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Combating water shortages, drought and forest fires with wind turbines

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News, Water & Waste Water

In many places, the natural water cycle no longer works: Prof. Dr. Clemens Jauch wants to get it moving again – with water-spewing rotor blades and a whole lot of wind.

Atmospheric irrigation with wind turbines – under this title, the wind professor developed the idea during his research semester of using the rotor blades of wind turbines to bring water into the atmosphere, where it is distributed by the wind in the form of water droplets or water vapor. “We are using a technical component that we already have, the rotor of wind turbines, and the wind, which is also already there,” Jauch explains.

Clemens Jauch wants to produce precipitation. The professor of wind energy technology has developed the concept for a system that brings water through the atmosphere to where it is needed as precipitation: to dried-up meadows, parched fields or dry forests. To do this, Jauch uses wind turbines – and wind. 

At the Institute for Wind Energy Technology (WETI) at Flensburg University of Applied Sciences, Clemens Jauch mainly researches and teaches about feeding wind power into the grid or the system inertia of wind turbines. But for some time now, the family man has been concerned about the increasing weather extremes as a result of climate change. He looks with concern again and again at the devastating forest fires in Australia, on the west coast of the United States or most recently in southern Europe, which are fueled by extreme drought and strong winds.

“Even in Germany it is now too dry. I want to support, strengthen the water cycle.”

– Prof. Dr. Clemens Jauch

Atmospheric irrigation with wind turbines – under this title, the wind professor developed the idea during his research semester to bring water into the atmosphere via the rotor blades of wind turbines, where it is distributed by the wind in the form of water droplets or water vapor. “We are using a technical component that we already have, the rotor of wind turbines, and the wind that is also already there,” Jauch explains. Preferably located at river mouths, water is pumped into the turbine’s rotor blades via a pump, where it is emitted into the air via nozzles. Jauch: “Given the current size of wind turbines, we have a water emission area as large as about one and a half soccer feathers,” Jauch calculates. The wind then takes over distributing the water through the atmosphere. It evaporates. Clouds form, and it rains.

Clemens Jauch sees many applications. Over wind turbines near the coast, onshore wind can distribute the water inland over long distances until it hits mountain ranges, for example, and rains down. “This can increase the amount of precipitation,” Jauch says. But the principle can help not only against droughts and impending desiccation. “You can also use it to build up melting glaciers in Norway, for example.” For Schleswig-Holstein, on the other hand, the professor initially sees the application over short distances or for local irrigation. This could be useful for agriculture and forestry or against the threat of forest fires.

Of course, a suitable location for the wind turbine is important. River mouths, for example, are optimal locations, he said. “We don’t take groundwater, but the turbine has to be located where water is available, for example at river mouths where fresh water is about to become undrinkable salt water,” Jauch explains. To ensure that the water then reaches the place where it is actually needed, the wind direction must of course also be right. Nevertheless, it should be noted that this type of water distribution is rather imprecise compared to conventional irrigation systems. But this is precisely the advantage of the technology: the water is made available to people, plants and animals in the affected areas without discrimination. Only in this way can the entire ecosystem and the groundwater benefit sustainably. In a somewhat more elaborate version, the system will also be able to be used for desalinating seawater in the future.

Clemens Jauch is convinced that his invention works. In many places around the globe. In their master’s theses, students will now look at various aspects such as the technical components for the nozzle system or the aerodynamics of the rotor blades before moving on to concrete research projects.

News Processing Technologies

Rapid further development of connectors

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The Connector Congress in Würzburg has come to an end with the participation of rolled products manufacturer Kemper.

“After more than a year of abstinence, finally the first presence event in the industry. A piece of normality that many have longed for all this time. We are all the more pleased to have had many interesting discussions and made new contacts.”

– Dr. Stephan Hansmann, Head of Technical Marketing

Miniaturization is one of the much-discussed megatrends, as a result of which more and more plug contacts are being realized in the smallest possible installation space. Accordingly, there was great interest at the Kemper booth in HP bronzes, which have improved formability compared to standard alloys without sacrificing strength. With this property, Kemper HP bronzes offer themselves as an optimal material for increasingly smaller connector systems. “Connectors in particular are developing rapidly and will actively accompany the energy transition,” Hansmann is certain. “This includes, for example, smart connectors with additional functions, where, for example, connectors communicate with each other even before the plugging process has taken place.”

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Great catch-up potential for eMobility in public transport

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Around a hundred thousand diesel buses are still on Europe’s roads with outdated technology. At the same time, the number of e-buses is rising significantly. It is hardly surprising that electromobility is on the rise. After all, the call for sustainable mobility is getting louder and louder. With the MAN Lion’s City 12 E and the all-electric 18 E articulated bus, MAN Truck & Bus offers the right solution for the urban transport of the future.

Electromobility is electrifying more and more people. This is clearly demonstrated by the rising registration figures for e-cars. But e-mobility is not only gaining momentum in private transport. In public transport, too, more and more operators are turning to e-vehicles, as recent figures from the umbrella organization of European vehicle manufacturers (ACEA) show. Based on bus registration figures, the association reported that sales of electric buses in the European Union increased by 18.4 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. The share of diesel engines, on the other hand, decreased by almost ten percent (source: “ACEA buses by fuel type full-year 2020,” 30 March 2021).

“Overall, the total European market for electric buses was more than 2,000 vehicles last year. And the trend is clearly upward. We expect half of all new city buses to be alternatively powered by 2025.”

– Rudi Kuchta, Head Business Unit Bus

Despite the rising eBus numbers, diesel buses are still by far the most common on EU roads. According to ACEA, there were a total of more than 690,000 buses in 2019, with an average age of 11.7 years – 94.5 percent of which were powered by diesel, and 0.6 percent purely electric (source: ACEA Report “Vehicles in use Europe,” January 2021). “The figures and our experience show that electromobility is on the rise. At the same time, they also make clear what great potential it still holds. Replacing diesel buses with outdated technology with modern electric buses will help enormously to reduce CO2 emissions,” says Kuchta, adding, “This is a key building block in tackling climate change.” After all, with an annual mileage of 50,000 to 60,000 kilometers and a consumption of 36 to 49 liters per 100 kilometers, which varies depending on use, topography and vehicle variant, an eBus traveling with zero local emissions can save around 60 to 80 tons of CO2 per year – compared to a diesel bus and assuming the current electricity mix.

The bus is already considered the most environmentally friendly and economical means of transport. However, local public transport operators and municipalities have it in their own hands to cut CO2 emissions even more and thus contribute to climate protection. The European Union has also recognized this and passed the Clean Vehicle Directive. This provides for binding emission standards in municipal fleets – the legislation has been in force since August 2021. Cities must thus set their course for emission-free mobility. The goal: to move from “low emission” to “no emission.”

“More and more public transport companies have understood this and are relying only on battery-powered city buses for new purchases. Or they are setting clear time targets for converting the entire fleet to zero-emission drives,” says Kuchta. One example is Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein (VHH), which has been procuring only locally emission-free, battery-powered buses since 2020. The goal is to convert the entire bus fleet to zero-emission drives as far as possible by 2030.

In order to provide transport companies with the best possible support on their way to zero-emission mobility, the company offers an overall concept that brings together holistic eMobility consulting and tailored, forward-looking solutions. Because for MAN, too, the future of urban mobility is electric. “We are convinced that electromobility is the key technology for commercial vehicle transport of the future. For this reason, we are constantly driving technologies and progress forward together with our customers,” says Rudi Kuchta. The focus here is on the MAN Lion’s City E – and thus the all-electric solution for public transport.

For months now, the MAN Lion’s City E has been demonstrating in more and more cities throughout Europe how excellently it masters urban traffic and how easily it can be integrated into existing processes. During an MAN eBus test drive that took place in Munich in May of this year, it also cracked the 550-kilometer mark under realistic everyday conditions with just one battery charge. “The issue of range plays an essential role for our customers.

After all, on lines that were previously served by a single vehicle with an internal combustion engine, only one electric vehicle will be on the road in the future. During the MAN Efficiency Run, our eBus impressively demonstrated how suitable electric mobility already is for everyday use,” says Kuchta. Even with a realistic range of “only” 400 kilometers in regular operation, the bus could cover 98 percent of the routes served by MAN customers without intermediate charging. And it would then be charged in the depot – with the advantage that operators would not have to invest in additional charging infrastructure in the city area.

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News Processing Technologies Water & Waste Water

WPL wastewater technology is selected by major logistics hub

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Technology from water recycling specialist WPL, a WCS Group company, was selected by DP World London Gateway to provide enhanced ammonia removal to protect sensitive waters in the Thames Estuary. 

DP World London Gateway is a smart logistics center on the north bank of the Thames in Thurrock, Essex, 25 miles from central London. The water recycling specialist will supply a bespoke treatment plant for a new freestanding warehouse for 150 office workers, currently under construction at the logistics center. The plant will be able to handle a flow of 7.5 m3/d for 100 population equivalents.

The treatment plant will discharge into an environmentally sensitive swale that empties into the Thames Estuary and must meet the Environment Agency’s stringent standards of 15:15:03 mg/l for ammonia and suspended solids.  The water specialist will provide an underground HiPAF (High Performance Aerated Filter) system for ammonia removal, as well as a metering unit and sand filter to further improve the final effluent in accordance with site-specific permit requirements. The design also includes a small pumping system due to the depth of the incoming effluent and a pumped backflow chamber.

Dominic Hamblin, WPL’s technical director, said, “DP London Gateway is a key logistics hub and we are pleased to be able to deliver this environmental solution on site on its behalf.

“WPL’s modular HiPAF product range meets the stringent European standards for permitting wastewater without the use of chemicals. The technology is regularly used by UK water utilities and is a good choice for sensitive sites such as marshes, which are shallow and not heavily diluted.

“The HiPAF’s compact design allows it to be installed in locations where space is at a premium, such as a busy commercial area. In addition, our sand filters are designed to remove excess suspended solids and biological oxygen demand when permit standards are above what would normally be expected from a biological process. 

“Once operational, the plant will provide robust wastewater treatment while being quiet, visually unobtrusive and easy to maintain. WPL’s wastewater treatment plant is being built by Readie Construction. Construction is scheduled to begin before the end of 2021 and is expected to take 12 weeks.

“DP World London Gateway is a high-profile site surrounded by sensitive water bodies. We are therefore pleased to be working with WPL to install on-site wastewater treatment for the new warehouse building.”  

– Giuseppe Orlando, Project Manager 

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