Project Launch

Welcome to iFOS

 The rapid evolution of seawater desalination is evident in the recent years. Nevertheless, the desalination industry is currently coming to terms with the need for process improvement due to the requirements for lower environmental impact and costs. Therefore, resource efficient, low-impact seawater desalination in a pressing need.

iFOS acknowledges the need for resource-saving and low-waste desalination and aspires to offer an innovative solution to offset the impacts associated with the production of desalinated water.  IFOS introduces the concept of forecasting in desalination plant optimisation. Particularly, the project will deliver satellite assisted, short term forecasts for the key environmental parameters of the coastal zone.

One of the basic threats for the desalination industry in the coastal environment is the proliferation of microscopic algae in seawater known as algal blooms. Algal blooms are an emerging operational threat for the coast-based desalination plants as they impact the plants in two ways. On the one hand,  a small proportion of algae may produce several noxious or toxic compounds, but algal blooms create significant treatment challenges to ensure the removal of algal toxins from seawater. Regardless of the potential of toxicity, taste and odour compounds that may be produced, reduce water quality, as well. On the other hand, algal blooms increase the operational difficulties due to elevated suspended solids and organic content resulting from algal biomass in seawater.

iFOS aims to provide a new operational service that will generate early warnings tailored to the needs of the seawater desalination industry based in coastal waters. The early warnings will disseminate readily interpretable information to enable operators to act promptly in a probable shift in the regime of the coastal environment.

iFOS will build a forecast-based water information system for coastal waters in an operational environment. Forecasts will be produced through the operational simulation of (a) three-dimensional, process-based models of coastal hydrodynamics and (b) machine learning models of water quality. Simulations will be performed daily and, thereby, the water information system will be offering (a) daily concentration maps of key water quality parameters (chlorophyll-a, turbidity, natural organic matter, total dissolved solids, etc.) for each day of a ten-day forecast period and (b) visualizations of all available sources of water quality monitoring (satellite-based and in-situ). In addition, an operational Early Warning System (EWS) for seawater desalination plants will be coupled with the water information system. The EWS will employ forecasted raw seawater quality to issue readily interpretable early warnings regarding algal bloom events or increased turbidity events.

In principle, iFOS releases an innovative service through the realization of cross-cutting concepts related to advanced modeling, satellite-derived water quality and ICT. Thus, innovation is present in all its components, providing:

  • Fully automated operational models of coastal hydrodynamics and water quality, using cloud computing services
  • Satellite data operational assimilation to improve the predictive power of forecasts
  • Machine-learning algorithms to assist process optimization
    Complete integration into the customer’s existing business processes and processing chains using ICT.

The case study includes a seawater desalination plant in Greece, at the Saronic Gulf designed and operated by Sychem for MOTOR OIL HELLAS – Corinth Refineries, to produce potable and demineralized water. The study area covers the Saronic Gulf , focusing on the Northwest section of the Gulf, close to Corinth Canal, at the region of Agioi Theodoroi, where the desalination plant of the end-user is located.

EMVIS has a strong competence in the development of similar forecast-based water information systems and already offers forecasting services to the water industry through a fully operational platform. Yet, its experience is related to inland waters. EMVIS aims to harvest the opportunity offered by Innovation Norway and build upon its experience and make the transition from inland to coastal waters.

iFOS is managed by EMVIS S.A., an expert consultant in water resources and environmental management, based in Athens, Greece.  EMVIS’ experience from developing operational platforms such as Space-O and PrimeWater will now be used to expand the know-how from inland to coastal waters. EMVIS encourages the involvement of desalination plant end-users, i.e., Sychem, from the early stages of the project so that the operational service acknowledges the everyday challenges in the operation of the seawater desalination plants.  The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and SINTEF are joining efforts to evaluate the quality of the produced services.