Smart water grids
The Dutch water supply network is continuously providing very high quality drinking water, and all of this needs to be transported in the water mains. These mains vary in age between being laid today and a century ago, with many different materials and laying methods used. The replacement value of the whole network is estimated to be more than €10 billion, so it is key to carefully replace end-of life parts. As indicated, there is much variety in the quality and operational state of the network: one specific section of the network could be leaking while another section, a metre further up, could be in perfect condition. There is much uncertainty about the quality of these mains, because it is hard to gauge.
Accurate information is vital to be able to predict end-of life parts and to replace then in time, to prevent downtime, keeping the quality of the water high, efficiently deploying materials and effort and assure good operation of the network. New technologies are needed, such as better inspection methods and measurement systems, combining data streams and a bright future look to anticipate for changes, because of the long term investments associated with water mains. The ambition for this theme is to develop methods for the in-line and on-line inspection of water mains, and the ability to make well-founded decisions about the possible replacement of pipelines.
The research in the Wetsus Smart Water Grids theme has delivered good understanding of PVC push fi t joint placement in relation to lifetime, the development of a method to characterize PVC material and concrete. Now, new ultrasonic inspection techniques are developed, allowing the condition of pipelines and appendages of concrete and plastics to be determined. The theme initiated the idea of an autonomous inspection robot, with the development of a prototype, this leaded to a commercial initiative. Data processing research delivers now unprecedented insights from existing data streams and future projects are aimed on better understanding of sensor placement, remotely sensing and predicting the state of the mains.
The close cooperation with the theme members ensures both scientifically relevant and applicable results, leading to notable innovations in the drinking water chain.