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2.1.01 Semi-centralised supply and disposal systems – dynamic solutions for China’s growing major cities

China’s cities are growing at a rapid rate: hoards of people are drawn to these overcrowded areas in search of work. The supply and disposal infrastructure is not designed to cope with this, and high pollution levels are the result. “Semi-centralised” concepts for water supplies and the treatment of waste and wastewater in rapidly growing urban areas are one solution to this: they are flexible and can be adapted to the population growth within cities.

With growth rates of up to 1,000 people a day, conventional centralised and above all sectoral-based supply and disposal strategies in urban areas are quickly hitting their limits. This problem is also evident in the People’s Republic of China: the rapidly expanding cities have outgrown the water supply, waste and wastewater treatment and spatial planning; the environmental problems are equally acute.

This is the area tackled by the project cluster “Semizentrale Ver- und Entsorgungssysteme für urbane Räume Chinas (semi-centralised supply and disposal systems for urban areas in China), which was led by the IWAR institute at the Technische Universität Darmstadt (Technical University Darmstadt) and ran from 2004 to 2010. “Semi-centralised” is still new in terms of spatial reference planes; it is a structure that extends beyond individual building units and is thus different from conventional centralised solutions. The aim of this: to enable flexible adaptation of supply and disposal units to the dynamic development of major cities, which in China are characterised by rapid growth and quickly changing structures.

An initial subproject in 2004/2005 tackled the structural and legal frameworks; subsequent projects investigated technical aspects in pilot facilities in both Germany and China, conducted public relations (EXPO 2010 in Shanghai) and produced a cost comparison between examples of a conventional and an integrated semi-centralised supply and disposal unit.

The aim of the second phase of the project (which ran from 2005 to 2008) was to develop supply and disposal systems that could actually achieve sustainable use of resources through an extensive water and energy cycle. This required integrated planning for the technical facilities. The project team developed a modular system for supply and disposal (water, wastewater, waste) that is flexible enough to adapt to local conditions and applies both technical and organisational synergies. The wastewater-related research involved investigations into greywater treatment and inner-city water recycling. Various procedures were examined in terms of the achievable drainage qualities, space and energy requirements and more.

“Semizentral” exhibition stand at EXPO 2010 in Shanghai

“Semizentral” exhibition stand at EXPO 2010 in Shanghai
“Semizentral” exhibition stand at EXPO 2010 in Shanghai

Integrated approach

Semi-centralised supply and disposal systems provide a consistently high level of quality for water infeed and drainage, a secure way to treat sewage sludge and waste and autonomously produce enough energy to run the systems independently. The concept combines the various technical infrastructure elements for water, wastewater and waste both with each other and within spatial planning. This needs specific legal, socio-cultural, ecological and economic considerations to be taken into account, as well as the administrative and technical structures and resources available locally. In order to promote synergies, it is important to make efficient use of interfaces between spatial and infrastructural planning and also between the individual technical modules. For example, this could be energy recovery through integrated treatment of waste and sewage sludge or reusing inner-city water to flush toilets (integrated infrastructure planning).

“Semizentral” exhibition stand at EXPO 2010 in Shanghai

A“Semizentral” exhibition stand at EXPO 2010 in Shanghai
“Semizentral” exhibition stand at EXPO 2010 in Shanghai

Proven technologies

The main aims of combining various modules to form one overall technical system are to achieve a material flow cycle and to reuse nutrients and energy found in wastewater and waste. Proven technology is used in these modules: aerobic and anaerobic wastewater treatment , fermentation and mechanical-biological waste treatment , energy and material recycling and water collection and treatment. Industrial-scale test facilities were also used to examine new technical challenges such as membrane cleaning via ultrasound and industrial greywater treatment using a variety of treatment procedures.

The semi-centralised approach has attracted immense global interest in the meantime; this was reflected at its appearance at EXPO 2010 in Shanghai, where it was presented within the “Urban Planet” pavilion as a forwardlooking infrastructure solution for cities of the future.

Project website http://semizentral.de/en/

Technische Universität Darmstadt
IWAR Institute

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Peter Cornel
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Martin Wagner
Dr.-Ing. Susanne Bieker
Petersenstraße 13
64287 Darmstadt, Germany
Tel.: +49(0) 61 51/16 27 48
Fax: +49(0) 61 51/16 37 58
E-mail: v.wawra@iwar.tu-darmstadt.de
Internet: www.iwar.bauing.tu-darmstadt.de
Funding reference: 02WD0398, 02WD0607, 02WD0998
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