Dynamically Adaptive and Resilient Water Supply Networks for a Sustainable Future

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Civil & Environmental Engineering

Abstract

Through this Fellowship, I aim to develop fundamental scientific methods for the design, optimisation and control of next generation resilient water supply networks that dynamically adapt their connectivity (topology), hydraulic conditions and operational objectives. A dynamically adaptive water supply network can modify its state in response to changes in the operational conditions, performance objectives, an increase in demand and a failure. This is a new category of engineering (cyber-physical) systems that combine physical processes with computational control in a holistic way in order to achieve dynamic adaptability, resilience, efficiency and sustainability.
Water utilities are facing an increasing demand for potable water as a result of population growth and urbanisation. Cities are reaching unprecedented scale and complexity and the reliable provision of safe water is a global environmental security challenge. New technologies and knowledge are urgently needed to meet environmental, regulatory and financial pressures. Recent advances in sensor and control technologies, wireless communication and data management allow us to gain extraordinary insights into the operation of complex water supply networks and their control. Novel simulation and optimisation methods are required to make use of the new knowledge about the dynamics of large-scale water supply systems and the ability to control their operation in order to improve resource and asset utilisation.
In the course of pioneering and leading an extensive programme of applied research in dynamically adaptive water supply networks, I have identified fundamental mathematical and engineering challenges of how such complex systems should be designed, retrofitted, modelled and managed in order to address multiple operational applications either simultaneously or sequentially. For example, the network management can be optimised to reduce leakage, improve water quality and enhance incident response. Furthermore, developing a robustly scalable simulation and control system is extremely challenging due to the complexity of the computational tasks for medium to large-scale water supply systems. This research programme will investigate, develop and validate a novel analytical and robust computational framework for the concurrent design, operation and control of adaptive water supply networks that dynamically configure their connectivity (topology), hydraulic conditions and operational objectives. The proposed framework should simultaneously optimise the design (e.g. placements of advanced network controllers and monitoring devices) and the operational control (e.g. the optimal selection of functions and settings for the valves and pumps). This co-design approach also considers the hydraulic dynamics, uncertainties, environmental changes and the development of mathematical optimisation methods for network operability and controllability in order to manage the operation of complex water supply systems efficiently, intelligently and sustainably.
This is an ambitious and transformative research programme that requires solving numerous problems spanning several disciplines in water systems engineering, applied mathematics, control engineering, cyber-physical systems and sensors research. The Fellowship will provide me with a unique opportunity to dedicate most of my time to develop, validate and champion into practice the design and control methods for dynamically adaptive, resilient and sustainable water supply networks.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit from this research:
(i) Water utilities (UK and internationally).
(ii) The general public.
(iii) Technology companies.
(iv) All regulatory agencies who interact with the water industry: the Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) and the Environment Agency (EA).
(v) Urban infrastructure systems operators.

How will they benefit:
The water companies will use the developed robust modelling and advanced control solutions to provide unprecedented operational intelligence and system resilience through dynamic adaptability. The resulting knowledge and methods will be applied to: (a) increase the resilience and reliability of supply and respond to regulatory requirements; (b) reduce leakage and bursts; (c) significantly improve efficiency, resource utilisation, water quality and incident response, and consequently sustainability. In addition, this optimal management will extend the life cycle of network assets, reduce total expenditure costs (TOTEX) and save expenditure on new infrastructure. It will also enhance the ability of water utilities to respond to weather extremes such as the flooding in the UK in December 2015 that revealed the urgent need for adaptability and resilience of supply critical infrastructures.
The general public (water users) should benefit from the improved quality of service by the increased resilience, reliability and water quality in the supply of potable water. The improved efficiency and resource utilisation should keep bills at current level of affordability. Furthermore, the UK Government forecasts predict an ageing population. This could mean more customers for whom continuity and quality of water supply are becoming increasingly important for their health and well-being.
Technology companies: The control of dynamically adaptive water supply networks challenges conventional wisdom and may lead to transformative research and radical changes in the operation of water supply systems and the enabling sensing, modelling and control technologies. The smart water systems market is expected to grow from $7.3 billion in 2015 to $18.3 billion by 2020. Consequently, the UK water tech industry will be well equipped to lead the world in the design and control of this new generation of smarter water supply networks.
The Ofwat Chief Executive has recently called on the UK water companies to think creatively, innovate and be flexible, and also urging them to "think services, think systems; and really understand and manage risk." A task force was established as part of Ofwat's new strategy and following the introduction of a new primary duty on resilience. In December, 2015, Ofwat released a series of recommendations and activities related to the provision of resilient water and wastewater services that will be carried out over the next five years. Main questions: (a) what do water utilities need to consider in order to provide resilient water and wastewater services?; (b) what does Ofwat need to consider in order to best regulate the water and wastewater service providers, while having regard to its statutory duties and including its new duty on resilience? The proposed research will facilitate evidence-informed regulation based on technological and scientific advances when answering these questions.
Urban infrastructure operators: Leaks and bursts have a major impact on the deterioration and cascading failure of urban infrastructure. Urban roads are conduits for water, gas, electricity and communication. Leaks and bursts cause traffic disruptions and costly interruptions for critical services. The operational intelligence, adaptability and resilience that this project would deliver are going to be particularly relevant for urban infrastructure system operators.

Publications

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Armand H (2018) Impact of network sectorisation on water quality management in Journal of Hydroinformatics

 
Description I have just completed the second year of my 5 year EPSRC Fellowship. Key achievements so far include: (i) the completion of the research goals for the second year of the EPSRC Fellowship as defined in the Case for Support and also publishing the work in peered reviewed journals. The research focused on the the investigation of analytical and computational methods for the concurrent design, operation and control of dynamically adaptive water supply networks, which configure their connectivity, hydraulic conditions and operational objectives (application states); (iii) the setup of the Adaptive Networks Interest Group (Anglian Water, Cla-Val, Bristol Water, Severn Trent Water, Welsh Water); (iv) my appointment as an expert witness to the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry. The results of this investigation might have a significant impact on the design and operation of resilient water distribution networks.
Exploitation Route Fundamental and applied research in computational methods for the the concurrent design, operation and control of dynamically adaptive water supply networks. The development of best practices for the design and control of resilient (dynamically adaptive) networks. The development of new products and services.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Energy,Environment,Other

URL http://www.imperial.ac.uk/resilient-water-networks
 
Description The release of novel products for the design and control of dynamically adaptive (and resilient) water distribution networks. These analytical and optimization methods, and monitoring and control products improve the efficiency of water supply companies and allow them to maintains the continuous safe supply of potable water at a minimum cost to consumers. The research also has a significant impact on best practice guides for the design and operation of resilient water distribution networks (e.g. the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry).
Sector Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy,Environment,Other
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Expert Witness, Grenfell Tower Inquiry
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
URL https://www.grenfelltowerinquiry.org.uk/about/expert-witnesses
 
Description CDT PhD Funding (co-funded 50/50 with Cla-Val)
Amount £48,000 (GBP)
Organisation Imperial College London 
Department EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2017 
End 12/2020
 
Description CDT PhD Funding (co-funded 50/50 with United Utilities and Bristol Water)
Amount £120,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/L016826/1 (the industrial funding is £120,000) 
Organisation United Utilities Group PLC 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2018 
End 09/2022
 
Description CDT PhD Studentship (co-funded 50/50 with Anglian Water Services)
Amount £48,000 (GBP)
Organisation Imperial College London 
Department EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 09/2021
 
Description CDT PhD Studentship (co-funded 50/50 with Suez)
Amount £48,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Oxford 
Department EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT)
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2017 
End 12/2020
 
Description Anglian Water Services 
Organisation Anglian Water Services
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Computational methods and concepts for the upgrade (design) and control of water distribution networks, which dynamically adapt their connectivity and hydraulic conditions in order to improve their resilience and sustainability. Applied and fundamental research to facilitate the transition from existing single-feed (and sectorised) water distribution networks into dynamically adaptive, multi-feed and resilient networks.
Collaborator Contribution PhD funding. The financial support of an experimental programme. The exchange of operational knowledge. A steering panel member for the Adaptive Networks Interest Group, which I have setup to support the Fellowship Programme.
Impact Technology development and gathering operational and scientific evidence to influence best practices and Ofwat decisions for AMP7 (Asset Management Period 7, 2020-2025) with regards to the design and operation of resilient water distribution networks.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Bristol Water 
Organisation Bristol Water plc
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Fundamental and applied research into the formulation and solution of multi-objective control problems to minimise average zone pressure (AZP) and zonal pressure variations (PVZ). A "Field Lab" demonstrator, which is part of the operational networks of Bristol Water. The "Field Lab" demonstrator serves a population of 10,000 customer connections. A unique set of control trials and experiments to generate data to facilitate the fundamental research.
Collaborator Contribution PhD funding. An extensive technical support to access sites, and maintain monitoring and control equipment.
Impact The advanced control implemented in the "Field Lab" has guaranteed the continuous supply of potable water to customers during an unprecedented period of pipe failures in February, 2018. The work is recognised by the UK Water industry as a template for improving the resilience of water supply networks. The research was nominated for an award by the Water Industry Awards 2018 (the winners will be announced in May, 2018).
Start Year 2017
 
Description Cla-Val Ltd 
Organisation Cla-val (UK) Ltd
PI Contribution Fundamental and applied research in hydraulic control systems. An extensive experimental programme at Imperial College London, Cla-Val Lab in Switzerland and Bristol Water (Field Lab). Contributions: (i) the development of modelling tools for robust flow estimation; (ii) the development of computational optimisation methods for the operation of control valves; (iii) the development of advanced pilot control systems for diaphragm operated valves, which resulted in a product release at the Global Leakage Summit 2018 (March, 2018). A major outcome is the development of a robust methodology for the estimation of background leakage in water distribution networks by combining our advances in monitoring, control and analytical methods. A patent is currently filed via Imperial Innovations.
Collaborator Contribution PhD funding. Support of the experimental programme. Development and productising of the proposed pilot systems for the control of diaphragm actuated globe valves.
Impact The design and control of resilient water distribution networks; and the enabling monitoring and control technologies. The work has been nominated as a finalist in the UK Water Industry Achievements Award 2018 (the winners will be announced on the 21st of May, 2018).
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaboration with ResiWater (a French-German Research Programme on secure sensor networks and model-based assessment tools for increasing the resilience of urban infrastructure) 
Organisation IRSTEA National Research Institute Science and Technology
Country France 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution An invited speaker to the ResiWater annula conference (29-30th Jan, 2018). Joint research focusing on (i) the development of quantitative metrics for assessing the resilience of water distribution networks and systems; (ii) the development of pressure-driven hydraulic modelling methods; (iii) the development of a probabilistic cost benefit analysis for the implementation of advanced pressure control methods.
Collaborator Contribution Joint research focusing on (i) the development of quantitative metrics for assessing the resilience of water distribution networks and systems; (ii) the development of pressure-driven hydraulic modelling methods; (iii) the development of a probabilistic cost benefit analysis for the implementation of advanced pressure control methods.
Impact It is a multi-disciplinary collaboration: Pipe Hydraulics, Computational Optimisation, Economics. The collaboration started in 2017 and it is gradually evolving.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Suez 
Organisation GDF Suez
Country France 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The formulation of performance metrics and hydraulically enhanced graph-based methods for Dynamically Adaptive Water Supply Networks such as resilience and observability. Multi-scale multi-objective optimisation for both reducing pressure and improving the resilience of networks.
Collaborator Contribution PhD funding. Provision of case studies (models of complex water distribution networks)
Impact The collaboration is at an early stage. A multi-disciplinary collaboration: computer science, computational optimisation, complex systems, hydraulic analysis.
Start Year 2017
 
Company Name Inflowmatix Ltd 
Description Monitoring and control technologies for the operational of resilient and hydraulically calm water distribution networks. Although the company was established in 2015, the fundamental research carried out as part of this award allowed the development and release of new products in Q1, 2018. 
Year Established 2015 
Impact It allows water utilities to improve the resilience, efficiency and optimal asset rehabilitation; thus providing continuous safe and secure potable water at a minimum cost.
 
Description Imperial Science Festival 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A display of the technologies I have developed for the control of dynamically adaptive water distribution networks at the Imperial College Science Festival 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Setup an Adaptive Networks Interest Group (ANsIG) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I have setup an Adaptive Networks Interest Group (ANsIG) in order to actively engage water utilities and technology companies in motivating and integrating the fundamental and applied research, and validating and refining the developed design and control methods. The joint support of ANsIG and the Grantham Institute provides an invaluable route for communicating and disseminating the outcomes of the Fellowship research so these could be successfully transitioned to industry-wide best practices. The ANsIG meets every 3-4 months to focus on particular operational topics. The topics covered so far: pressure control and networks resilience. The next workshop is in May, 2018 and it covers robust methods for estimating background leakage by utilising advances in monitoring and control developed by Dr Ivan Stoianov.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
URL http://www.imperial.ac.uk/resilient-water-networks
 
Description Student Recruitment and Outreach (Visit St Pauls Way Trust, London E3) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact A school visit as part of the Imperial College Student Recruitment and Outreach Programme.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018