Research

Research and development activities are carried out by the Group operating companies, in the various business areas. In fact, initiatives aimed at experimenting and implementing technological innovation are furthered, often in synergy with research bodies and scientific-academic institutions (also see Socio-economic relationships with the stakeholders, Institutions and the Company). Some of the main projects being developed are indicated below.

  • Aquaser:
    • Project for the creation in the city of Mexico of a composting pilot plant using innovative technology. For details, see the box in the section on Management of treatment sludge.
  • Acea Produzione:
    • study into the type of conditioning of the carrier fluid of the district heating network in Rome for the prevention of corrosion in the pipes and the prevention of potential losses of liquid into the ground.
    • construction of a district cooling pilot plant for a residential building located in the Rome district of Mezzocammino.
  • Acea Distribuzione:
    • the Smart-network Management System project: technological evolution in the management of the electricity distribution network with the aim of improving the handling of the medium and low voltage electricity distribution networks for the city of Rome.
    • the “Smart Grid” pilot project, for the development of innovative solutions for the integration of the generation distributed and the improvement of the service continuity. The project will be completed in the first half of 2013;
    • ORBT project -Low Voltage Network Optimisation – for the development of a dedicated application capable of carrying out in-depth analysis into the LV network, identifying critical areas in relation to primary restrictions, assessing an optimised network set up by means of specific algorithms so as to reduce electricity losses, due to the joules effect. The first stage of the project was achieved in 2012;
    • the DigSilent PowerFactory project was launched in 2011 for the optimisation of the running of the Medium Voltage networks for the purpose of: reducing the losses of electricity as a result of the joules effect, improving the voltage profiles on electricity lines and maximising the overall reliability of the system, by means of an application on the dedicated calculation software. The first stage of the project was concluded by means of achieving these objectives. In 2012, a second implementation stage of the application was launched for the definition of automatic calculation procedures functional for permitting the consolidation of the objectives already achieved also in the presence of the Distributed Generation connected to the network.  These activities will also continue in 2013.
  • Acea Ato 2
    • in collaboration with LaboratoRI: activities for the study of the distribution networks and loss detection on the basis of the “division into districts” approach envisaged by Italian Ministerial Decree No. 99/97, which was mainly carried out in the municipalities of Monterotondo, Riano, Fiano Romano, Cerveteri, Subiaco, Formello, Mentana and Velletri.
    • in collaboration with LaboratoRI: experimentation of systems for the on-going and on-line monitoring of fluorides and arsenic, sector-related microbiological analysis with the collaboration of the I.S.S. Study of treatment systems for the removal of natural pollutants, such as arsenic.
  • Umbra Acque:
    • Life Palm Project (Pump and leakage management), whose purpose is to create an instrument which makes it possible to achieve and maintain the “minimum” loss objectives, at the same time optimising the pumping system to limit the energy and operating costs. The conclusion of the project phase relating to loss detection permitted a recovery of around 13 l/s;
    • studies and trial relating to the AERE Project (increase the energy efficiency in the waste water treatment plants), developed in collaboration with the Ricerca di Ingegneria Sanitaria Ambientale Unit at Florence University and other Italian companies of primary importance in the management of Integrated Water Systems, with the conclusion of the second analytical control campaign on the functioning of the oxidative system of the Ponte Valleceppi treatment plant (90,000 equivalent inhabitants).
  • Acquedotto del Fiora:
    • loss detection campaigns continued with recoveries of the water resource in the Municipalities of Follonica and Piancastagnaio where savings for around 0.45 Mm3 in network introduction were reported. Projects are currently being studied to resolve anomalies on the energy consumption of the plants which have a heavy use of power under management in certain municipalities: Piancastagnaio, Santa Fiora, Orbetello, Castiglione della Pescaia and Grosseto.
  • LaboratoRI:
    • environmental monitoring for Solemme (Aquaser Group);
    • functional checking of drinking water treatment plants for Acea Ato 5;
    • studies into the instability of the water and rainfall phenomenon in the Tufano – Acea Ato 2 water system;
    • Development of methods for the assessment of the eco-toxicity features of the waste - slag and experimental application of the method on samples of ash and slag.

As has occurred for several years now, numerous research activities in the environmental water sphere are carried out jointly by LaboratoRI and Acea Ato 2 (see tables No. 97-100).

Table No. 97- MAIN RESEARCH ACTIVITIES ON DRINKING WATER QUALITY AND SOURCES

Project title (year) Description
Protection areas (2012) Technical proposals were drafted for the protection areas of the well fields of Pescarella and Laurentino. Numeric simulations were carried out for Doganella preparatory to the emission of the protection areas.
Removal of contaminants from water intended for human consumption (2010-2012) Activities continued for the definition of suitable treatment processes for the removal of contaminants (arsenic, vanadium, fluorides and manganese) so as to align the quality of certain water collected in key areas with the standards envisaged by Italian Legislative Decree No. 31/2001.
Experimentation on new filtering materials columns (2012)   Pilot experimentation was carried out on filtering columns to test a new filtering material for the removal of arsenic from drinking water. The new materials made up of iron hydroxides and lanthanum oxides has been subject to comparative test with the material which is used most commonly in the area managed by Acea Ato 2, for the purpose of checking the specific absorption capacity under various operating conditions.
Development of an on-going monitoring prototype for recording the mineralisation parameters of water intended for human consumption (2009-2012) Validation of the prototype systems for on-going monitoring, validation and display of certain mineralisation parameters of the water distributed for drinking use in the city of Rome in 2011, was concluded; in 2012, the model for the transmission and display of data by means of display panels was defined.
Experimentation of on-going fluoride and arsenic monitoring systems on drinking water plants (2010-2012) Validation of an on-line system for establishing the concentration of fluorides and arsenic. The possibility of implementing a network for the validation and remote display of the concentrations of the two natural pollutants exiting the drinking water treatment plants is envisaged.
Optimisation, checks on the functioning of the drinking water treatment processes in the plants of the South, West and North catchment areas of ATO 2 (2011-2012) Activities for the functional checking of the drinking water treatment plants, aimed at checking the performances of the various treatment stages and optimisation of the processes. During 2012, these activities were carried out in 19 plants already installed in the last few years, following test and inspection.

Table No. 98 - MAIN RESEARCH ACTIVITIES ON TREATMENT PLANTS

Project title (year) Description
Application of CLARIUS software for the management of the waste water treatment plants (2009-2012) The project envisages the application of the Clarius software as an instrument for a systematic and systemic gathering and handling of data on the treatment plants In the period 2009-2011, it was applied to the large Rome plants; during 2012, activities were carried out for the implementation for the small and medium-sized plants of Acea Ato 2.
Monitoring of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) at the waste water treatment plants (Rome South, East, North, Ostia, Co.BI.S.) (2007-2012) The study into the spatial and temporal distribution of the odorous impacts in the areas within and outside the main treatment plants continued. Once again during 2012, ordinary, extraordinary and night-time monitoring campaigns were carried out, based on the research for hydrogen sulphide (air quality odour indicator).
Safety Project: chemical and biological monitoring of gaseous substances in waste treatment plants (Rome South, East, North, Ostia, CoBIS and 15 minor plants) (2007-2012) During 2012, the project envisaged the updating of the biological and chemical DVR (risk assessment documents) for the large treatment plants and for 15 minor plants (5 of these vary each year). The review of the documents was implemented by means of monitoring campaigns aimed at determining the concentrations and the loads of certain chemical and microbiological agents.
Smells: valuation of preliminary experimentation by means of on-going monitoring using the “electronic nose” (2012) In relation to the evolution of current regional, national and international legislation which disciplines olfactory impacts, a preliminary valuation was carried out on the technical - functional features of the “electronic noses” present on the market in view of their possible use in the areas affected by the company’s treatment plants.

Table No. 99 - MAIN RESEARCH ACTIVITIES ON CATCHMENT AREAS

Project title (year) Description
Updating of aqueduct models (2012) The aqueduct water balances, also used for out-of-service simulations and drawn up using numeric models, have been updated by introducing the works (by-passes, new line reservoirs, pressure control valves, and other) introduced in the last decade together with the new branches with the measures carried out on Simbrivio, the Peschiera Destro, Acqua Marcia – VIII Sifone – Mola Cavona, etc. therefore updating them to the current plant engineering situation.
Support for Water Availability Supervision (2009-2012) The project, launched in 2009, developed the formulations and proposed the contents and the format for a periodic report which, via the weather monitoring network, estimates the refilling of the aquifers for the area subtended by the collection and treatment plants. This project also includes the periodic (monthly) flow measurements carried out on the Peschiera and Capore springs.
Peschiera Springs: hydrogeological study for a long by-pass (2011-2012) The study, launched in 2011, by means of the examination of specific scenarios also created using numeric models, demonstrated in 2012 the possibility of creating an initial stretch of aqueduct which interconnects with the existing stretch within the 10km of distance from the springs using the water not collected.
Activities for the organisation of the water supply of the North catchment area (2012); West catchment area (2011-2012) The supply sources have been investigated in relation to the networks for reconstructing the user catchment areas, assessing the main criticalities existing and drawing up a list of the types of measures by individual municipality in the catchment area with the related priorities.
Development calcium-carbon balance in the water of the Peschiera-Capore system (2012) During 2012, a study was carried out into the calcium-carbon balances in the water of the Peschiera-Capore system so as to analyse the instability features of the water in relation to the potential outside imbalances.
Rivers Tiber and Aniene: quality, on-line chemical physical monitoring network and ecotoxicology implementation status (2007-2012) Once again in 2012, the study continued into the temporal evolution of the quality features of the rivers Tiber and Aniene, via accurate samples taken for the purpose of annual classification pursuant to Italian Legislative Decree No. 152/06 and analysis of the chemical-physical, biological and hydraulic data produced by the on-going monitoring network, made up of 4 control units and a bio-monitoring system for the observation of the trend in the total toxicity index.

Table No. 100 - MAIN RESEARCH ACTIVITIES ON SEWERAGE NETWORKS AND TREATMENT SLUDGE

Project title (year) Description
Treatment sludge features: compatibility with energy recovery systems and analysis of the criticalities (2011-2012) An analytical study has been completed into the presence, removal and distribution of heavy metals in the sections of the non-industrial waste water treatment plants. The experimentation specifically assessed the accumulation of the metals in the sludge, so as to analyse the compatibility with the energy recovery systems.
Urban Drainage Model for the Rome North sewerage basin (2004-2012) Up-dating of the urban drainage model for the Rome North sewerage basin continued. The mathematical model is able to simulate the functioning of the system under various conditions and is useful for assessing: the response of the system in relation to significant historic rain fall and the frequency of the functioning of the flood drains with respect to historic series. Specifically, during 2012 analysis was carried out on scenarios representative of the most significant rain events during the year and a detailed study into a number of key points, along with quali-quantitative monitoring campaigns in dry and in rainy periods.
Inflow/Run-off model for the entire Sewerage Basin, Rome East, Rome South, CoBIS and Ostia (2005-2012) The aim of the project is to reconstruct the physical characteristics of the waste water and rain water drainage system, relating to the treatment plant basins in question, so as to create a mathematical model capable of simulating the functioning of the urban drainage system under various conditions. During 2012, work continued for each of the basins identified, involving the up-dating of the model, the collation and processing of data, and the definition of the sewer basins. In detail, scenarios representative of the most significant rain events during the year were analysed for the Rome South and CoBIS sewage catchment areas. The Model for the Ostia catchment area was launched in 2009; in 2012, surveys were carried out on the 17 sewage raising constructions.