(ID:273) new concepts for the design of (underground) networks...research partner

Wageningen University
Sustainable urban development through innovative concepts for urban infrastructure

AddressBornse Weilanden 9, 6708 BP, Wageningen, Netherlands
URLhttp://www.wageningenur.nl/en/Expertise-Services/Chair-groups/Agrotechnology-and-Food-Sciences/Subdepartment-of-Environmental-Technology.htm
ContactMarc Spiller, researcher, marc.spiller@wur.nl
Line of industryResearch
Area of expertiseDesign; Sustainability, network infrastructure
Sizemore than 1000 employees

Role of company/organisation

Challenge industry standards and provide ideas and methods for urban development under uncertain future conditions. Provide innovative ideas and solution to recovery of resources and physical network connection. Support businesses through research in terms of optimisation of technologies, evaluation studies.

Opportunities for collaboration

Creative knowledge exchange and transfer of proven research to application. Future common research projects at EU level or national level. Collaboration in MSc education and PhD research.

Description of idea

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The ambition of Eindhoven calls for a coordinated and aligned approach of multiple utilities and service providers as there are links between different resource flows. For example: from wastewater energy (electricity and gas), water and nutrients (Phosphorus) can be supplied. Solid organic waste can be co-digested with wastewater to produce more energy and nutrient rich sludge (a valuable product). Heat maybe transferred between different buildings. This calls for an innovative approach to organise (underground) network space. I propose a new concepts for the design of (underground) networks that enables easy cross connection between flows, easy access, easy maintenance and installation. The idea has been proven and an economic evaluation shows that it is cost effective when multiple networks come together in inner city location. The solution also facilitates flexibility to respond to future changes through the cost effective renewal of networks. This relates to the second idea! Sustainable development is a long term goal. Throughout the development process it is likely that the ambitions of the municipality change, new more effective technologies reach market maturity and resource demands (e.g. energy, water) will alter. We propose to apply innovative planning and design methods to develop technologies and infrastructure with business partners that are flexible and can respond to: change in operating objectives, demands in capacity, spatial growth and technological innovation. Modules and platform design are some possibilities to implement this. I see the role of Wageningen University as a research partner in i) supporting the design/ planning process with cutting edge academic methods and knowledge and ii) continuous evaluation and monitoring of the project. Such rigorous academic involvement is imperative for generating the evidence necessary to make Eindhoven an internationally recognised sustainability pilot. The idea proposed focuses on the point Eindhoven sustainable city. I see also opportunities to make the innovation visible. This would especially be interesting for underground space, as this is often forgotten by stakeholders (i.e. out of sight out of mind).

Type of ideacombination of product and service
Category of ideatechnical; design
Enabling conditionsTo apply the ideas on the ground the interest and financial commitment of a business partner is necessary. These business partners could be: civil engineering, consultancy, technology development company, utility company or municipality.

Stage of development

Proven innovation: it has been used in practice on a small scale.

Substantiation stage of development

With regards to the network space idea. The basic principle of what I propose has been applied in a number of cases, around the world, but with the emergence of more integrated networks it does (or should) received renewed interest. The idea of flexibility in technology design has been widely applied in other fields such as care manufacturing (modules) and recently also by the Waterschap Limburg: http://www.wbl.nl/innovaties/rwzi/Pages/Home.aspx . Yet, it has not been applied for resource cycles/ sustainability and there are more options to achieve flexibility of design - most of them proven in other fields (building construction, ICT, strategic planning).

Provability contribution to sustainability

Underpinned contribution to sustainability; this can be shown on the basis of experiments or calculations.

Step in the right direction

My research results and those of other shows that the methods and tools I propose lead to sustainable development along the three pillars (economy, social, environmental)! For example modules are cost efficient because they allow stepwise expansion and as a consequence increase operational efficiency and lower costs (higher Net Present Value as no investment in over capacity). In addition modular systems also facilitate take back logistic and clustering of reusable materials in units. Consequently, they improve reuse of materials in cycles (cradle to cradle). Benefits of the new network infrastructure are explained under point 18.

Flexible idea

Flexibility is the very essence of what I propose! For evidence I can refer to the recent approach taken by VW for flexible production (http://www.vwvortex.com). A new approach to production plant design and car design has allowed them to increase their quick response to market demands and reduced costs. Evidence also shows that generally a modular design, as implemented by VW, increases chances for recovery and reuse of materials. Other example exist also in civil engineering. I considered the right choice of materials (i.e. environmentally friendly) an integral part what I propose, academic evaluation through Life Cycle Analysis will support this.

Good investment

For networks: Studies how that when there are 4 utility network pipes with regular maintenance the idea I propose breaks even with the alternative. Research further indicates environmental and social benefits from fewer road congestion, air pollution, longer asset life time and damage of 3rd party networks. Flexibility: From practice VW and Waterschap Limburg claim economic benefits. http://www.vwvortex.com, http://www.verdygo.com/, http://www.wbl.nl/innovaties/rwzi/Pages/Home.aspx Other research shows that especially modular designs facilitate reuse of materials and reverse logistics (i.e. Cradle to Cradle). Note: The economics and benefits are case specific. I am using examples from other sectors to shows that there can be economic benefits. Wageningen University will contribute methods to evaluate the best design/ plan at an early stage and later to validate/ evaluate actual system performance.

Comments

In the process of preparing this proposal I identified synergies with the Urban Tricycle Platform consortium which also submitted a proposal. This consortium is a very suitable partner to for implementing the ideas I have put forward in this proposal and I would like, if possible, to collaborate with them.

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