Research

Research and development activities are carried out in the different Group business areas. The primary research subjects concern technological innovation, and the activities are often conducted in synergy with research institutions and higher-education institutions in the science fields (see also Institutions and the Company). The following list summarises some of the main projects under way.

Acea Distribuzione:

  • The Smart Grid project, involving development of innovative solutions for integration of distributed generation and improvement in service continuity - The company completed the stage of in-field installation in 2013, and in 2014 both initiatedand completed the monitoring stage.
  • The Smart Network Management System (SnMS) project – This project involves technological evolution in management ofthe electrical distribution network, through the sub-project Smart Grid Intelligence,for introduction of technologies of data examination and integration. The new technologies will be applied for improved monitoring and analysis of the medium and low-voltage distribution network, permitting real-time identification of weak points in thenetworks, and thus direction of interventions and prediction of service-interruption events.
  • The Resilience Enhancement of a Metropolitan Area (RoMA) project, developed by Acea Distribuzione with other partners, for improvement in the capacity of “city” systems to react to emerging situations of critical environmental conditions (see indepth box in the section Institutions and the company).
  • Experimental application of “biodegradable oil in power transformers” – In 2014,Acea Distribuzione, in cooperation with other partners,108 initiated experimentation in the use of natural, biodegradable oil as an insulation liquid for power transformers, in place of mineral oil. The organic character of the oil ensures that in the case of spills,the pollutant effect is almost nil. The high temperature of spontaneous combustion for such oils also provides important reductions in fire risks. In 2015, the project will begin experimentation with six transformers for secondary substations, to test the behaviourof the oil over time.

Acea Ato 2:

  • In 2014, Acea Ato 2 continued activity for the analysis of the water network and the identification and repair of losses. This work is conducted in cooperation with the company LaboratoRI: the most important interventions concerned the municipality
    of Velletri. The company also launched activities for redefining and checking the boundaries of the Rome and Province of Rome water districts, in order to supplement the water system management schemes and systemize the water balances.
    In 2014, the company completed redefinition of 40 water districts in Rome, 26 in the municipalities of the North Network, and 55 in the municipalities of the South Network.
  • In the area of treatment processes for wastewater, the company conducted numerous studies with objectives for: application of advanced “compact” technologies for updating of large wastewater treatment plants; evaluation of performance and critical conditions in the tertiary treatment systems currently in use (filtration, disinfection); definition of methods for monitoring impacts of odours, using “electronic noses” and mathematical simulation models; analysis of improved technological solutions for treatment of odorous emissions from the sludge production lines (see also Table 95).

Acea Ato 5:

  • The company continued research into losses from the networks. Activities in 2014 included substitution of around 37 kilometres of water mains and over 250 interventions for the activities of leak detection.

A.R.I.A.:

  • The company is currently considering a project for changes in the process of NOx capture at the San Vittore del Lazio waste-to-energy plant, which would permit a reduction in the use of ammonia solutions and methane (see the report section Air emissions).

LaboratoRI:

  • The company continued its consulting work for the management and optimisation of Membrane Bioreactor (MBR)-Inverse Osmosis treatment plant for pulper extraction water, for the Terni waste-to-energy plant. 
  • Continuing from 2013, the company conducted functional testing of drinking water treatment plants for Acea Ato 5, as well as the study of instability in water supplies and precipitation phenomena in water systems for new communities, in particular: Arce, Ceprano, Col Felice, Fontana Liri and Broccostella;
  • For Acea Produzione, the company provided consultancy on the modernisation and renovation of the cogeneration plant at Tor di Valle.

Apart from the above development of research studies and innovation, the Group also developed cooperative initiatives with the scientific community. Among these:

  • Surface water bodies of the Tiber and Aniene rivers – Further research on correlation between biological indices and concentration of nutrients (with University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’); 
  • New Pertuso aqueduct – Pre-project monitoring plan for environmental components, for adherence to legislative requirement on Evaluation of environmental impact (VIA) (University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’);
  • Peschiera springs – Development of accelerometric and micro-accelerometric networks for monitoring of potential vibration events in the system (Ceri Research Centre).

Research activities in the water area were conducted in further cooperative projects involving LaboratoRI and Acea Ato 2.
The main initiatives in this area are summarised in Table 95.

108 The project partners are Enel Distribuzione, Terna, the power-transformer manufacturing companies and the supplier companies for the oil used.

TABLE 95- PRNCIPLE JOINT RESEARCH ACTIVITIES CONDUCTED BY LABORATORI AND ACEA ATO 2

PROJECT TITLE (YEAR)DESCRIPTION
SOURCES AND QUALITY OF DRINKING WATER
Protected areas (2014) The activities under way are for preparation of technical proposals for the protected areas of the water sources: Le Capore, Ceraso, Cerreto, Valga delle Rosce, Ronci, and the Acqua Vergine aquifer; and for improved delineation of the areas of protection for the Salone, Torre Angela, Pantano Borghese and Finocchio plants.
Definition of interventions for optimising the distribution network: Task force Velletri (2014) The aim is to address the water emergencies experienced by the municipality of Velletri. Activities for optimisation and remediation of the network were conducted, consisting of topographic mapping; measurement campaigns for pressure and flow; analysis of the network and consumers active. The final objectives of these actions are for water balancing, mathematical modelling, and campaigns for research of losses.
Optimisation and testing of the treatment process function for drinking water – plants in ATO 2 (2014) The objectives are: optimisation, testing of performance, and functional testing of 31 drinking-water treatment plants installed in ATO 2, for the removal of arsenic, fluoride and other contaminants (aluminium, manganese, iron); definition of specific new plants to be construction; start-up of new plants..
WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANTS
Advanced treatment in large waste-water plants (2014) Studies were conducted on the feasibility of applying advanced “compact” technologies for updating of the large City of Rome wastewater treatment plants, in view of the limited capacities for increasing volumetric capacities. The analyses concerned: biological aerated filters (BAF) systems; processes for treatment of surface sewage (supernatants) with digestion of sludges; phosphorous removal; final filtration).
Odorous emission in wastewater treatment plants (2014) The activities involve several lines of research:
  • Experimental application, evaluation and definition of methodologies of olfactory impact through continuous measurement by “electronic noses”;
  • Application of mathematical simulation models of the spillover of odorous compounds in treatment plants;
  • Methodological experimentation for control of odorous compounds in cooperation with Enea
  • Identification of improved technical solutions for treatment of odorous emissions from the sludge line, refereeing to different plant dimensions (small, medium, large).
SEWER NETWORKS
Updating of inflow and outflow models for sewerage basins (model urban drainage project - 2004-2013;  updating of monitoring in the Environmental Control Room - 2014) Work focuses on the integrated analysis of the function of the Rome sewerage system, through instruments for modelling the drainage system that can simulate the function under different conditions, in particular for evaluating the response under significant rainfall events. The activities in 2014 concentrated on research and updating of the modelling, in particular where the knowledge level is less advanced (COBIS wastewater treatment plant). The results were used for improved structuring of the monitoring system in the Environmental Control Room.