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Autonomous wireless sensors driven by harvested vibration energy for leak detection in water mains

Final Report Summary - ADVOCATE (Autonomous wireless sensors driven by harvested vibration energy for leak detection in water mains)

Executive Summary:
The SMEs in the Advocate consortium have come together to meet the greatest challenge to the European Water Industry – improving the cost-effective provision of clean water supply and sewage disposal services. These services are regulated by gate valves – isolation valves that determine the system flow. The project consortium developed smart gate valves which will be used in the detection and management of water leaks through employing autonomous wireless sensor nodes (WSNs) in an underground MESH network powered by a unique, piezo-film Vibration Energy Harvesting (VEH) system. Advocate valve systems could save the European Water Industry upwards of € 804 Mn per year. The amount of leaked water in Europe, per year, is estimated to cost society approximately € 80 billion. To reduce this huge cost to society, the Advocate consortium developed innovative gate valves on water and waste water pipes that will have the following innovative characteristics: Valves automatically monitor for leaks and a vibration energy system that generates enough power that these same valves could be used in a network of wireless sensors. These new innovative valves could then be sold to water and sewage utilities and municipal authorities. Our SME partners (ESCO, Herbertek, HMT, Xepto, Helnor) formed the ideal trans-national supply chain to deliver the gate valve hardware, sensor and telecoms packages and the necessary firmware and software. The technological challenges that consortium has overcome with the assistance of the RTOs are:

1) MESH network of smart water and waste water valves that can be remotely monitored and controlled;
2) Modified pressure sensors for detection of leaks;
3) The vibration energy harvesting and power management system that will power the smart gate vales.

The individual SMEs, European society and water user worldwide will benefit by:

- The increased detection and prevention of water leaks, using Advocate system, leading to € 800 million savings per annum;
- Municipalities and water utilities will be able to monitor the status of and manage their underground water and waste water assets (i.e. for firefighting, drinking water, wastewater disposal etc.);
- Reduced cost of water to society and how much consumer pays for water.

Project Context and Objectives:
In developing the original Advocate submission, consortium concentrated on the development of Gate Valve Open/Closed (GVOC) sensors and, although they proposed the development of a VEH system to power the sensors and telecoms modules, that was not the primary focus of the previous proposal. However, responding to the encouragement of the evaluators, consortium have further researched the VEH field and have come to realise that development of an autonomous, underground wireless sensor network (WSN) powered by VEH and capable of transmitting data about pipe and valve status to a central control room could potentially have wider impact(e.g. in oil and gas pipeline maintenance)- These additional applications offer a far greater commercial opportunity to SMEs than that presented in the original Advocate submission. This project solves five problems:

1. European Water and Wastewater Industry – prevention of clean water supply losses;
2. Municipalities’ water concerns – the need to manage water in relation to fire protection, disasters and environmental change threats;
3. Valve industry innovation – the need to differentiate ourselves through an innovative technologically superior gate valve, which allows European SMEs to grow and become more competitive through increasing sales to Europe and export markets;
4. Reduction of pipeline inspection and maintenance costs – the need to drive down costs of valve inspection and maintenance systems by developing modules that are autonomous in terms of their power management and data transmission protocols;
5. Cost Reduction through Pressure management of District Metered Areas (DMAs) – remote monitoring of GVOC (gate valve open/close) status and detecting system pressure, and using gate valves to detect and fix burst leaks.

Advocate project work package objectives have been:

WP1: The principal objectives of this WP were to:
- Design the test bed for the Advocate leak detection wireless sensor network (WSN);
- Design, build and test new AQUOSUS valves incorporating GVOC status sensors;
- Build and calibrate two ‘ADVOCATE leak detection WSN’ test beds – one each at the ADENEO and EII facilities.

WP2: To research, specify, build and test the sensors for detecting water pressure. Location and configuration of the sensor in-valve will be optimised with respect to turbulence in order to maximise VEH from valves and attached pipes. A further objective is to provide feedback data from these tasks to inform any necessary re-designs of the sensor system and/or valve housing.

WP3: The principal objectives of this WP3 were to research, specify, build and test the wireless communication system. A further objective was to provide feedback data from WP3 tasks to inform any necessary re-designs of the communication system.

WP4: The final specifications of the sensor and communications components of the defined in WPs 1-3 would determine the ultimate power demand of the integrated ‘Advocate leak detection WSN’. The principal objectives of this work package were to create the power system that could meet that demand. The technical objectives of this WP were therefore to research, specify, build and test the vibrational energy harvesting (VEH) and supercapacitor/rechargeable battery low power management (LPM) modules of the power system. A further objective was to provide feedback data from WP4 tasks to inform any necessary re-designs of the power system and/or valve housing.

WP5: The principal objectives of this WP were to:
- Specify the DMA to be monitored by the prototype ‘Advocate leak detection WSN’;
- Specify the number of nodes required for effective monitoring of the targeted DMA;
- Install the prototype sensors and wireless communication systems at WSN nodes;
- Test each functionality of the prototype in situ over a minimum six month period;
- Re-design the prototype as required.

WP6: The principal objectives of this WP were to:
- Ensure that all project results are formulated and compiled into a protectable form and all necessary patent applications are made;
- Assess market opportunities for the generated knowledge and technology;
- Create a Plan for the Use and Dissemination of the project results (PUD);
- Transfer specific knowledge from the RTD performers to the SME participants to enable them to rapidly apply and embed the technology into specific products;
- Broadcast the benefits of the developed technology and knowledge beyond the consortium to potential industrial user communities.

WP7: To oversee all technical and business-related demonstration activities, along with the management of all budgetary, communications (incl. website and interactions with the REA), legal, reporting and intellectual property issues.

Project scientific and technical objectives are listed as:

Scientific Objectives of the ADVOCATE project
• Determine the best location of the sensors for detecting water pressure inside valves which will optimise turbulence and, hence, VEH;
• Research the use of ZigBee for underground wireless data communication as part of a MESH network;
• Determine the optimal configuration of piezo-film for VEH from water and sewer pipes/valves;
• Research the use of cutting edge low power management technologies to create energy autonomous WSNs underground.

Technical objectives
Specify, design, build and test a GVOC status and pressure detection (ADVOCATE) system that can be adapted to as many EU water and sewer systems as possible – certainly for new installations but preferably for retro-fit also – with the following technical specifications:

• Pressure resistant to 16 Bar;
• Operational in 0-20 m/s water flow rate;
• Works at depths of 0.5-6m;
• Potentially submerged in water to 3m and ruggedized (salt, sewage and rat proof);
• Always on (unless deliberately switched off);
• Powered by piezo-film VEH system – capable of producing 10-50mW with ≥ 20 year life span preferred – so low power management system with range 0-60mW essential;
• Uses 802.15.4 / ZigBee wireless data transmission system capable of forming a MESH network with underground nodes at 10m-50m intervals for minimised error rates;
• Houses ZigBee to GPRS converters in manhole covers for data transmission to centralised or mobile controllers DMA/PMA controllers.

Project Results:
The main S & T results/foregrounds of the Advocate project have been:

1. GVOC system components: sensor, sensor housing and housing / comms module interfaces;
2. Pressure sensors design, components, housing and communication module interfaces;
3. ZigBee comms system including MESH networking algorithm;
4. Low Power Management System (LPM);
5. Piezo-film VEH system;
6. Method and design of manufacturing of valves with integrated.

The progress with developing sensors for the Advocate system has been sufficient – pressure sensor candidates were selected and electronics were built in first period. A novel type of GVOC sensor prototype has been already built and tested; second version of the prototype was built in first period. The consortium altered initial plan for testbed and as the result, three testbeds were set-up – special vibrating table for VEH testing, a smaller testbed in Tallinn for initial VEH tests and also prototype testing and finally large, real scale testbed built to Sundsvall, Sweden which helped to validate and demonstrate the project in the end in real operating environment. Regarding communications and electronics, three boards have been integrated:

1. AGESC - board from ADENEO
2. AGPRS - existing board from XEPTO
3. ASENS - sensor board from EII

A complete Advocate prototype system with six valves was installed to a test-bed at Sundsvall, Sweden. All of the sub-systems were tested separately before the installation and working together at the test-bed. The system is operational and readings from remote server can be read. Also, mechanical integration has successfully completed – a prototype valve (upper part) was machined to fit GVOC sensor and electronics. The bottom part was manufactured after the tests with pressure sensors. Provided signal analysis in the Sundsvall system was presented good possibility to detect leakages volume starting from 1 l/s. The signal pre-processing methodology was based on higher sampling rate which may not be optimal for wireless networking data acquisition cycle. The water pressure in pipe was not static and alters all the time. It was important to have simultaneous water pressure readings from all related points to get the best synchronised pressure measurements possible. Signal spectral analysis has identified frequency component with period of about 50 seconds. This could be caused by pump’s power cycle which holds pressure in pipeline. The magnet surrounding metal case of valve affected sensor response time. Magnet position change required 5 minutes of stabilizing period before next reading. Wedge has a several millimetres backlash gap when it goes from open to close position or vice versa. During initial valve’s screw rotation the linear sensor output magnitude remains the same. This brought unexpected linear sensor’s output magnitude response against valve’s impeller position. One magnet installed perpendicularly towards to sensor(s) provided good and almost linear characteristic on 0 to 10 mm distance. Regardless of the new linear sensor configuration the automated calibration of wedge position was needed. Calibrated data needed to be stored in external or CPU memory and invoked for compensation when needed.

Potential Impact:
The principal purpose of the Advocate system was to enable significant advances in the management of water losses through leakages, both from mains water supply and mains sewer systems. With this aim in mind, there are three potential areas of application for the Advocate project results:

1. Replacement of valves on an ad hoc basis when they fail or stretches of leaking pipe are to be replaced;
2. Replacement of valves during refurbishment programmes;
3. Integration of valves during new service installation programmes.

In effect, the Advocate system is targeted at the Water and Wastewater Asset Management market. In Western Europe this is a buoyant market with significant expansion expected over the coming years.

Additional market opportunities for the developed Advocate technologies

Piezo-film VEH technology – The Advocate project introduced this concept to both underground and overground pipe and valve energy harvesting – providing solid data in terms of what is achievable with piezo-film energy harvesters for development in other industrial applications whilst also enabling the next generation of pipe and valve sensors which will not only be powered by vibrations but will also use them to sense flow and turbulence directly. Driven by the need to develop new low-carbon, renewable energy sources, the VEH market is very rapidly growing and it was recently estimated that the piezoelectric energy harvesting market would reach $145 million in 2018.

VEH/WSN technology – In addition, the VEH/WSN technologies developed in this project for the W&WWS industry have the potential for application in a wide range of other industrial sectors including the gas and oil pipeline and processing sectors, and brewing food processing sectors – in fact in any sector in which cost-effective and reliable pipe and valve monitoring are crucial to maintaining the integrity of processes.
Like the market for VEH, the global market for energy-autonomous WSNs is set to grow very rapidly from 42.5 million units in 2012 to 375.2 million units in 2017, at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 54.6%. Driven by growth in the large building automation sector and the strong influence of the alternative energy industry, the fastest growing unit market will be the European region, which is expected to increase at a CAGR of 61.3% over the forecast period 38. A system with benefits that include minimal inspection and replacement charges coupled to low cost communications technologies should easily gain market share. It is our aim to license this technology and we provide estimates of potential sales and profits from this particular additional market below.

Today, water and sewerage pipe network assets are buried under almost every urban street in Europe, with a total length of around 5-10 million km and with connections to more than 100 million properties. In MITTSV’s operational area they have approx. 6700 valves in 1430 km of pipes i.e. approx. 5 valves/km. In Oslo valves occur every 100m on average so they have 10 valves/km. Taking the lower figure of 5 Mn km of pipe in Europe, and the lower figure of 5 valves/km, there are approx. 25 Mn gate valves in European water and wastewater networks.

Regarding dissemination, the consortium drew up an initial strategy as presented in deliverable "D6.1 Interim plan for use and dissemination". Dissemination activities were into 4 different phases. In the first phase, identification of the candidates for test installations took place. The next phase, which overlapped with phase 1, was to get media coverage. The third phase defined target markets for the product introduction phase, while the fourth phase was broader introduction to the target markets through participation at trade shows. To ensure that no confidential information is meanwhile released into the public sphere, all dissemination materials and events have been approved by all project partners prior to release. During the course of the project, the consortium partners have attended various seminars, workshops and conferences during the course of which they have introduced the Advocate project and results. In doing so, they added to the dissemination channels as it provided a link to other target audiences.

List of Websites:

Sepapaja 6
Ülemiste City Tallinn
11415 Estonia
+372 610 1230

Contact Person: Yenal Turan