Smart water monitoring, thanks to new invention
Climate change and urbanization are making it more challenging for cities to manage wastewater, stormwater and flooding. Researchers at IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute have developed an invention that uses sensors and AI to monitor water and to better prepared to rapidly manage various changes.
This is an example of a solution that saves both time and money, while providing the conditions for more sustainable work. Having up-to-date information at all times is beneficial both from a socio-economic and security point of view, as it provides opportunities to act proactively, says Fredrik Hallgren, digitalization expert at IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, a co-developer of the technology.
In several projects, IVL has investigated how sensors and digital tools can be used in the water sector to give early warning of pollutants and other events such as leaks and flooding in urban wastewater and stormwater networks.
The new, patented sensor, called the Turbinator, combines a camera, a laser beam and image analysis to measure water turbidity and level. One advantage is that it does not need to be in contact with the water.
With the Turbinator, we can get early warning if there are pollutants in the systems, clogging or blockages in the pipes, if the purification doesn't work properly, or if there are leaks or other deviations that need quick action, says Fredrik Hallgren.
The goal is to develop a low-cost, minimal-maintenance sensor that can be used by cities, municipalities and companies responsible for water supply networks. This facilitates the operation of the networks and reduces the need for manual inspections, which in turn leads to less disruption to traffic, for example.
The benefit of sensors is that they provide us with large amounts of real-time data. If we take advantage of these data sets and visualize the information in a good way, we can provide a better knowledge base and it becomes easier to make fact-based decisions, says Fredrik Hallgren.
The technical solution has been patented in Sweden, the US and the EU. This the Turbinator meets the patent conditions – that the invention must be new, have an inventive step, and be industrially applicable, which means that it must solve a problem using technology.
It's great that the patent was granted. It means that in the future, those who invest in productizing and bringing the technology to the market can secure their investment. Our vision is for the technology to be widely used and benefit society, and now there are good opportunities for this, says Fredrik Hallgren.
The next step is to continue experimental research and to demonstrate the technology on a larger scale, and collect data to develop services for cities.
If you want to know more about or participate in the development of the Turbinator, please contact:
Fredrik Hallgren, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +46 10 788 67 83
The Turbinator has been developed in collaboration with several actors, including the EU project ScoreWater and IoT for sustainable water management, and in collaboration with the City of Gothenburg, Stockholm Vatten och Avfall, and the companies Eeware and Greenwave. The funding bodies are the EU, Vinnova, IoT-Sweden, the Foundation SIVL, and IVL.
How the Turbinator works
The Turbinator combines a camera, a laser beam and image analysis to measure water turbidity and level.
The sensor sends a laser beam into the water, takes a photo of where the light hits the surface and, based on the photo, uses an AI algorithm to calculate the turbidity.
To develop the algorithm, IVL has gathered thousands of images together with reference measurements. The images are used in the training process of the algorithm.