Today, most countries are putting immense pressure on water supplies. The global population is growing rapidly, and forecasts indicate that with current practices, the planet will face a 40% deficit between forecast demand and available water supply by 2030. Furthermore, chronic water shortages, hydrological instability and extreme weather events (floods and droughts) are viewed as some of the greatest threats to global growth and stability. Recognition of the role water scarcity and drought play in perpetuating inadequacy and dispute is increasing.
Feeding 9 billion people by 2050 would need a 60 per cent increase in agricultural output (which currently consumes 70 per cent of the resource) and a 15 per cent increase in water depletion. In addition to this rising demand, resources are already limited in many parts of the world. Estimates suggest that 40% of the world’s population lives in inadequate water areas and that approximately 1⁄4 of the world’s GDP is exposed to this threat. By 2025, around 1.8 billion people will be living in areas or countries with total water shortages. Water security is a big – and often increasing – problem for many countries today.
Climate change will complicate the situation by modifying hydrological cycles, making water more volatile and increasing the occurrence and intensity of floods and droughts. Approximately 1 billion people who live in monsoonal basins and 500 million people live in deltas are highly susceptible. Per year $120 billion flood damages are estimated (only from property damage), and droughts pose, among others, constraints to the rural poor, highly dependent on rainfall variability for subsistence.
Convergence of this resource also limits water security. There are 276 transboundary basins, shared by 148 countries, accounting for 60 per cent of the global freshwater flow. Likewise, 300 aquifer systems are of a transboundary type, indicating that 2 billion people worldwide rely on groundwater. To overcome these complex and interrelated water issues, countries will need to alter the way they manage their water supplies and related services.
Innovative startups in action to solve the water problem
Driven by this urgent need for breakthrough solutions in water efficiency, resiliency and sustainability, start-ups are rising to the challenge, tackling the issues with exciting and emerging technologies, and ready to partner with utilities to resolve their most pressing challenges.
Startuplynx recently looked into the emerging technologies and up-and-coming startups related to the water management. As there are large number of startups working on this topic, we decided to share different categories of water management solutions. This time, we are taking a look at 5 different approaches for the water management solutions with some examples of startups working on it.
70 per cent of the world is occupied by oceans. They feed more than three billion people and consume 30% of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere and 90% of the heat generated by climate change. They are also progressively supplying the increasing population with freshwater.
Since there is no lack of sea water, it is necessary to consider and track the environmental effects of the rapidly increasing number of desalination plants.
What is Desalination?
Desalination is the process of extracting water salts and brine is the by-product of the desalination. So if it is not treated, it can degrade the coastal and marine habitats.
In most desalination procedures, approximately 1.5 liters of liquid contaminated with chlorine and copper are produced for each liter of potable water produced. The poisonous brine depletes oxygen and affects species in the food chain when pumped back into the ocean.
Manzoor Qadir, Assistant Director of the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) said that the increase in salinity and the temperature could cause decrease in the dissolved oxygen content which inturn result in the condition called “hypoxia”. According to him it could harm the species that live in a underground water body and transform into noticeable impacts in the food chain. In addition, some substances used in the pre-treatment desalination process (e.g. copper, chloride) may be harmful to species in the receiving water.
34 million population of people in Saudi Arabia are getting almost half percentage of drinking water from the desalination process. According to the study conducted by United Nation in 2018, Almost 16,000 desalination plants are now operating in 177 countries, generating a freshwater volume equal to almost half of the average flow over Niagara Falls. However if the hazardous brine which are dumped into the sea are left untreated, it might end up in the risk of contaminating the food chains.
Excessive water requirements related to population development, increased per capita water consumption and economic growth, combined with a decrease in water supplies due to climate change and pollution, are worsening water scarcity in most regions of the world. The UN report study says that unconventional water resources, resulting from desalination, are vital to promote Sustainable Development Goal 6 (to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all), but that innovation in brine management and disposal is required: seawater desalination can extend water supplies beyond what is available from the hydrological cycle.
High salinity water management is also a key trend towards solving the issue of water shortage in smart cities, rising the coverage of freshwater and pursuing zero liquid discharge. As normal, the desalination of sea or brackish waters requires large quantities of energy and efficient brine disposal facilities. In contrast to standard methods, eco-friendly desalination emphasizes on enhanced evaporation using renewables.
The below radar image of StartupLynx application represents the Water Desalination startup companies (clic the picture to access freely our StartupLynx radar).
Example of water desalination
Climate change and population growth will double the demand for water by 2030 (UN). Nearly 3.9 billion people could be forced to run out of water by 2040 (OECD), foremost among them the most deprived. Faced with this challenge, Marc Vergnet and Maxime Haudebourg have created Mascara Renewable Water, a company specializing in innovative water treatment using renewable energies, to produce soft and affordable water for all. The first phase of development led to the industrialization of OSMOSUN®, the world’s first desalination range with the sun. OSMOSUN® offers, using patented Mascara technologies, a range of desalination units producing between 1 and 600 m3 per day using solar energy only, and without battery. Mascara Renewable Water, the world’s first industrial solution for economical and ecological autonomous solar desalination: OSMOSUN®
Re-use of wastewater
Freshwater is only 2.5 per cent of the water available on the earth. With the exponential growth in the world’s population, the rapid urbanization and global warming, this resource is becoming inadequate. It is now a significant environmental, social and economic problem for cities and industry. Wastewater reuse is one of the options that can address this challenge.
Social and health hazards, declining agricultural yields, effects on industrial production, usage disputes, fires and desertification all present risks to these nations if they are unable to find the appropriate answers. Wastewater reuse is a straightforward solution in these areas.
Indeed the resource are plentiful and accessible where water is consumed. Wastewater reuse is therefore less expensive than the processing of desalinated water or the transport of drinking water over long distances.
Wastewater reuse is explicitly regulated by global (WHO), European (European Union) and national legislation.
The below radar image of StartupLynx application represents the wastewater re-use startup companies.
Example of wastewater reuse
Elentec is an electrochemical based technology solutions provider for water treatment. Uses electro-coagulation as an alternative to chemical treatment. Claims to remove heavy metals, phosphate/phosphorus, arsenic, solids, and others. Used in industry, environmental management, resource recovery, and others. Elentec develops Electrochemical based systems as “clean” technology for the sustainable treatment of water and wastewater.
Every drop of clean water is precious. Unfortunately, 30–50% of water is lost through aging infrastructure. And lost water equals lost revenue to the water service supplier. Water is lost through leaks and cracks in pipes and their fittings. Since most infrastructure is underground, it is virtually impossible to visually determine the location of these leaks unless the water has reached the surface (causing ponding and sink holes, structural damage, buckling pavement, etc.), and the exact location may be indeterminate. Leak detection requires special technologies that allow inspectors to precisely determine the location and severity of pipeline leaks. This is a field that continues to grow and advance by utilizing both established technology and by adopting emerging methods.
Necessity of leak detection:
Water lost through leaks, waste, or simple theft is referred to as non-revenue water, in that it fails to provide revenue to the water supplier because it never reaches its customers. These can be physical losses of water escaping the system, or unaccounted-for water that is not measured due to faulty meters and meters that have been tampered with, poor accounting and bookkeeping, or as a result of human error when reading and recording the water system flow meters. Available and emerging technologies are designed to detect and prevent physical water losses. These will continue over time until they are detected. The accumulation of losses over long durations can result in significant losses even from insignificant leaks. And if water can get out, impurities (soil, bacteria, organics, etc.) can get in and impair the quality of the water, even rendering it unfit to drink.
The below radar image of StartupLynx application represents the Leak detection startup companies.
Example of leak detection startups
Droople has developed an artificial intelligence-based water leakage detection solution for commercial applications. The solution consists of retrofittable AI-embedded devices with fog computing architecture which provides insights about water usage and leakage points in the pipeline network through a software platform & mobile application. Can also be used for water asset management, predictive maintenance, and demand management. Droople is an IoT platform for water intelligence enabling efficient management of water-driven assets.
Telaqua specializes in remote water management. They offer a water leak detection solution and a connected irrigation solution. Water is the issue of tomorrow, which is why, thanks to connected sensors and a simple and ergonomic interface, they offer professionals the opportunity to monitor their water consumption in real time to enable them to reduce it. telaqua’s expertise in electronics, IOT and Big Data offer efficient and intuitive solutions that adapt to the needs of each professional.
Water Quality Control
Water quality and wastewater monitoring are key tools for managing freshwater resources, providing critical information on the physical, chemical and/or biological condition of water resources, identifying trends and developments over time, and identifying emerging problems of water quality. They do provide means to define policies and interventions to improve water and wastewater quality, mitigate and regulate water contamination from particular sources, assess the effectiveness of pollution control and regulatory policies and enforce them and resolve water quality emergencies. It is therefore critical that issues relating to water quality should be understood within the context of hydrological processes focused on water quality and hydrological monitoring. Enhanced water quality and monitoring of wastewater would be key in assessing progress towards achieving the objectives of the SDGs on water quality and wastewater.
Water quality and wastewater monitoring are poorly executed in developing countries due to lack of adequate instruments, economic resources and technical abilities. They are largely based on outdated traditional methods and are negatively impacted by a lack of scientific expertise and technical skills. As a consequence, data on water quality and wastewater are insufficient, unreliable and unorganized. Water quality monitoring is now becoming a complicated problem due to emerging barriers to water quality.
Subsequently, water quality monitoring requires an immediate attention in both developed and emerging nations. Especially sharing scientific knowledge and modern technologies and building human and scientific/technical abilities are necessary factors to enhance water quality monitoring in order to successfully cope with the challenge of monitoring a wide number of parameters, including newly emerging pollutants. New and advanced water quality monitoring techniques using emerging technologies can deliver reliable, precise, continuous and comprehensive data on the quality of water supplies required for smart decision and the design, planning and implementation of effective pollution control measures. In addition, monitoring of water quality needs to make an effort to raise awareness, because every person can be a part of improving environmental conditions, managing water quality management and decision.
The below radar image of StartupLynx application represents the Water Quality Control startup companies.
Example of water quality control startup
The US start-up Spout has developed a Waterlyzer, an on-demand, in-home test device that delivers high-precision water quality results in real-time. It can be connected to a smartphone, analyzes tap water and detects any pollutants of concern within minutes. Safespout provides a solution to test the water quality at home. It provides a solution to test the amount of lead present in water. Its solution helps to test the lead in faucets, pipes, and water line. Find out if your drinking water is contaminated with lead. The most accurate home drinking water test for lead.
Smart Water bottle
To improve your health and fitness, drinking lots of water every day is very important part of our daily lives. Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of stats suggesting very few of us are drinking enough water. A recent study found that one in five people do not drink water on a given day instead they are focusing more on calorie-packed, super-sugary beverages.
The most sophisticated smart water bottles on the market support to hold you on track of your hydration play. Thanks to intelligent features such as hydration tracking, Bluetooth syncing, futuristic construction, and health monitoring, they’re worth the money. For all of us trying (and occasionally failing) to be safe, smart water bottles are a major innovation. Mainly, they monitor your water consumption, connect with a smartphone app to keep your hydration signals monitored in real-time, and plot your targets.
The best smart water bottles will actually light up as a notification to drink up, sterilize your drink, and monitor your sipping stats on an application, while normal water bottles only have a spot for quick sipping. It is also worth pointing out that “smart” does not simply mean battery-powered, since we see it as any functionality that makes people live more efficiently.
The below radar image of StartupLynx application represents the Smart water bottle startup companies.
Example of smart water bottle company
Cirkul is a water bottle that provides custom flavors for your water. Transform your water with the turn of a dial. Take control of your beverage to drink more water. The only bottle that is custom, convenient, and clean.
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