TCD Researchers Awarded EU Funding to Develop New Energy Efficient Water Supply Technology

Posted on: 09 June 2011

Researchers from Trinity College Dublin and Bangor University have been awarded €500,000 in EU funding to develop new energy efficient water supply technology in a collaborative research project.  The project aims to reduce the overall energy consumption of the water supply process by utilising excess pressure in the system to produce electricity to be used locally or sold back to the grid.  It also aims to reduce the CO2 emission associated with water supply and provide the water supply industry with a mechanism to reduce the operating costs of supplying treated water.

“Potentially this new technology could result in the reduction of water supply/metering charges for individual customers with a direct positive impact on households financially,” explained Dr Aonghus McNabola of Trinity’s School of Engineering.

Water supply involves considerable energy consumption, cost and CO2 emissions, in water treatment, pumping and monitoring. Treated water is most commonly supplied to a community from a central storage reservoir by gravity throughout a catchment and this water must be supplied within satisfactory pressure bands.  Where the pressure in water flow becomes too high, a Break Pressure Tank (BPT) is commonly installed in the network, whereby the pressure, kinetic and potential energy within the flow is dissipated to the atmosphere.  These BPTs, located all over the developed world, present an opportunity to recover energy from water supply networks by means of a hydropower turbine system, producing electricity and improving the sustainability of the network without interfering with the water supply service.   The researchers intend to develop new Hydro-BPT technology.

“From a business and management research perspective there are two challenges, the first is how to build and to sustain a network of partners which can exploit this opportunity; the second is how to establish a venture to commercialise the research findings,” commented Professor Paul Coughlan of Trinity’s School of Business.

The Hydro-BPT Project team were awarded over €500,000 in part funding by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Ireland-Wales Programme (INTERREG 4A).  The team consists of Dr Aonghus McNabola of the School of Engineering TCD, Professor Paul Coughlan of the School of Business TCD and Dr Prysor Williams of the School of Environment, Natural Resource and Geography at Bangor University.

In addition to the support this project has received from the ERDF Ireland-Wales Programme (INTERREG 4A) the project has gained the support of numerous industry stakeholders who sit on the project steering committee, namely: Dublin City Council, Welsh Water, Dulas Ltd, Isle of Angelsey County Council, and Gwynedd Council.