ABB solution to provide fresh drinking water for desert city

2011-01-03 - ABB is providing a complete power, automation and mechanical solution for a large water transfer project in a remote and rainless region of the Sahara Desert. The project will pump and store water from deep underground, ready for transfer to a city of 115,000 people that is 750 km away.

By ABB Communications

Currently under construction and scheduled for completion in 2011, the Réseau de Collecte water transfer scheme in Algeria is one of the biggest water projects ever undertaken in the Sahara region - one of the hottest and driest places on Earth, where temperatures can reach 50 degrees Celsius.

About 90 percent of Algeria’s 35 million population lives on the northern coastal belt close to the Mediterranean Sea, but several million live inland in oasis towns and cities, where rainfall is rare and water resources are limited.

Tamanrasset and In Salah are two such oasis cities. Tamanrasset is a large city of 115,000 inhabitants that lies deep in the southern reaches of the Algerian Sahara. The city is located near an aquifer that faces shortages in water reserves, while In Salah, a small urban community of about 43,000 inhabitants, is located close to an aquifer with a surplus of water.

The Réseau de Collecte will help rectify the shortage of potable water in Tamanrasset. Earmarked as one of the Algerian government’s key infrastructure projects, the water transfer scheme will pump and deliver 50,000 cubic meters of water each day via pipeline from In Salah to Tamanrasset, a distance of almost 750 km. By 2030, it is expected that 150,000 cubic meters of water per day will be needed, a tripling of water supplies to meet the needs of the city’s rapidly growing population.

Map of Algeria showing In Salah and Tamanrasset. Both cities are located deep in the Sahara. In Salah is about 1,500 km from the capital Algiers. Remote desert communities pose logistical challenges for infrastructure projects like the Réseau de Collecte. ABB has a long track record in delivering large-scale solutions of this kind in Algeria.

ABB is playing an important role in the project by supplying a turnkey solution that covers mechanical, electrical, control, instrumentation and communications equipment and know-how for the entire water collection system at In Salah.

The 25 sq km site consists of 24 wells, pumping water from a depth of 600 meters at a rate of 35 liters per second. The water will then be collected and stored in eight huge covered reservoirs, where it will be protected from evaporation, ready for transfer via the pipeline to Tamanrasset.

The ABB solution will power the whole water collection system connecting the site to the local power grid to ensure a safe and reliable supply of electricity to site operations. ABB instrumentation will measure the flow, temperature, pressure and quality of the water, and an ABB distributed control system will monitor and control the entire process.

Elsewhere in Algeria, an ABB solution will reduce the energy consumption and maintenance downtime of the world’s largest seawater reverse osmosis desalination plant in Oran

ABB was able to use the breadth of its power and automation offering and water industry expertise to improve on the original specifications by adding ABB low-voltage drives to each well pumping system. The drives significantly improve pump performance, availability and energy consumption, by starting the pumps smoothly and by automatically adjusting them to rapid changes in operating conditions, thereby saving energy and reducing wear and tear.

ABB is a leader in power and automation solutions for the water industry, and has a huge installed base in products and solutions for water plants and networks, waste water treatment plants and desalination.

In Algeria, ABB is currently providing an optimized electrical solution that will boost the energy efficiency and reduce the maintenance downtime of the world’s largest seawater reverse osmosis desalination plant at Magtaa in the city of Oran. And in Abu Dhabi ABB is supplying a turnkey mechanical, electrical and automation solution for the expansion of the huge Shuweihat water transfer system, which when completed will supply the emirate with 680,000 cubic meters of potable water a day.

ABB is executing the Tamanrasset water collection solution in conjunction with the Chinese joint venture MCC-SOCOM on behalf of Algérienne des Eaux (ADE), a state-owned utility under the management of the Algerian water Resources Ministry.

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