CENTAUR™ - Urban Flood Alleviation Using Local Network Storage Capacity

  • Cost Effective Neural Technique for Alleviation of Urban Flood Risk

    Local real-time-control to utilise existing upstream capacity to avoid flooding
  • 3 Year Horizon 2020 Project

    €2.5 million funding starting in September 2015
  • Project partners

    University of Sheffield, University of Coimbra, EAWAG Aquatic Research, EMS, Steinhardt GmbH, Veolia and Águas de Coimbra E.E.M
  • CENTAUR™ - Urban Flood Alleviation Using Local Network Storage Capacity
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What is CENTAUR?

CENTAUR is a low cost, decentralised, autonomous real-time-control flow regulating unit for sewer networks to reduce local flood risk in urban areas. CENTAUR will be a rapidly deployable solution which utilises existing network storage capacity which is unused during times of storm events.

The 3-year project will deliver innovate new technology to reduce urban flood risk by maximising the existing storage capacity in urban drainage systems, thereby reducing the need for expensive new infrastructure. By utilising innovative data-driven techniques and an autonomous control system CENTAUR will avoid the high costs and complex nature associated with existing large-scale RTC technology. By shifting the cost/benefit calculation, CENTAUR will provide RTC technology to a significantly wider range of sewer network operators, and hence have a substantial impact on a large number of people currently at high risk of urban flooding.

Why is it needed?

Urban flooding is increasingly one of the most widespread and significant impacts of climate change. Increasingly frequent and severe urban flooding has the potential to severely impact the lives of thousands of people. In the EU water utilities and local authorities have finite resources to cope with increased urban flood risk. Resources are constrained by the current economic environment (less funding and staff) and also policies such as those to reduce carbon emissions to mitigate climate change.

Traditional ‘resource intensive’ solutions in dealing with urban flooding (such as the construction of underground detention tanks) are becoming increasingly cost prohibitive in many scenarios. In addition, such ‘design-engineer-build’ solutions can only be designed to mitigate a specific defined level of risk. Given significant uncertainties in future climate and the variable nature and density of urban environments, this means such solutions may be significantly over or under designed over medium time scales (20-30 years).

How does it work?

CENTAUR uses smart ‘self-learning’ data-driven approaches to utilise existing in-system storage which is inaccessible with current technologies at a local scale. It aims to use these sophisticated computational techniques combined with specially designed flow control devices to locally balance flood risk. It will optimise the use of existing available in-pipe capacity to attenuate and store water at times of high flood risk.

Why is it different?

Although previous RTC pilot projects have been conducted, most of them (e.g. Vienna, Dresden, Aarhus) are large-scale systems based on entire drainage networks. Such systems are characterised by complex sensor networks, linked to centralised control systems governed by calibrated hydrodynamic modelling tools and fed by radar rainfall technology. Such systems are expensive (i.e. several millions of euros) and complex to install and operate, requiring a high investment in new infrastructure, communication equipment and control systems. In contrast, CENTAUR is based on an entirely different philosophy of a novel, inexpensive, decentralised, autonomous (self-learning) RTC system.

Being low cost, with minimal infrastructure build it can be installed gradually in systems to deal with localities of high flood risk and so allow water utilities and local authorities to take an adaptive approach to flood risk management in their areas. CENTAUR will be an autonomous decentralised system, acting without the need of a central control fed by a hydrodynamic model. Its self-learning capabilities mean that it is inherently adaptable and capable of adjusting to changing flow patterns over time, as can be caused by climate change, land use or population change. CENTAUR does not require specialist staff for its long-term operation.

The system will be fully autonomous without the need for central control. Each CENTAUR will run its own local sensor network; the sensors will not just be used for informing the local control but will collect data so that the system is self-learning and can adapt to systems as they degrade and change. Also, the system will be able to cope if sensor data availability reduces with time.

Where should CENTAUR be deployed?

Wherever properties or areas are at risk of flooding, then CENTAUR can be deployed to utilise available storage and delay the onset of flooding. In this way, CENTAUR can effectively and economically reduce the risk of flooding; larger storms will be able to pass without incident. Extra storage can be infeasible and too expensive, as can centralised SCADA-based systems. Conditions can change (land-use, climate change, population) and operators can be faced with new risk levels. With limited resources, operators can turn to CENTAUR as the solution; minimal infrastructure can be introduced gradually to meet the required demands.

Project partners

Pennine Water Group, University of Sheffield (Project Lead) - Programme management; technical leadership of system control and software development.

University of Coimbra - Virtual testing of CENTAUR within network models; technical leadership of the installation of CENTAUR within the pilot catchment, including; monitoring performance; refinement; demonstration of final solution; installation protocol.

EAWAG Aquatic Research - Involved in an advisory capacity throughout the project.

Environmental Monitoring Solutions Ltd - Configuration of local monitoring, communication and control system (LMCSS), including; embedding and operationalising the learning/control algorithms (UoS), integration with and control of the flow control device (Steinhardt); testing at lab scale; installation, trialling and refining the system at full scale; commercialisation.

Steinhardt GmbH - Design and fabrication of the flow control device; significant involvement in demonstration, implementation and commercialisation.

Veolia - Identification and implementation of the final version of CENTAUR into demonstration catchments; simulating the required performance in a market scenario.

Águas de Coimbra, E.E.M - Will make wastewater network and relevant data available to the project; in collaboration with EMS and UoC, AC will install and maintain monitoring equipment and the prototype CENTAUR devices in the sewerage network.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 641931.

Want to know more?

For more information on the project please contact the EMS Innovation Manager Dr Sonja Ostojin or call 0114 272 2270.

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