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Water To Become Smart: Milan Uses AI for Treatment Facilities

31 January 2020 14:25, UTC
Water To Become Smart: Milan Uses AI for Treatment Facilities
By Vsevolod Gnetii

Milan has developed a strategic plan to prevent bacteria and other pollutants from getting in the water. In an interview with the Italian press, Andrea LANUZZA, Technical Director of Gruppo CAP, spoke about the innovative technologies used by the company for the treatment of contaminated water:

“We installed sensors that take readings from 80% of the total volume of treated water, which corresponds to 283 million cubic meters of downstream water. Thus, we manage to find out in real-time data on the quantity and quality of circulating water. We simply took this data and converted it into “smart”, both for staff who can read this data from their smartphones, and for the laboratory analysis department, which is engaged in improving water purification.”

Gruppo CAP is a state-owned enterprise which applies technology 4.0 to control water quality at 40 treatment facilities serving consumers in Milan. Information apps are equipped with a system of smart optimization of water treatment processes. The system used by the Amazon was taken as the basis: all incoming data is redirected to personnel or equipment.

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The AI system informs the operator about excessive energy consumption or about the excessive content of nitrate, phosphorus or nitrogen (chemicals that are subject to strict regulation under applicable law) at one of 40 water treatment plants. The system registers big data, interacting with all water treatment facilities managed by Gruppo CAP. The first results are very impressive: a pilot project launched at a water treatment plant in Cassano d’Adda presented a 30% reduction in energy consumption for water treatment while complying with all standards and indicators of protecting the environment from pollution.

Gruppo CAP, serving 2.2 million consumers, has launched a new stage of water treatment 4.0. The new pilot project is based on the cooperation agreement between Gruppo CAP and Israeli startup Kando. The project aims to control industrial discharges, which could potentially create problems for treatment facilities.

Technical staff are currently conducting on-site inspections to determine the discharge points of liquid industrial waste to establish sensors. Installation of the equipment will take 2-3 months and upon completion of the installation process will allow personnel to conduct continuous monitoring of the sewer system.

The ultimate goal of the project is the most possible reuse of treated water. The Sustainable Development Plan is aimed at this goal and Gruppo CAP is one of the signatories. The predetermined parameter of the plan is the achievement of the indicator of 6 million cubic meters of purified water by 15 years. The current indicator is 750 thousand cubic meters. The project aims to replace the use of fresh drinking water with purified water for non-domestic needs: for street irrigation, industrial use and agricultural irrigation.

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Another important aspect of the sustainability of Gruppo CAP is the use of technology with the least possible environmental impact during the treatment of waste sludge. Ther company is a leader in Europe in this area — this milestone has been achieved due to cooperation with the innovative startup Bioforcetech Corporation which specializes in on-site waste processing.

Wastewater treatment plants in Robecco sul Naviglio, the satellite city of Milan, will be the first in Europe to install a bio-drying (mechanical biological treatment) module, developed in conjunction with California-based Bioforcetech Corporation and a team of Italian engineers. The cost of investment in the project is 500 thousand euros.

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