Vibes Awards 2018

05 September 2018

By John Cove

Vibes Seba 2018 Finalist Black TextBusinesses in Scotland are taking significant steps to improve or reduce their impact on the environment, often saving money in the process. The VIBES - Scottish Environment Business Awards are held each year to recognise and showcase best practice, and we are really pleased to announce that we are finalists in this year’s awards, under the Innovation category.

The VIBES - Scottish Environment Business Awards are a partnership between the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), The Scottish GovernmentEnergy Saving TrustHighland & Islands EnterpriseScottish EnterpriseScottish WaterZero Waste Scotland and the 20:20 Climate Group.

The awards aim to encourage the efficient use of resources, enhance the competitiveness of businesses, improve environmental performance and support the wider goals of sustainable development, including social benefits through community and staff involvement.

Key to our application was our work in Botswana, providing Chlorine Dioxide water treatment solutions to 40 rural villages.  Water in these villages remained untreated due to high levels of minerals naturally found in the water, which would lead to toxic by-products if traditional chlorine were to be added to the water. Due to desertification in Botswana, water can be pumped for up to 80 miles from a Borehole to the village where there is no mains electricity. Previous water treatment programs had failed partly due to theft of diesel generators and solar panels used for the equipment.

The project presented enormous technical, commercial and logistical challenges, in terms of developing a water treatment solution at an acceptable price point, in a very different market environment.

We set about engaging with technical experts in the field in order to solve the water treatment problems presented. Using the Raspberry Pi computing platform, and pumping technology borrowed from inkjet printers, we were able to develop an ultra-low power dosing pump technology that was capable of being remotely monitored by GSM data connections that are widely available throughout Africa.

We were also able to identify and adapt a technology that had been developed for Smart Water Grids in large cities that would generate small amounts of electricity from the flow of water in the pipe itself. Using this pico-hydro technology instead of solar panels or generators meant that there would be no value in stealing the power source for the water treatment plant.

The system has now been installed and is fully operational, providing safe, clean drinking water to more than 40 villages in rural Botswana.  Where previous systems have failed due to the theft or failure of the power source, the unique power generation process in the Scotmas chlorine dioxide generator is proving to be a sustainable, long term solution.

Our judging visit took place earlier this week and we await the outcome at the awards ceremony in Glasgow on November 14!