The Precious Commodity of Water
- © mediacolors
Fraunhofer Institutes have been pooling their expertise in the research and development of effective water infrastructure systems and technology. Their objective is to take sustainable solutions for water catchment, infrastructure, and wastewater treatment and adapt them for use in practical applications on a national and international level, taking into consideration the relevant social, economic and environmental implications.
Diamonds Clean Sewage Water
Diamond-coated electrodes make it possible to clean water without chemistry. The idea is that hydroxyl radicals are formed in the water on electrodes coated with conductive diamonds. This highly effective oxidant destroys all substances containing carbon, meaning the organic pollution load of solvents right down to bacteria and pesticides. The only things that remain are harmless salts and carbon dioxide that escape as gases. This is how we can produce germ-free water without any problems. Researchers will demonstrate how this technique functions at their fair stand using the example of the textile dye indigo carmine, because the discolored water can be easily stripped of its color in an electrochemical cell with diamond electrodes.
Controlled wastewater treatment with UV light
- © Fraunhofer IGB
Industrial wastewaters contain organic pollutants that are not treated in municipal wastewater treatment plants. Researchers of the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart have been developing, in cooperation with European partners, an automated treatment system that breaks these organic pollutants down while simultaneously tracking the success of the treatment.
Drinking Water from the Air
- © Fraunhofer IGB
Drinking water can be extracted from the humidity in the air even in the desert or in the middle of a megacity, which is made possible by a technology developed by Fraunhofer. The principle behind it is a salt solution that runs down from a tower-shaped system and absorbs water from the air. The hygroscopic brine is then pumped into a tank that stands a couple of meters high and contains a vacuum. Then, energy from solar collectors heats up the brine and the evaporated salt-free water condenses over a distillation bridge. The brine concentrates again and flows down on the surface of the tower to absorb humidity in the air.
This process is exclusively based on regenerative sources of energy such as simple solar collectors and photovoltaic cells, meaning that this method is completely energy self-sufficient. That means that it functions in areas where there is no electrical infrastructure. This process is particularly well suited for extracting drinking water in arid and semi-arid areas where more water evaporates than precipitation falls.
Managing Drinking Water Systems
How can we best operate drinking water supply systems? Are there leaks in the line system? The researchers at Fraunhofer developed the HydroDyn management solution along with drinking water suppliers to provide answers to these questions. First of all, the drinking water system is recorded and modeled in the computer because that is the best way to figure out the optimum operating regime for these systems, or to plan how to expand supply systems. Beyond this, the system can automatically localize leaks. This is the reason why this software solution is already being used in Mongolia, Libya and Saudi Arabia as well as at the department of works in some German cities.
Tracking Down Leaks
There is a certain portion of our precious water that does not even get to consumers because of leaky pipes and rust and instead it seeps unused into the soil. "Intelligent" probes that check lines from the inside are one means of tracking down damage. Cracks or damage from corrosion in the pipes can also be localized with long-range ultrasound waves and these systems are suited for fresh water and sewage pipes as well as for pipelines.
Decentral water management system of the future: DEUS 21
Water management is a global key challenge of the 21st century. Innovations in all sectors of water management are essential – in industrialized countries and especially for the developing world. The Fraunhofer IGB has developed a toolbox of technical innovations for sustainable decentral water management systems. DEUS 21, a semi-decentralized membrane bioreactor plant, is one of their projects.