As a result of intensive mining, the terrain and surface in the Ruhr region have in some cases subsided to such an extent that large depressions have been created – the so-called polder areas. In these areas, some waters can no longer flow freely. The “deepened” areas must therefore be artificially drained on a permanent basis to prevent the water from rivers and lakes from backing up. These processes have a significant impact on the overall water balance in the region.
In a new project, the Post-Mining Research Center (FZN) of the Georg Agricola University of Applied Sciences (THGA) is therefore now investigating how water management in the Ruhr region can be made even more sustainable. Above all, farmers and the forests in the area could benefit from this. However, targeted environmental monitoring should also improve the way extreme events such as heavy rainfall or long periods of drought are dealt with. This is where the “MuSE” project (Multisensory Earth Observation for Sustainable Polder Management) comes in.
“MuSE” is funded by the RAG Foundation until 2024. Bärbel Bergerhoff-Wodopia, member of the board of the RAG Foundation, emphasizes: “As the RAG Foundation, we see it as our responsibility to find solutions to the challenges that mining has left us. With this in mind, we work closely with the THGA and the Post-Mining Research Center and support the “MuSE” project with great conviction.”
“Where the terrain has subsided as a result of coal mining, i.e. large ground subsidence has occurred, the soil moisture has also changed. This naturally affects the use of land and resources in agriculture, forestry and water management as a whole. Especially because of climate change, there are far-reaching consequences. The Ruhr region needs more water to absorb the consequences of climate change in the long term – even if the impressions of the last few weeks actually convey a different picture.”
– Prof. Dr. Tobias Rudolph of FZN
This raises the question for Prof. Rudolph and his team of a modified management of the polder water supply – in other words, “What can we do to make better use of this water? And how can we optimize irrigation scheduling overall?” In the new “MuSE” research project, experts at the research center are investigating how such an efficient and sustainable reorientation of polder management could be designed. For example, higher groundwater levels and an economical and technical use of the elevated groundwater and surface water could lead to minimizing drought damage in agriculture and forestry. At the same time, targeted monitoring can help to better adapt polder areas to heavy rainfall and flooding.
To this end, the experts not only evaluate the available historical data, but also use modern satellite data and conduct their own measurements in selected test areas: “We use various sensors to determine soil moisture. At the same time, we evaluate tide gauge data and explore the vegetation with our drones. In the process, we also look at how the health of the plants is doing. We combine the on-site information with remote sensing data provided by the European satellite program Copernicus and evaluate it for this question for the first time,” explains Dr. Xiaoxuan Yin, a specialist in radar interferometry and remote sensing who has joined the center for the project.
Then it gets extra tricky again: “We fuse the many different pieces of information in a so-called 4D model with the factor ‘time’ as a fourth dimension,” the 32-year-old explains. This allows scientists to track the changes in the water balance over the decades and model them digitally. “At best, we can make recommendations for long-term land and resource use and help improve environmental conditions in agriculture, forestry and water management.”
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.”
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.
WPL wastewater technology is selected by major logistics hub
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