Oceanside Star: Water out of thin air

Via: Water out of thin air / Oceanside Star, January 23, 2014

A Vancouver company wants people to consider getting cheap, potable water from a widely available source: air.

Splash Water For Life has created two atmospheric water generators: one for industrial use and one for home use.

The residential water generator looks like your typical water cooler, except there is no big blue bottle on top and it’s not connected to the building’s water supply.

“The air goes into an air filter at the bottom of the machine and the water gets sucked out of it [through condensation],” the company’s Elliot Mashford told a group of curious residents at Errington Hall on Monday. “Water then gets pumped through five filters, including UV filtration.”

Air quality has no effect on the generated water quality, thanks to the many filters.

Mashford and Splash Water’s Karson Hutchinson were in Errington at the invitation of Arrowsmith Water Management owner Larry Crawford, who said he was blown away by the technology.

“It’s going to be very important technology,” he said.

Mashford and Hutchinson call it “disruptive technology” because it can stop people from relying on bottled water.

The residential water generator can produce up to eight gallons of water per day. The water is recirculated throughout the day to keep it fresh.

The generator runs on both electricity and diesel fuel at a cost of between 3-8 cents per gallon.

The industrial model can produce up to 11,365 litres of water per day.

Splash Water For Life executive vice-president and inventor Phil Fraser came up with the idea during a board meeting a decade ago.

“He saw somebody dump the water from a dehumidifier in the room and thought there should be a way to use that water,” Hutchinson said.

Fraser raised $5 million in financing over 10 years while he worked on successive models. After putting together the 18th model he felt confident enough to go to market.

The residential model is priced at about $1,000, while the industrial model’s price varies according to specifications. The filters need to be changed every year or so at a cost of less than $200.

The only catch is the water generator can only be used in regions where the relative humidity is between 40 per cent and 100 per cent.

“Eighty per cent of the world’s population lives in regions where the machine could work all year,” Mashford said.

On Vancouver Island, he said, the relative humidity rarely drops below 80 per cent.

The machine’s only byproducts are warm and cool air, which can be used to regulate the temperature of a room.

“At our North Vancouver showroom, we used it to control the temperature in our showroom,” Mashford said.

Atmospheric water harvesting has next to no effect on the environment, he said. If every home on Earth used the water generator, it would cause only an estimated 0.0002 per cent drop in water vapor levels in the atmosphere.

The company started selling the generators about 10 months ago. One of the machines is part of a permanent display at the Telus World of Science in Vancouver.

For more information, see http://www.splashwaterforlife.com.

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G&M: Making the most of wastewater

via Globe and Mail

Monday, December 30, 2013

By Richard Blackwell

The warm water being flushed down Canada’s sewers could become a huge source of recycled energy.

Wastewater heat is already being put to use in a handful of buildings in British Columbia, where a small company called International Wastewater Systems is on the leading edge of the technology and hoping to turn it into a formidable business.

IWS’s system takes heat from the water going down the drain from sinks and toilets in a condo, and transfers it to the clean water coming into the building. It can dramatically cut water heating costs, and thus pay back the price of installation within a couple of years.

The system works because wastewater is consistently at about 20 to 25 degrees Celsius. With heat exchangers, that energy can be used to generate hot water at higher temperatures.

IWS founder and president Lynn Mueller, who trained as a refrigeration mechanic, said he was working with geothermal heating systems when he began considering all the warm water which was being flushed down the drain.

“I was thinking that every day I comfortably flush down water that it cost me $10 or $20 a day [to heat],” he said. “That is perfectly good heat.”

A 2005 U.S. Department of Energy study estimated that 350 billion kilowatt-hours of heat energy is flushed down the drains in the United States each year.

The key to Mr. Mueller’s system is the special filter his company designed, which temporarily removes the solids from the wastewater, leaving it just clean enough to pass through a heat pump without clogging the heat exchangers. The warmth from the wastewater is transferred to a flow of fresh water – without either stream of water coming in contact with each other. The solids are then combined back into the wastewater before it goes down the sewer.

The system also has software that monitors it at all times – “a brain that reports to us before any problem exists,” Mr. Mueller said.

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CanWest: Power biz going to the sewer

via: Power biz going to the sewer, Feb. 21, 2013  CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc.

United Utilities Plc and Severn Trent Plc, Britain’s biggest publicly traded water companies, are increasingly feeding human waste into tanks of bacteria whose methane emissions generate electricity.

Sewage-derived power supplies 22 per cent of Severn Trent’s energy, almost double that of 2005.

At United Utilities, it’s 14 per cent. British utilities are shifting fecal matter to vats of bacteria that consume the waste, releasing biogas that’s burned to drive water treatment.

The result is lower energy bills and surplus power sent to the grid that heat more U.K. tea kettles.

Water businesses in Britain aren’t the only ones finding value in waste. Companies in Europe and China are turning more to biogas to counter fossil-fuel costs and energy price volatility.

Microsoft Corp., the largest software maker, uses effluents to help power a data centre in Wyoming.

Skiers in northern Arizona speed down slopes on artificial snow made entirely from treated waste water.

“We live in a resource-constrained world. We’re going to have to squeeze more and more out of our waste,” said Christopher Gasson, the publisher of Global Water Intelligence in Oxford, England.

Sewage sludge “smells like money to an increasing number of entrepreneurs.”

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Economist Intelligence Unit: Waterless in 2030?

(via: Water Efficiency Journal)

A recent study by the Economist Intelligence Unit (sponsored by Oracle) reveals that if water utilities plan on meeting water supply, large-scale infrastructure investments must be made—or else demand will outstrip supply by 2030.

The study, entitled “Water for All?”, compared the water resource management strategies of 10 countries—the US, Canada, UK, Australia, France, Spain, Brazil, Russia, India, and China—and surveyed 244 water utility managers and executives, including 20 “in-depth” interviews with water executives and independent experts. The participants’ answerers led researchers to conclude that while water providers are optimistic about their ability to meet future demand, that ability will be amplified or hampered by government action and consumer education. And all water purveyors will have to “think outside the box.”

“The leading overall response to water stress in the future is expected to be a sharp focus on demand management,” explains a statement released by Oracle in relation to the report. “This represents a shift in utilities’ traditional emphasis on continuing to supply increasing quantities of water in response to increasing demand.”

Meanwhile, developing countries have a tougher row to hoe. The study’s survey of water resource management strategies in the developing world reveals that climate change and erratic weather patters will increasingly influence the creation and maintenance of infrastructure in those countries.

“Utilities in the developing countries, in contrast, are more likely to focus on rolling out or expanding basic infrastructure,” states the report.

Other key findings:

* Increased water stress by 2030. Due to growing demand for water, caused by increasing populations, changing climate patterns, and wasteful consumer behavior, 39% of executives surveyed believe that the risk of national water demand outstripping supply by 2030 is “highly likely,” while 54% believe such a risk is moderately likely. Failure to address this could result in significant economic, social, and health implications.

* Barriers to conservation. Forty-five percent of utilities—especially in developed markets—see wasteful consumer behavior as their biggest barrier to progress, while another 33% believe tariffs are too low to stimulate greater investment. In developing countries, a lack of capital for investment tops the list (41%), while worries over climate change stand third overall (34%).

* Encouraging consumer engagement. Half of respondents (49%) believe pricing structures need to be changed to encourage conservation, while under four in 10 water utilities think water prices must be held down to ensure fair access to water for all (38%). With consumer behavior being the biggest barrier to conservation, it is critical for water utilities to engage with consumers to overcome this challenge.

* Increased investment. Almost all respondents stated that they are increasing investment to meet supply challenges (93%), with more than one in five (22%) increasing investment by 15% or more within the next three years.

* Innovative industry. Prompted by necessity, the water sector is becoming an increasingly prominent innovator, due to the implementation technologies such as smart meters and desalination solutions. For instance, one-fifth of water utilities in developed markets regularly evaluate new technologies, compared to one-third of developing countries. However, more water utilities must improve their ability to identify and implement such advances, with over one-third (36%) unaware of the innovation options available to them.

* Stumbling blocks. Drought and increased water pollution are seen by respondents as the biggest risks faced by water utilities, and are considered the most likely to occur. Similarly, half of respondents polled felt that that information and support from government bodies is lacking; while 43% recognize they must develop their management techniques to more precisely model future water availability or rainfall.

 

Water Canada: Water Quality Forecasting for Better Infrastructure Spending

Via: Water Canada, Posted on October 1, 2012
Written by Greg Rose and Tim Webster

Water resource conflicts are becoming increasingly prevalent as the intensity of competing uses of nearshore environments increases. Given the complexity of environmental systems, successfully managing and cost-effectively addressing these conflicts can be challenging. To address such challenges, a five-partner collaboration, comprising Golder Associates, Esri Canada, the Applied Geomatics Research Group, Scotia Weather Services and GeoNet, is developing and testing a water quality forecasting and infrastructure optimization system piloted in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Basin.

Funded by the Atlantic Innovation Fund of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the research project leverages geospatial technology for advanced mapping and analysis of various factors affecting water quality. When completed, the system will allow municipalities in the basin to focus their infrastructure investment strategies to maximize environmental returns and allow shellfish harvesting to be planned in a way that maximizes existing resources.

The issue

Shellfish harvesting is a key part of the economy of the Annapolis Basin, an arm of the Bay of Fundy in eastern Canada. For the region’s famed Digby clams and other seafood to be marketable, the water from which they are harvested must be sufficiently clean. This can be a challenge given the area’s proximity to sources of potential contamination, such as municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), watershed runoff, and concentrated deposits of fecal matter from seabirds and seals, as well as high tidal flows that can carry contaminants far from the source and render the harvest from some of the basin’s shellfish growing areas (SGAs) temporarily unsafe.

While current legislative controls in Canada, administered via the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP), provide the necessary checks and balances for protecting human health, their application is relatively labour intensive and expensive. Understandably, the current protocols are geared to exercising precaution. This often leads to closures of growing areas, in cases where these have the potential to yield high-quality harvests under optimal environmental conditions. Conversely, where shellfish harvested from non-prohibited areas are identified as contaminated during the testing process, the harvest is inevitably worthless unless it can be purified cost-effectively.

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G&M: Sewage as energy

Sewage as energy: an essentially unlimited resource

Francis Bula for the Globe and Mail, Tuesday July 10, 2012.  via: LinkedIn

B.C. is leading the way in using one of mankind’s most renewable resources to heat its buildings – sewage.

The trend started when both Vancouver and Whistler decided to create neighbourhood energy-generating plants (district-energy systems) for their Olympic villages. They became the first cities in North America to use sewer systems to provide heating and hot water.

The heat is extracted from liquid waste only – it is too difficult and expensive to use solid waste for this purpose.

Several developers and municipalities in the region, including Vancouver, North Vancouver and Richmond, are looking at jointly developing new sewage-powered, district-energy systems.

“There are different sources for district-energy systems, but sewage heat is sometimes the most attractive one,” said Jeff Carmichael, Metro Vancouver’s manager for utility research. “Especially if it’s nearby, it’s cheaper.”

He has developed a draft policy, to be voted on Wednesday, that sets out the rules for allowing other entities to access its systems.

There’s one enormous advantage to sewage as an energy source: it never stops. “The sewage just keeps on coming. It’s essentially an unlimited resource,” said Mike Homenuke, an engineer with Kerr Wood Leidal. That’s the firm that designed the Whistler system, which runs on treated effluent, and is working on potential projects for Metro Vancouver and the Capital Regional District on Vancouver Island.

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EMC News: Brighter future for Tay River, Perth initiative is all about green

EMC News – The future of the Tay River looks brighter thanks to a three-pronged initiative by the Town of Perth that will lead to significant improvements in water quality over the next decade.

The town’s strategic plan, “Community Plan 2022,” includes specific initiatives over the next 10 years that will help remove contaminants entering the river from Perth’s water treatment plant and sewage lagoon, as well as run-off from storm sewers.

Some of the innovative solutions Perth will use to accomplish these goals should serve as a model for other small communities to follow, said Trish Johnson, senior environmental consultant with the town’s engineering consulting firm, R.V. Anderson Associates. “This integrated concept is really the kind of thing that makes a green community. They’re not only leading by example, they are actually challenging existing practices and creating new best practices.”

Ordered by the provincial Ministry of the Environment to begin treating waste water discharged from its water treatment plant, Perth was faced with the prospect of having to construct a multi-million dollar treatment plant. Instead, the town has chosen what Johnson described as a low cost, low-tech solution to the problem. This summer the town will call for bids to install a geotube to filter the water being discharged from the water treatment plant. The geotube, a textile membrane, will filter solids from the water before it is returned to the river. These solids include alum, a chemical used in the purification of drinking water.

Geotubes are already being used to treat sewage in other communities, including Eganville, but Perth will be the first municipality to use the technology to purify run-off from its water treatment plant, said Johnson.

The environmental consultant credits the town with having the vision to pursue this lower cost option rather than building an expensive treatment plant. With government grants for such projects no longer available, Johnson said, “I’m beginning to see the end of an era of big, shiny plants.”

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