Management of aqueducts in a “smart city”
25 July 2021
Green Valve is an innovative regulating valve for regulating water flow and recovering dissipated energy, designed by Prof. Malavasi’s research team at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering of Politecnico di Milano.
In September 2016, the working GreenValve prototype was exhibited during the open day of a Swiss company. This company deals with the development, construction and maintenance of hydroelectric power plants, emergency generator sets, industrial automation systems, pumping and lighting. Several Swiss municipalities were also presented and confirmed their interest in this innovative technology. Thus was born the first collaboration between Politecnico and the company that presented the development of the GreenValve among the other innovative projects to the Swiss Economic Development Office.
For the production of the valve body at a commercial level, contacts were made with the InterApp, a company that produces and sells valves internationally. This helped in the development and production of some industrial prototypes for commencing field tests.
The first industrial prototype of the GreenValve was successfully installed on an aqueduct in Vestone (BS). The project was born in the context of the steps taken for the Innovation features by the A2A group. It aims to experimentally verify the benefits of energy harvesting and exploring advanced features in the management of the water networks.
Simultaneously, Politecnico di Milano has promoted the valve in the Italian territory raising the interest of some companies mostly in the Lombardy region. These companies are involved in the provincial management of the catchments, distribution, collection and purification of water. This provided with the data related to the aqueducts for a study of the flows by the research group of Prof. Malavasi. It lead to the identification of the water distribution points where it would be advantageous to install a GreenValve for real-time monitoring of the flows and energy saving.
Thanks to the agreement between Politecnico di Milano, Interapp-Valcom and A2A Ciclo Idrico, it will be possible to consolidate in the field, the advantages that Greenvalve can bring. Greenvalve can optimize the settings of the current regulating valves (PRV-pressure regulating valve); the energy that is commonly dissipated can be recovered.
The main advantages of this installation are:
- The automation of the distribution network as this valve allows the real-time monitoring of pressures and flow rates; the network can be automatically and (or) manually be adjusted from remote.
- Reduction of water losses managed via software and consumption control.
- Connection to sensors for measuring water quality. To facilitate data control, an App has also been developed that allows monitoring of the valve from the smartphone.
- The possibility of monitoring and managing the hydraulic conditions of the network in real-time and of contributing to the energy optimization of the network creates the conditions for intelligent management of the aqueduct.
Greenvalve represents an important step for the automation of water networks by solving the problem of feeding the management, communication and control systems that are the typical features of aqueduct networks. When the energy recovered is in excess of a few watt hours, it could be used to power the battery of the GreenValve itself or could be used for other smart applications such as the power supply of disinfection systems or additional sensors to control water quality.
Once in business, GreenValve will open the way for the management of aqueducts, which are a key in a “smart city”. It will provide smart and real-time control of flows and the support to the users not connected to an electricity network.