Smart system can reduce water leakage

Engineer Andrew Burrows of i20 Water has won the Grand Prix at the 2010 British Engineering Excellence Awards, held this week at London’s Globe Theatre.

Burrows, a chartered engineer, member of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects and an active member of the International Water Association, won the accolade for his design of i20’s Smart Water System, which can reduce water leakage by 20 per cent.

In use, the i2O system continuously adjusts and controls the pressure of water going into a district metering area (DMA) so that under all demand levels, low to high, the average zone pressure is kept to the minimum that is required.

It does so by applying a range of algorithms that vary the output pressure of a pressure relief valve (PRV), so that the pressure at the critical point in any DMA is kept at a more stable level, irrespective of demand.

An advanced pilot valve designed by Burrows replaces a conventional unit, while the controller to the pilot valve and a sensor located at the DMA’s critical point communicate with i2O’s server over a GSM network. Once data has been received, i2O’s software transmits specific algorithms for each DMA back to the controller, which then continuously calculates the optimum output pressure, adjusting the pilot valve accordingly.

Fifty of the company’s systems installed in Malaysia during July 2010 are each saving 250 tonnes of water per day. Other systems are currently in operation in Spain, Italy and the UK.

Judges described i20’s intelligent, pressure-adjusting water valve as a great example of creative problem solving. They were impressed by the way in which an intelligent and rigorous design was cutting water leakage without any need for digging up roads, describing it as ’an elegant solution to an urgent worldwide problem’.