Sharing water monitoring know-how and finding potential for future collaboration – with visits in Basel, Zurich and at bNovate
Comprehensive information on the BactoSense and an extensive water tour
In March 2023, Czech water professionals working in utilities, engineering companies, and academia came to Switzerland to exchange and learn from their local counterparts. The trip was organised and financed by Czech Water Association and the companies ENVI-PUR and Energie Bohemia.
They stopped at the bNovate office in Zurich. Luigi Grasso introduced the Czechs to the company and outlined some of our strategic collaborations. For example, ToDrinQ is a project that aims to develop novel real-time sensing and water quality monitoring technologies, innovative treatment systems and interoperable decision tools that support resilient, evidence-based treatment plant design and improve overall water system operational awareness and response. Stefan Zimmermann discussed the use of BactoSense in practical cases. He gave examples of online automated water monitoring applications such as ultra or nanofiltration, membrane filtration, water production for surface water out of dams, and disinfection.
Afterwards, the party went to Wasserversorgung in Zurich to tour the installations. The local team, including Oliver Köster, Andreas Peter, Caroline Marks and Jakob Helbling, presented their research, scientific projects and how they do water treatment. Later, the participants discussed flow cytometry usage for water monitoring and bNovate technology. The guests also visited Industrielle Werke Basel AG (IWB). Pascal Brand, the Head of Inspection and Online Analytics, and Richard Wülser shared the company’s experience with BactoSense before guiding the group through the state-of-the-art facilities.
“For us at bNovate, meeting water professionals and learning about their working knowledge is always stimulating. The visit from the Czech delegation was a great opportunity to explore the possible synergies. ”
Dr. Maria Reid – Channel Sales Manager at bNovate
Learning about water challenges and ongoing projects of the Czech water experts
Dr Eliška Maršálková, Head of the Brno Research Division, Institute of Botany, the Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS), presented preliminary results of a study conducted in Brno with BactoSense. The researchers tried out flow cytometry To monitor cyanobacteria in drinking water sources and to monitor the effectiveness of disinfection. The water was treated by oxidation using CaviPlasma, a device invented under the leadership of the Brno University of Technology in collaboration with Masaryk University and the Institute of Botany of the Czech Academy of Sciences. CaviPlasma removes biological and chemical micropollutants (residuals of pharmaceuticals, estrogens, and pesticides). Dr Maršálková wanted to understand the effects of oxidation (disinfection) and assess how the process worked. They tested the fully automated BactoSense alongside the desktop CyFlow ML flow cytometry system from Partec. The experimental results showed significant bacterial removal upon oxidation and that doing disinfection kinetics was possible. Dr Maršálková will pursue her academic work to develop further applications.
The water treatment plant Nýrsko has been operational since 1988, and its water production capacity happens to be 230 l/s for 30,000 residents supplied. The source of raw water for the WTP Nýrsko is a water reservoir located on the river Úhlava. The principles on which the WTP is based are coagulation, filtration, stabilisation, and disinfection. Since 2015, the hydrobiological conditions have fluctuated with picoplanktonic cyanobacteria contamination. This issue will be resolved by installing ultrafiltration, which has already been successfully tested in semi-operational testing. Online monitoring with BactoSense is beneficial for quick reaction to fluctuating parameters of raw and treated water.
Mgr. Jiří Paul, Director of Water Supply and Sewerage Systems in the Beroun area and Vice-Chairman of CzWA (Water Association of the Czech Republic) and Dr Filip Wanner, Technical Project Manager at ENERGIE AG BOHEMIA, joined too. ENERGIE AG BOHEMIA supplies drinking water for 921 000 inhabitants and operates 470 water treatment plants. Both Mgr. Paul Jiří and Dr Wanner are active members of organisations regrouping Czech water professionals at a National and European level, like the Water Supply and Sewerage Association of the Czech Republic (SOVAK ČR), the Czech Water Association (CzWA) and the European Federation of National Associations of Water Services (EurEau). These organisations regroup companies and institutions active in the water sector. Among other things, they are looking into modern legislation for the 21st century and intelligent solutions like Smart metering projects – Beroun, Kolín.
The Management of Envi Pur also took part in the visit. Engineer Pavel Hnojna leads this company. The family business with the motto RETHINKING WATER introduces new water and wastewater treatment technologies in the Czech market. They tailor solutions for municipalities, industries, households, and fish farms.
“My visit to bNovate was an eye-opening experience. I gained more knowledge about the BactoSense and the use of flow cytometry for water quality monitoring. I had no idea where to start, but now I can see better the potential of this quality monitoring technique and envision possible applications in water treatment technology.“
Pavel Dobias, PhD (Process Engineer – Water Treatment Technology, ENVI-PUR Ltd., Czechia)
During these two days, the participants from Switzerland and Czechia shared much knowledge and know-how. The discussions and exchanges proved fruitful and revealed the potential for synergy and future collaborations. This visit was just the beginning, and many more exciting things will come.