For customers, access to drinking water is as simple as turning on a tap - but for the water suppliers, it is a fiendishly complex process.
The UK’s water systems are geographically dispersed networks made up of literally thousands of individual components.
Companies supply billions of litres of water, as well as manage the collection and treatment of waste.
It is no small wonder then, that revolutionary algorithms which can help make those processes more efficient, detect problems faster, and cut customer complaints, has attracted interest from around the globe.
Research by Professor Bogomil Ulanicki|, head of DMU’s Centre of Engineering Science and Advanced Systems (CESAS)| and the Water Software Systems group has underpinned major developments in this area.
It has enabled some of the largest UK water companies to save money and energy. Prof Ulanicki’s work has also had international impact by contributing to Epanet, the world’s leading free software for modelling water distribution systems. This has been used to design hundreds of rural and urban water supply schemes around the globe.
The quality and impact of this work has been recognised by leading funding bodies including the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the EU Esprit programme. Prof. Ulanicki was also part of a collaboration project between six universities, Neptune, which aimed to optimise the existing water supply infrastructure in the UK.
A key area of focus has been water leakage. The UK’s water industry loses 3.36 billion litres of water every day in leaks - enough to supply 22.4million people with water.
The method to control water pressure has led to fewer burst pipes and water leaks cut by a fifth, wherever it has been used.
It has been adopted as standard practice for burst detection by Affinity Water since 2010, helping to cut water losses and subsequent flooding as well as boosting customer satisfaction levels.
South Staffordshire Water and Scottish Water, which together serve more than three million customers, have also utilised Prof Ulanicki’s work to great effect.
By solving real-world problems and improving the energy management of major utility systems, Prof Ulanicki’s work has delivered a tangible benefit and is paving the way to a more sustainable future.