Pollution of water wells caused by iron bacteria can block filters, which leads to the quantity of water decreasing until it stops the pump. The different methods used to solve this problem are expensive and they do not return the system to the initial pumping efficiency. Operators often allow pollution to develop and only carry out remedial action when the pump-station is not able to meet users demand. Therefore economically and environmentally it is important that preventive maintenance of water wells be developed.
This project planned to introduce the EMP process (Electric-Magnetic-Pasteurizing) as a preventive treatment process for well pollution caused by iron-bacteria. The EMP-Process consists of heating in a selective way the well filter and its immediate proximity by the use of an induction process. A temperature of 70 C (kept for a few seconds), is able to kill the iron-bacteria which are present on the well filter. Among all the processes used to fight iron-bacteria, heat is certainly the most efficient and the most environmentally friendly.
A market study showed that water well operators are interested in seeing this process developed further, so long as there is a reduction in the exploitation costs. The low cost of applying this process (in comparison with the cost of chlorination) shows that the market is limited by the supply and not by the demand. The market for this equipment for underground water sources in Europe is potentially several hundred units per a year. The market potential for export (USA, CANADA) is also promising.
The project was successful as it appeared to have solved a significant problem for the EU mineral water industry, as well as having a wider application in other countries including the third world. The team involved a multi -disciplinary mixture of engineers, environmental and microbial specialists and well management specialists and water companies. New knowledge about the functioning of microbial organisms in underground aquafers was developed, but the main output was the development of an environmentally sound method for killing microbes without introducing chemical, nuclear or blasting techniques. The project team have developed a new organisation and an exploitation plan for the product and have already received expressions of interest in commercial exploitation from two firms.