Impact Hub Manila Fellowship

Hydro+ Optima: Integrated Water and Energy Conservation System

The problem that we are trying to solve is the vicious cycle of water and energy waste in water distribution network due to leaks.

 

Leaks in a water distribution network, whether minor (e. g. can fill a water bucket in a day) or major (e. g. can fill a water tanker in a day) are inevitable primarily due to the wear-and-tear of the connections of the network (e. g. pipe connections, service connections etc.).

 

However, what most operators of water distribution facilities (e. g. local water districts, subdivisions etc.)  overlooked is that the primary cause of this wear-and-tear process in the network and, consequently, the emergence of new leaks and aggravation of existing ones, is excessive water pressure.

 

Excessive water pressure in a water distribution network emanates from uneven water pressure distribution in the network due to 1) differences in elevation throughout the pipe network (pressure in lower elevation areas of the network tends to be higher/excessive compared to that in higher elevation sections) and 2) differences in water demand throughout the day (i. e. pressure during demand off-peak hours tends to be higher/excessive compared to that during demand peak hours).

 

Recurrence of excessive water pressure applies unnecessary fatigue stress to the pipe network until, eventually, leaks at the connections occur. The amount of water loss at leaks is also proportional to water pressure. Thus, high/excessive pressure at leak locations translates to larger amount of water loss. To compensate for water loss, operators usually opt to increase water production, thus unnecessarily increasing water consumption.

 

On the other hand, for medium to large leaks, water energy (i. e. pressure) is also lost due to pressure head loss. This may lead to inadequate water pressure in some areas of the network (i. e. water might not be delivered to some customers). To compensate for pressure loss, operators opt to construct and operate pump stations or adjust operations of existing pump station to provide additional pressure, thus unnecessarily increasing energy consumption.

 

Although additional pressure to compensate for the pressure loss might trigger development of excessive pressure in other areas of the network, which in turn may cause emergence of leaks and, consequently, water and pressure loss, in the said areas.

 

 

Thus, the vicious cycle continues.

Who faces this problem?

Currently, there are approximately 74 local water districts in the Philippines who are currently operating water distribution facilities and might be facing the same problem. This number does not include the hundreds of subdivisions that operate similar facilities as well.

 

 

The usual approach of local water districts to resolve the water and pressure loss problem, aside from water production and operation adjustments, is more on corrective action: they locate the leaks and repair them. However this corrective approach prove to be inefficiency in the long run primarily because, while excessive water pressure in the network persists and recurs, leaks will also recur and so thus repair activities. These will take its toll on operational cost of the facility as well as on customer service level (i. e. most repair activities require water service interruptions).

How does your idea address this problem?

Our company’s (Hydro+) approach to resolve the problem is more on preventive action, particularly water pressure management. It involves monitoring, analyzing, and controlling water pressure in a water distribution network so that it is maintained at optimum level (relatively high pressure during peak hours to cater water demand and relatively low pressure during off-peak hours to mitigate water loss at leaks). Our company integrated these aspects of pressure management into our system.

And that system we called Optima.

Optima consists of four major cores: data gathering, monitoring, analysis, and control.

Data gathering core involves gathering time-series pressure and flow all over the water distribution network by deploying measuring equipment (pressure data loggers, flow meters etc.) specifically designed to transmit data remotely to Optima for monitoring and further analysis.

Monitoring core involves the front-end of the Optima proprietary software enabling our client to view and monitor the pressure and flow in the network based from the gathered data.

Analysis core (i. e. dubbed Optima Optimum Water Pressure Analysis System) involves the back-end of the Optima proprietary software automatically implementing periodic hydraulic analysis of the water distribution system based on the data gathered and projected water demand to determine the optimum pressure settings all over the network.

Control core involves automatically implementing of the optimum pressure setting all over the network, as determined in the Analysis core, through the use of Pressure Regulating Valves (PRV) and PRV controllers specifically designed to be setup remotely through Optima.

 

With effective water pressure management, development of excessive water pressure will be prevented, emergence and aggravation of water leaks will be minimized, and the vicious cycle of water and energy waste will be ended.

What’s new and unique about your idea?

Various water pressure management technologies (e. g. equipment, software systems) have been available for more than a decade now. However, since most of these technologies are developed and manufactured in other countries, they have to be imported. Also, deployment and operation of these technologies will require training sessions with foreign consultants and maintenance of dedicated operation teams (e. g. equipment operators etc.) to ensure locale applicability. Simply put, employing these technologies will require considerable capital investment and additional operational expenditure, which is a primary pain point for local water districts since most of them have limited financial capacity for such ventures.

Also, based on the teams’ experience with providers these technologies, client support usually extends to the operation and troubleshooting of the acquired equipment and/or software only and not to actually managing water pressure in the client’s water distribution network itself . Thus, the client, whose experience with water pressure management might be limited, is left to its own devices to implement the system.

To address these pain points of Optima target clients, the team is developing Optima with the following considerations:

1.     Optima equipment will be developed and manufactured locally, using, as much as possible, locally-available components. This will ensure that the equipment will be priced competitively such that it will be affordable for our target clients.

2.     Optima software system will be developed locally and by local talents (e. g. programmers) to ensure that the operation of the system can be easily communicated to the client and any improvements in the system can be easily accommodated (i. e. ensuring immediate locale applicability)

3.     Optima software system will synergize with Optima equipment such that enable the client to remotely monitor and control pressure in the water distribution network. This, consequently, will enable the client to implement the system without major changes in operations in terms of organization and procedures.

4.     Optima software system will include and automated analysis core (i. e. periodic hydraulic analysis), which will be the client’s definitive guide for optimum pressure setting all over its network

 

Aside from these, the team will also work closely with its client to resolve their other pain points as well as thoroughly guide them through the water pressure management processes.

How are you going to earn money?

Our company do not want to just sell our product and services; we want to be partners with our clients and engage them to effectively and efficiently conserve water as well as energy in their facilities. Thus, to show our commitment to this endeavor, we adopted the shared savings model, wherein we derive our income from a percentage of the monetary value of our clients’ water and energy saving by employing the system for a certain period.

Do you already have customers?

The team already had discussions with Balibago Waterworks System, Inc. regarding prototype version testing as well as production version operation of the Optima in one of their facilities in Talisay, Batangas. They responded positively, particularly due to their perceived benefits of the system in terms of operational efficiency, and are willing to cooperate with team in setting up the system provided we present a clear and concise terms of reference for the said project.

Who is in your team?

Engr. Gil Landingin III - He is the Chief Executive Officer and one of the consultants on the development of Optima pressure control equipment (e. g. PRV controller). He has 6 years of experience in operating and maintaining PRV’s and their accessories.


Engr. Marcelo Santillan - He is the Chief Production Officer and the primary consultant on the development of Optima pressure control equipment (e. g. PRV controller). Same as Gil, he also has 6 years of experience in operating and maintaining PRV’s and their accessories.


Engr. Aubrey Servanez - She is the Chief Marketing Officer and one of the consultants on hydraulic analysis and pressure management in water distribution systems. She has 4 years of experience in pressure management and network hydraulic modelling of water distribution systems ranging from District Metered Areas (DMA) to Hydraulic Systems (HS).


Engr. Jonathan Diaz - He is the Chief Technology Officer and is hands-on the development and assembly of all of Optima proprietary equipment. He has 4 years of experience in project development and embedded systems development.


Engr. Joseph de Guzman - He is the primary consultant of the team on hydraulic analysis and pressure management in water distribution system and on the development of the company’s Optima Optimum Water Pressure Analysis System. He has 4 years of experience in hydraulic analysis, pressure management, and data analytics.

Have you already founded/incorporated your company?

Yes

What is the intended positive impact on the environment and/or society of your venture?

With the looming energy crisis brought about by exhaustion of non-renewable energy as well as water crisis brought about by the El Nino phenomenon in the Philippines, we envision that with all the water distribution networks in the country optimized by Optima, we will be able to contribute to the country’s collective efforts to conserve water (by minimizing water loss at leaks) and energy (by minimizing additional pump energy due to pressure loss at leaks).

How will the Fellowship Program enable you to achieve your ambitions?

For the equipment, the team would need funding, particularly for the acquisition of the components, the manufacturing of the prototype and production versions of the said equipment, and installation for prototype testing.


For the software system, aside from funding, the team would need support from software development experts.


 


With the said support provided, we project the whole Optima system to be commercially ready for 3rd quarter next year (i. e. 2017).

Are you living in the Philippines?

Yes

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