipped with industrial components that are also used in numerous wastewater plants, such new solutions can also be put into practice more quickly, Thamsen explains further. "We can now demonstrate directly in our plant how the solutions integrate into a real plant environment and show the results live in the demonstrator. With our digital twin, we can now make the highly complex topic of digitization simple and tangible – especially for the employees in the plants working on site and those on-call. In my view, this is a real milestone on the way to Water 4.0," he concludes.

Concrete applications illustrate benefits

By integrating intelligent tools into the pump test rig, Thamsen has already been able to realize the first innovative concepts. For example, the current and voltage curves of the pump drive can be evaluated with Simocode motor management either locally or in the cloud. But the model in PlantSight can also be used to derive the potential for optimization from plant data using cloud-based algorithms. This makes it possible to identify and avoid common faults in pumping stations in advance.

 

One example involves clogging, in which long-fiber materials twist in the circulating wastewater flow and collect in front of the impeller. This can block the pump in the worst case scenario. "With the digital performance twin, we can detect clogging based on parameters and then clean the pump by reversing operation," Thamsen explains.

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