It is one of the givens of modern urban life to be able to turn on a tap and instantly receive water. Yet the systems that bring running water into our homes and workplaces are far from efficient. Indeed, the World Bank has estimated the cost of lost water from supply systems worldwide to be about US$15 billion per year. Building better infrastructure for this critical resource is also a key concern locally, with the Hong Kong government instituting its Total Water Management (2008) and Water Intelligent Network (2015) policies and committing HK$23 billion to rehabilitate and replace the city’s water supply infrastructure.
Now a HKUST research team led by Prof Mohamed Ghidaoui, Chair Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is set to contribute innovative solutions to this crucial issue after receiving funding of HK$33.225 million for his “Smart Urban Water Supply Systems (Smart UWSS)” project proposal in the fifth round of the Research Grants Council’s Theme-based Research Scheme. The scheme is highly selective and an award indicative of research excellence.
Prof Ghidaoui’s research, awarded under the theme of Developing a Sustainable Environment, encompasses a comprehensive program involving theoretical, laboratory and field studies to develop a new diagnostic paradigm for water supply network monitoring and fault detection. The resulting data will be processed with advanced transient-based inverse methods and algorithms to pinpoint and characterize leaks, blockages and weak pipes.
The research team comprises internationally recognized and cross-disciplinary members and will work collaboratively with the Hong Kong government’s Water Supplies Department. The findings are expected to enable timely detection of urban water supply system defects and proactive mitigation measures, leading to water conservation and contributing to sustainable living in the city.
A total of five projects out of 28 applications across institutions in Hong Kong were granted funding in this round of the Theme-based Research Scheme. School of Engineering faculty received funding for two. The second project, led by Prof Charles W W Ng, Chair Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, also received HK$33.225 million to investigate slope stability and debris flow mechanisms (see "Unearthing the Cleverness of Soil"