Game of Drones in Barcelona

Nov. 28, 2017
Spanish firm FCC is pioneering a drone project to speed up, facilitate and improve the inspection of Barcelona’s 1,500 km sewerage system.

Spanish firm FCC is pioneering a drone project to speed up, facilitate and improve the inspection of Barcelona’s 1,500 km sewerage system.

The Aerial Robot for Sewer Inspection (ARSI) is equipped with multiple sensors to monitor water and air quality, including a 3D camera to calculate its position and a 2D laser to detect walls and calculate flight paths in real time.

Still in the prototype stage, the project is being developed in conjunction with Eurecat, in a consortium with other companies within the framework of the European Echord++ (European Coordination Hub for Open Robotics Development).

FCC believes that using a drone can improve productivity, as it allows for the completion of inspection tasks along the entire length of a sewer more quickly than a person can inpect while walking.

Pepa Sedó, director of the Eurecat Robotics Unit, said: “This is the first time that the profitability of the use of drones in an activity such as the inspection of the sewage system has been analysed…the great flexibility and manoeuvring capability of drones makes them ideal vehicles for subsoil inspection.”

Raúl Hernández, head of FCC Environment’s technical department in Barcelona, added: “These networks are difficult spaces to work in because they are relatively small and narrow, although they vary in size. The floors and surfaces are slippery, there’s no lighting at all, and sometimes there are even problems with gases.”

FCC’s Environment division has been maintaining Barcelona’s sewerage networks since 1911.

Membranes now dominate 95 percent of the global desalination market

As filtration technology improves, membranes continue to dominate the global desalination market over thermal alternatives.

In 2017, membrane technology accounted for 2.2 million cubic meters per day (95.6 percent) of annual contracted capacity while thermal processes accounted for just 0.1 million m3/day (4.4 percent) during the same period.

Overall, the global desalination market continues to grow, marking the fourth year of continued growth following a slowdown in the mid-2000, according to data from the International Desalination Association and GWI.

Between mid-2017 and mid-2016, cumulative global contracted capacity increased by 14 percent. Furthermore, the total number of desalination plants worldwide across all categories stands at 19,372 (2017) versus 18,983 (2016).

According to the IDA, seawater desalination experienced its largest increase since 2014, driven largely by growth in the utility market in the Gulf. However, significant awards for seawater desalination plants were also made in China, Singapore and Morocco during the past year.

Desalination of brackish water is also growing, with an increase of 29 percent in contracted capacity for the first half of 2017. The typical brackish water desalination plant is for smaller utilities and industrial users. China accounted for a large portion of growth in these plants during the second half of 2016.

Large-scale projects around the Red Sea and Gulf account for much of the current recovery in the desalination market. However, the nature of these projects means that this region experiences highly variable swings in contracted capacity. Both utility and industrial projects saw double-digit increase in capacity for the full year of 2016, driven by awards for industrial users in the latter part of the year.

A closer look at the industrial sector reveals many interesting developments in the upstream oil and gas industry including several projects that may point to the future shape of the market in the offshore oil industry.

Dr David Lloyd Owen, MD of consultancy Envisager, told WWi: “Membranes have more or less taken over. The reservations about reliability and treated water quality seen at the start of the century have been overcome as the pre and post membrane treatment processes have been refined.”


German engineering company Bauer Nimr will expand its constructed wetland for oil and gas company Petroleum Development Oman to a total capacity of 175,000 m3/day.

Green Valley Oil Services has awarded Dutch engineering company Nijhuis Industries an order to deliver a 60,000 m3/day turnkey wastewater treatment plant for the South Port Said Industrial Zone in Port Said, Egypt.

LANXESS has signed a distribution agreement for its Lewabrane membrane elements with Riyadh-based Saudi company Industrial and Chemicals Supplies Co. (ICSCO). headquartered in Jeddah.

Diane d’Arras from SUEZ has been re-elected as the president of the International Water Association (IWA) following a unanimous vote from the body’s governing assembly in Prague.

A consortium of Aqualia, FCC Construcción and Suez has been selected to modernise and enlarge the Glina (Bucharest, Rumania) wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) for a total value of €113 million.

The Tunisian national sanitation office has awarded Veolia subsidiary OTV to design and construct a wastewater treatment plant for the Monastir Technopole and textile polishing park.

Singapore company De.mem has raised AUS$2.5 million after placing 9.4 million shares. The company originally set out to raise $2 million.

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