Population growth and climate change are exerting an increased pressure on food, water and energy supplies. In addressing consequential problems, the tendency is to turn to above-ground solutions, such as building freshwater reservoirs or installing solar panels. The subsurface, in contrast, offers time, space and reactivity, and thus often more robust, effective, sustainable and cost-efficient solutions. This is why hydrogeology is a key expertise at KWR, where we make use of the subsurface in multiple ways to promote a sustainable provision of food, water and energy.
Well management and technology
The subsurface is being used more often and more intensively for the storage, recovery and extraction of water and thermal energy. Wells form the gateway to the subsurface for these activities. In close collaboration with drilling, water and energy companies, we focus on the development of multifaceted, robust and reliable well designs, which foster the efficient and sustainable use of the subsurface. Examples of innovative well configurations include Horizontal Directional Drilled Wells (HDDWs), Multiple Partially Penetrating Wells (MPPWs), and Expanded Diameter Gravel Wells (EDGWs). KWR also researches the causes of well clogging and how it can be remedied and prevented. This allows us to reduce risks and failure probabilities by optimising the design and operational management of wells and wellfields.
|Martin van der Schans
Expert Well management and technology
Freshwater supply in coastal areas
Freshwater supplies in urban coastal areas are heavily subject to salinisation caused by rising sea levels, land subsidence and over-exploitation of available freshwater aquifers. But for agriculture, industry and drinking water production in these areas, a constant access to sufficient freshwater is vital. Together with contractors, public authorities and Water Authorities – as well as, for example. horticulturalists– KWR develops concepts to achieve self-sufficiency at local and regional scales, and to ensure the availability of sufficient supplies of freshwater, even during prolonged periods of drought. We develop several concepts, from idea to pilot and to ultimate implementation. Examples include local subsurface water storage systems like ASR-Coastal, Freshmaker and Urban Waterbuffer, in which groundwater reserves are replenished in times of water surpluses, after which the water can be efficiently recovered when needed. This involves not only the use of rainwater and surface water, but we also study the possibilities of reusing wastewater, as in Dinteloord, or of using brackish groundwater with for example the Freshkeeper. Within COASTAR these concepts are also being implemented at a regional scale, both in the Netherlands and internationally.
Expert Freshwater supply in coastal areas
Subsurface utilisation for sustainable water production
There are various reasons for the insufficient access to clean (drinking) water seen across the world, including the occurrence of periods of prolonged drought and the structural over-exploitation of naturally available water supplies. The pressure on clean water resources resulting from climate change, population growth and anthropogenic pollution is expected to continue growing. In collaboration with drinking water utilities, KWR develops knowledge and techniques aimed at using the subsurface in a sustainable, cost-efficient and energy-efficient manner for the production of sufficient and clean drinking water. For instance, we implement the subsurface storage and transport of water (MAR, ASR and ASTR) as means of redressing temporary or spatial imbalances in water demand and supply, as in Dinteloord. The subsurface also has the potential of improving the quality of the water (subsurface treatment). In this context, we study subsurface chemical and biological processes, and develop measures that stimulate or, if desired, supress these processes during infiltration or abstraction activities. One good example of this is subsurface iron-removal, which offers possible savings to above-ground treatment plants.
|Bas van der Grift
Expert Benutting van de ondergrond voor duurzame waterproductie
Subsurface storage and production of (geo)thermal energy
Targets are being set worldwide to cut the use of fossil fuels and their associated emissions of greenhouse gases. There is lots of room for progress in the built environment, where about 40 percent of total energy consumption involves the control of temperature, that is, satisfying the demand for heating and cooling. This is the reason behind KWR’s development and optimisation of technologies that use the subsurface in a sustainable manner for the storage, recovery and extraction of thermal energy. Examples of these subsurface techniques include: Borehole Thermal Energy Storage (BTES) systems, Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage (ATES) systems, High Temperature Storage (HTO) systems, and (geo)thermal energy. Within these techniques, we research advanced well configurations and optimise the operational management and efficiency of individual and clustered subsurface thermal energy systems. Our researchers also analyse the potential negative impacts on the subsurface, so that these can be duly taken into consideration. The above-mentioned techniques are already operational or are currently subject to ongoing research, as in the cases of subsurface heat storage at the Koppert Cress pilot location or of the Solar Power to the People project. Moreover, we work on the possible implementation of subsurface heat storage in the linkage with heat networks and geothermal energy, like within the EU’s HEATSTORE project and the Dutch WINDOW consortium.