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Technological breakthroughs

INNOVATIVE DEVELOPMENT FOR MEKOROT AND TOP IT UP

FLOATING ON THE SURFACE OF THE WATER

 

Joint testing of the innovative technology conducted by the Mekorot and Top It Up - a modular cover using floating balls - has yielded results that facilitate the significant reduction of water evaporation in the reservoirs and maintaining of the water’s quality.  This is an important step in protecting Israel’s water industry.

In 2011, Mekorot, through its WaTech Division, began a joint venture with Top It Up, which uses floating balls to prevent water evaporation in open reservoirs, and maintains the water quality, requiring very little maintenance.  The joint venture is part of the Mekorot Group’s activity to develop state-of-the-art water technologies.

Top It Up has developed an innovative concept based on light balls that together create a modular floating cover, which can be used for water reservoirs (including reservoirs for brackish water produced in the Negev), designated for the irrigation of agricultural crops.  The cover was developed based on the operational specifications of the Mekorot Group, to provide a multi-use, universal solution at minimal cost.

The size of ball, its structure and materials were selected to maximally suit Israel’s climate conditions.  The Top It Up balls are built of light plastic, are hollow and when placed on top of the reservoir, they fill up with the reservoir water and sink into the water upto their half-way mark.  The balls spread to uniformly cover the entire reservoir.  The advantage of this method is that the cover cools the reservoir in summer and insulates it in winter from the rays of the sun, thereby moderating the changes in temperature during the course of the day.  Other covers heat up the water surface.

 

An Elegant Efficient Solution


The first field test was conducted in the summer of 2012, at the Ze’elim reservoir that supplies water for agricultural uses.  The purpose of the test was to examine whether the balls distribute uniformly across the reservoir’s surface and remain stable and cope with the heavy winds that blow in the area of the northern Negev.  Mekorot’s water engineers quickly discovered that this is an elegant and efficient solution.  The test proved that the ball’s physical characteristics are suitable for an irrigation reservoir cover.  Additionally, the balls’ presence did not prevent the schools of fish living in the reservoir from doing their job of cleaning the reservoir water of algae

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Improving Water Quality and Reducing Costs


The Mekorot Group operates three research and development centers (through its WaTech Center) for applied research in the field of water and wastewater:  The Shafdan Center for Research and Development for the study of reclaimed wastewater; the Research and Development Center for the development of membrane technologies at the Sabha site which will soon be expanded to the size of the new desalination plant in Ashdod; and the R&D Center for the study of the quality of the surface water at the Central Filtration Facility at the Eshkol Site.

In September of 2013, the second field test commenced in cooperation with Top It Up at the R&D center, located at the Eshkol Site.  The purpose of the test was to examine the cover’s influence on the quality of the water in the reservoir.  The fact that raw water for drinking and treated wastewater reservoirs are exposed to the sun and wind is the background for this research.  This exposure leads to an increase in the water’s temperature, evaporation and a decrease in its quality as seen in the growth of algae and Zooplankton and in an overall increase in the organic load.

At the Eshkol Site, a new research platform was installed that is suitable for larger scale testing and facilitates the conducting of a variety of tests that feature state-of-the-art water technologies.  The test was conducted in pools identical in volume and shape, in an area of 1,300 square meters and a depth of 1.5 meters.  In November of 2013, one of the pools was covered with the Top it Up Cover and the second was left uncovered.  After four months of measurements, the cover was proven to be very effective in preventing water evaporation and suppression of biological development in the test reservoir in comparison to the control reservoir, without the balls.

In addition, in the Ze’elim test, the cover was proven to prevent access of the water fowl and birds to the reservoir, and thereby reduced the devouring of fish and contamination by the birds.  Consequently, the reservoir cover is expected to lead to significant savings in water, costs of water treatment and to an improvement in the quality of the supplied water.  In any event, the testing will continue in the summer, in order to examine the cover’s influence on evaporation and water quality in very high temperatures.

 

Seeking Technologies in cooperation with Start-up Companies


In light of the Mekorot Group’s know-how, experience and technological capabilities, accumulated throughout its 77 years of operation, the Company established the WaTech Division in 2004.  WaTech is a water technologies accelerator was started to promote and seek out new water technologies based on the Group’s needs, and the various and demands and trends of the water markets.

The testing of the floating balls is one of many tests conducted at the Mekorot sites in cooperation with Israeli and foreign start-ups and with cooperation between Mekorot’s research teams and leading national and international academic institutions, including the Technion in Haifa, Tel Aviv University, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and other research institutions.