10.02.2020 change 10.02.2020
Ludwika Tomala
Ludwika Tomala

Polish Idea for More Effective and Cheaper Swimming Pool Disinfection

Credit: VPPlant Credit: VPPlant

How to more efficiently control the amount of chlorine needed for swimming pool water disinfection and use water, electricity and heat more sparingly? Polish innovators have an idea.

Contrary to appearances, maintaining swimming pool hygiene is a difficult challenge. It includes many different activities associated with controlling the concentration of various pollutants in water and air. If a facility fails to perform these tasks properly, the Department of Health may decide to shut it down. Meanwhile, the concentration of harmful substances in pool water can change dynamically. It depends on the number of swimmers, temperature, air conditioning mode and pollutants already present in the water.

Since pool managers are not able to precisely control the dynamics of chemical reactions taking place in the pool, they incur excessive costs associated, for example, with water exchange, energy needed to purify water and air, and maintaining air humidity standards. If, on the other hand, there were systems in pools that would enable real-time determination of actual disinfection needs, facilities could save a lot.

The Polish company Virtual Power Plant (VPPlant) - also thanks to funds from the National Centre for Research and Development – is developing THM Inspector system that will help more effectively disinfect swimming pools and support the work of technical staff.

‘We expect that by using our system, we can achieve 15-30 percent savings on utility costs: electricity, heat and water', says VPPlant CEO Grzegorz Nowaczewski.

For example, sodium hypochlorite is often used in swimming pools as water disinfectant (swimming pools owe their characteristic smell to chlorine reactions). But chlorine cannot be added freely to water, including because free chlorine reacts with organic matter (e.g. pollutants in the pool) and produces harmful by-products - trihalomethanes (THM). The Polish company has an idea for precisely controlling the concentration of these compounds in water and predicting when their concentration will change.

In their project, the innovators combine knowledge from such areas as energy efficiency, dynamics of chemical reactions and operational safety of complex, large-volume buildings. Thanks to their ideas, it will be possible to prepare new algorithms controlling ventilation and heating, water exchange, intensity of the water treatment process, filtering and filter rinsing for several hundred indoor pools in Poland and later also abroad.

Dr. Aneta Pobudkowska-Mirecka, a professor at the Warsaw University to Technology, the project's scientific director ('Intelligent HVAC OPTIMIZER as a function of THM creation potential in indoor pools (OHT)'), notes that a problem was that water treatment technology and ventilation technology in swimming pools have separate control algorithms. Polish researchers have determined that the operation of these technologies can be combined and coordinated.

Engineers proposed a system coordinating the operation of water treatment technologies in connection with ventilation and heating systems. 'The expert system developed in the research project takes into account day and night operation mode, changes in indoor and outdoor air parameters, user load, maintaining appropriate physicochemical and microbiological parameters of the pool water and the potential for chlorine disinfection by-products', emphasises Pobudkowska-Mirecka.

Grzegorz Nowaczewski sums up: "We have over 1,700 swimming pools in the country, the vast majority of the large ones are co-financed from public funds, including communal funds. The state spends over PLN 1 million per year for each such large pool'. In his opinion, using the system in swimming pools will allow for significant savings. The system has already been installed in several swimming pools, including the ICDS in Łomianki (Mazowieckie), Aquapark Fala in Łódź and Atlantis in Poznań.

'We maximize the use of existing technical infrastructure, introduce new algorithms, measuring equipment and, together with people responsible for the daily operation of the swimming pools we make using these facilities truly healthy', concludes Grzegorz Nowaczewski.

The project is co-financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under the Fast Track programme.

PAP - Science in Poland, Ludwika Tomala

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