The new REFRESH European project has developed PVC and polyester containers to transport fresh drinking water to islands or coastal areas.
The new system involves waterbags, made from plastic materials, which are transported using a tugboat. The system is 50-75% cheaper per cubic metre compared to tankers, as well as being more environmentally friendly, says Aimplas, the Spanish technology institute which led the project.
The floating container is made from a polyester fabric with PVC coating.
“The modular design system of the REFRESH containers allows us to vary the capacity, make multiple downloads and maintain the integrity of the rest of the load if one of the modules gets damaged,” says project manager Vicent Martínez.
The project created a prototype container which measures 20m in length and 4m in diameter and can contain 200m³ of water. Last November it was pulled 16 nautical miles from Crete to the Gulf of Souda. The tugboat reached a speed of six knots and the trip took three hours.
Aimplas says the trip demonstrates the technical viability of floating flexible containers and is now asking the European Commission for a second project - REFFRESH XXL. The new project will develop a container ten times bigger to exploit this transport system on a commercial scale.
Aimplas' technology partners in the project were Sedó (Spain), D'Appolonia (Italy), Ziplast (Italy), Spanopoulos (Greece) and Safibra (the Czech Republic).