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Water Supply Network Integrated Energy Recovery to Replace Energy Wasting Pressure Regulation Valves for Improving Operational Efficiency and Reducing Operational Carbon Emissions

   Hydro Nation Scholars Programme

About the Project

Within Scotland, one single network operations company, Scottish Water, are responsible for managing the supply of fresh water and processing of waste water. The pressures within the water distribution network needs to be controlled and regulated for safety and security of supply purposes. This results in approximately 5000 Pressure Reduction Valves being installed in Scotland’s water distribution and supply network alone. The necessary pressure reduction created by the PRVs results in an estimated at 8GWh/ year of potential hydro-kinetic energy being wasted. One of the challenges to overcome in order to realise this opportunity is the nervousness in the regulated business that developing and substituting hydro-kinetic turbines for PRVs can perform as well as, if not better, than the PRVs, in regulating water pressure. This specifically relates to regulation response times which could impact on downstream supply pressures to customers. This research will initially investigate the feasibility of adopting hydro-kinetic energy conversion to regulate network pressures. It will then investigate, develop and evaluate hydro-kinetic technology development as a PRV substitute to establish pressure regulation performance while recovering the lost energy in the form of electricity. The objective is to make a significant reduction to the associated annual operational CO2 emissions of 1,440 tCO2e, contributing towards Scottish Water’s ambitious 2040 and 2050 Net Zero target: while ensuring regulatory compliant reduction and regulation of pressure within the distribution and supply network for safety and security. This will result in the development of a finite range of hydro-kinetic turbines to recover the energy wasted while maintaining the spectrum of required pressure regulation and water flow rates in the network.

Work to be investigated includes:

- Characterisation of the rate of change of water pressure regulation required to be achieved, and variations in water flow rates. Network operational information and recorded data will be evaluated and where required; additional monitoring data will be collected during the initial phases of the project will be evaluated to establish this.

- Evaluate the configuration of a finite range of hydro-kinetic turbine system and the ability of these to meet the needs of network regulation and control requirements, when acting as a substitute for a Pressure Reduction Valve

- With this greater understanding and knowledge depth, identifying potential operational impacts and mitigation strategies associated with the use of hydro-kinetic turbines as a pressure reduction system.

- Give quantification to the energy recovery potential and electricity production in terms of power capacity and energy yields, with the latter being correlated to CO2 reduction levels.

- Extrapolate energy recovery potential to wider characteristics of network operations when rolled out across the Scottish Water network, to give greater confidence to CO2 reductions and contribution towards the progressive Net Zero targets and Scotland’s 2045 target.

A staged approach will be adopted in executing the research based on analytical resolution. Initial methods will adopt low resolution high geographical area data analysis. This will be sourced through the engagement with Scottish Water Horizons and accessing water supply data at different stages in the network, in terms of pressures and flow rates, to evaluate where energy recovery potential exists. Statistical analysis of the data will inform variation in energy yields to be expected over the time of day, season and year to identify locations of greater consistency of output. The outputs from this will identify geographically where and what energy recovery is available together with the energy quantities. The data and outputs from the statistical evaluation will be used to inform the design envelope of new, novel Hydro-kinetic technology to replace the function of existing PRV’s in the network. Against this envelope, turbine rotor design will be undertaken to attain a balance of maximum power extraction for a regulated pressure drop across the turbine to meet the range of pressure reductions necessary for safe operations of the networks.

Funding Notes

The Hydro Nation Scholars Programme is an open competition for PhD Scholars to undertake approved projects, hosted within Scottish Universities and Research Institutes. This project will be hosted by the University of Strathclyde. Full funding is available from the Scottish Government (to host institutions via the Scottish Funding Council). The funding available will be in line with the UKRI doctoral stipend levels and indicative fees. Applicants should have a first-class honours degree in a relevant subject or a 2.1 honours degree plus Masters (or equivalent). Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed on 26th or 27th January 2023

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