Powering a “Smart Grid” for Water
According to the nonprofit organization Imagine H2O, the struggle for clean water is the challenge of our time. More than a billion people worldwide lack access to clean water, they point out, and even in the United States, pollution, scarcity, and a crumbling system of pipes and plants threaten the water supply. They warn us that availability of clean water and sanitation will be the dominant issue of the coming decades, touching everything from human health, to biodiversity, to economics.
So, now that we know what some water-related problems are, where can we look for some water-related solutions? Interestingly, in a place where there hardly is any water: Israel.
Sixty percent of Israel is desert, and the remaining 40 percent is semi-arid land. So, it’s not surprising that an Israeli clean technology company called HydroSpin has made water its bailiwick.
Specifically, HydroSpin is interested in “Smart Water” technologies: those devices that monitor the movement of water and the quality of water as it travels through a network of distribution pipes.
Powering those Smart Water technologies so that they can record and transmit data has historically been a bit of a challenge: How do you power a device that’s stuffed inside a pipe? Especially if it’s a pipe in the middle of nowhere, like the desert?
Here, HydroSpin has made a clever innovation: the company has developed a unique generator that produces micro-energy from the flow of water inside distribution pipes. The HydroSpin generator creates enough power to support low-energy devices throughout the water network, such as sensors, probes and transmission devices.
As a result, the deployment of sensors and measuring devices is no longer limited to locations that have accessibility to electricity: monitoring devices can be positioned anywhere on the water network.
Additionally, data received from monitoring needn’t be limited by the amount of energy available through batteries. Data can be transmitted continuously, giving customers visibility into their network and sensors 24/7.
This type of visibility is a key requirement for developing a “smart grid” that identifies leaks, conserves resources, and otherwise guides water flow more intelligently.
Taking a clever idea and making it a reality—as HydroSpin has done—is at the heart of entrepreneurship, which is why Imagine H20 holds an annual Water Entrepreneurs Showcase highlighting the most promising early-stage water innovations.
This year, the showcase and awards ceremony is being hosted at the Autodesk Gallery at in San Francisco. The event will provide an opportunity to raise a glass—water or otherwise—to some innovative companies that are helping to tackle one of the biggest sustainability challenges of our time. To register for the event and learn more visit Imagine H2O.
Article by Susan Gladwin who leads the Autodesk Clean Tech Partner Program, which provides emerging clean tech companies powerful software and opportunities to help them develop solutions that address our most pressing environmental issues. In North America, Europe, Japan and Singapore, the Autodesk Clean Tech Partner Program offers $150,000 of Autodesk software for $50 to qualified clean tech innovators.
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