Water Meters that Count Every Drop

A large portion of the world’s drinking water just seeps away into the ground due to leaks. Smart grids, equipped with magnetic-inductive flow sensors, promptly report such leakage to the operator. In order to ensure that the meters function reliably and with high precision, their electronic components are encapsulated with a silicone gel.

Dr. Philipp Müller (r.) from WACKER Applications Technology and lab technician Tatjana Bogatyreva test the inherent tack of WACKER SilGel®.

You would think there was a surplus of water on our planet. After all, it covers three quarters of the Earth’s surface. However, fresh water only accounts for 2.5 percent of the total reserves and, of this, only a very small proportion – significantly less than one percent – is accessible to people and can be used. This is estimated at 100,000 to 200,000 cubic kilometers. Fresh water is thus a precious resource in many regions of the world. The United Nations expects that water shortages will affect two thirds of the world’s population by 2025 – climate change and population growth are making drinking water scarce.

Mankind withdraws some 4,000 cubic kilometers from fresh-water resources every year – and the trend is likely to continue. A bitter fact for anyone affected by water scarcity is that a large amount of this precious resource is wasted. “This is partly the result of the poor condition of the water infrastructure in large parts of the world. A lot of water is lost due to leakage before it reaches the end user,” says Jörn Gögge, an engineer who works in the quality department at Sensus GmbH Ludwigshafen. Sensus is one of the world’s leading suppliers of metrology products and systems that utilities can use to optimize their networks.

High Losses due to Leakage

According to a study by GrowingBlue, a US consortium of water experts, a large portion of the drinking water fed into water networks is lost solely due to leaks – from a dripping tap to a fault in a main line – though the amount differs greatly from country to country. In several developing countries, over 80 percent of water is lost due to leakage; the vast majority of the precious resource seeps away into the ground. A third of all countries have leakage rates of more than 40 percent; the average is 20 percent. Even in industrialized countries, losses can exceed this global average, as is the case in the UK and France, for example.

GrowingBlue estimates that leaks create additional global costs of up to $10 billion every year. The high personnel expenses incurred in finding and fixing leaks are the main contributor. The pumps’ increased energy demand is another noticeable factor, since the pumps have to convey all of the water, even that which is lost.