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Transportation bags as a solution for water transport (Refresh)

Is there a more sustainable and eco-friendly approach to delivering fresh water supply?

We discovered the solution within the scope of an international scientific research initiative aimed at addressing the growing water scarcity in small Mediterranean coastal towns and islands. This led to the development of a versatile, recyclable, large-capacity plastic water barge with various applications.

  • a joint research project of 6 companies, research institutes and universities that took place from November 2010 to November 2012
  • partially funded by the European Community under the “7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development”
  • develop effective solutions for freshwater supply
  • fresh water transport from areas where there is a surplus in the event of a temporary outage of drinking water supply
  • current freshwater supply systems (water pipelines, desalination plants, tank vessels) all require permanent infrastructures, high investment costs, and high energy consumption with maintenance issues

The main goal of the Refresh project was to develop a cost effective and energy efficient solution for the transportation of fresh water by sea based on a modular, recyclable flexible plastic barge towed by tugboats. The primary application should have been supplying fresh water to Mediterranean coastal small cities and islands with less than 300,000 inhabitants, which are the one most affected by increasing water scarcity.

Benefits of the solution compared to conventional methods


Investment costs return in one year by adding 1EUR to each cubic meter of freshwater transported twice weekly in 2000 cubic meters water bags.

II. Environmentally FRIENDLY

Water barges are filled with drinking water from natural sources. There is no brine generation and no environmental contamination. This solution is also very energy-efficient.

III. Quicker provision of drinking water

The production, transport, and assembly of water bags at the place of operation usually takes 3-4 months. The exercise does not need a massive infrastructure.

How did we approach the solution?

Within the Refresh project, modular water barges for transportation of drinking water by sea were developed. SAFIBRA provided a special fiber optic sensor for this water barge, which monitors the tension of the material when being dragged on water and warns of excessive strains. it was embedded directly in a special patch of fabric which protects the sensor from excess bending when the water bag is folded.
In addition, a smart monitoring system was deployed to send a real time warning to the tugboat main deck in case of excess stress in the water bag, enabling the crew to take countermeasures.
During the final demonstration voyage of the water barge, the water transportation system was validated. Each unit was equipped with a radio antenna for communication with the tugboat. The monitoring units were to be switched on from the sleep mode independently by a multichannel remote control. Both data transmission (Wi-Fi @2.4 GHz) and remote control radio were commercially available with a range several hundred meters in free space.

Video from realized project

Why work with us?

Our company was invited to the project thanks to its professional expertise and experience in developing cost-effective measuring systems and providing optical fiber sensing solutions for water transport industry according to the client’s needs.

FBG technology is the most suitable solution where conventional procedures fail or are not viable because of routine operation.

Our water transportation systems monitor continuously and in real time, so you will receive error notifications immediately without unnecessary delays.

High durability and reliability are the characteristics of fiber optic technology.



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