June 17, 2022 #ChileSustentable

10 innovations made in Chile to face the drought

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In recent years Chile has witnessed how climate change has impacted its ecosystems and water conditions from the far north to Antarctica. With a water deficit that exceeds 60%, Chile is going through the deepest and longest drought in its history, with the area between the regions of Atacama and La Araucanía being the most affected. But in the face of the problem, innovations are emerging from the talent, creativity and resilience of Chileans who are looking for solutions to create a better future. These are some of those that aim to combat the water crisis from the distribution of the resource, management and even its creation.

Fog catchers: from Chile to the world

Fog catchers are ingenious constructions made up of two six-meter high eucalyptus poles at the ends and a polyethylene greenhouse mesh in the center, which can be found on the coastal edges of northern Chile and are solving the desert's most serious problem: water scarcity, by capturing the desert fog. The late Chilean physicist Carlos Espinosa invented what is recognized as the world's first fog-catcher model, earning the title of "the professor who caught the clouds". Chile is considered the pioneer in both the invention and implementation of this technology. Since its inception in the 1960s, it has been developed and perfected based on the patent obtained by Espinosa, which he himself promoted for its free dissemination through UNESCO. Today this technology has been imitated in many other Latin American countries and has also been transferred to various countries such as Spain, Croatia, South Africa, Namibia, Oman and Yemen.

Within Chile, the first network of water harvesters and recyclers in Chile, "A stop in the desert", located in Ovalle, Coquimbo region, stands out today. Through 28 fog catchers located in the Cerro Grande Ecological Reserve, it manages to harvest an average of 1,537 liters of water per day, equivalent to almost 600,000 liters per year, representing one of the best fog harvesting results in the Southern Cone.


FreshWater Solutions: turning air into purified water

This venture transforms air into drinking water to curb drought and to reach remote communities that do not have this supply, generating 28 liters of purified water per day. How? The FreshWater system, created by Héctor Pino, accelerates the natural water cycle by capturing the microparticles of water that are suspended in the relative humidity, to then form a cloud and make it rain, obtaining pristine water that subsequently passes through a process of filtering, purification and sterilization, obtaining high quality purified water, unlimited and without expiration in time. The grace is that it is also a water without chemicals, without preservatives, without fluorine and without chlorine.


Kilimo: against water scarcity in agricultureWhenand how much to irrigate? This is the question answered by Jairo Trad, Tatiana Malvasio, Rodrigo Tissera and Toni Abdala, when they founded this technological platform that uses climate and satellite data to provide recommendations to each farmer to improve irrigation yields by up to 30%. The climatic information is obtained from satellites and its software is integrated to the tools that farmers have in their fields. The farmer accesses the platform through a mobile and web application and receives weekly recommendations based on the real demand of each field, which is updated daily. In addition, they are accompanied throughout the season by an agronomist. Their goal this year is to reach 400 clients in Chile, Peru, Mexico and Argentina, countries in which they have operations.


Capta Hydro: monitoring and automation in water distribution

Surface water, which currently irrigates more than 160 million hectares worldwide, is distributed mainly through irrigation canals. However, water losses are between 25-50%, due to leaks in earthen canals, theft, operational errors and inefficiencies generated by delivery according to availability and not according to need. For this reason, the Chileans Benjamín Lagos, Gastón Dussaillant and Emilio de La Jara detected that there was a great need to improve the distribution of this water, and came to the conclusion that one of the best ways to do so is through the implementation of software and hardwares for flow telemetry and automation of floodgates in rivers, reservoirs and canal networks. This is how Capta Hydro was born: a technology with which they achieve a management and distribution of surface and groundwater resources that improves efficiency, accuracy, transparency and regulatory compliance of the distribution.


Inti-Tech: solar panel cleaning without water

Sandstorms endanger the efficiency of solar panels and cleaning them can take up to three months, in addition to wasting more than 22 billion liters of water worldwide. That is why Inti-Tech, a Chilean startup, developed by engineers from the Catholic University and led by Nicolás Correa, created robots that clean solar panels of a complete plant in just five minutes and without using a drop of water. The initiative seeks to address the problems derived from the large amount of particulate matter in northern Chile, which leads solar photovoltaic plants to reduce their efficiency by up to 40% due to this problem.


Khreo: Artificial intelligence to save water in mining

Mining is an industry that so far consumes a large amount of water in its processes for the extraction and recovery of different minerals. A pending challenge for a mining country like Chile is to rationalize its use in this industry. That is why the startup Konatec, with Leopoldo Gutiérrez at the head of a group of researchers from the Universidad de Concepción, created Khreo, a technology based on artificial intelligence that allows measuring in real time the flow and deformation of mining minerals so that only the necessary water is consumed in their processes. This gives them the necessary tools to provide recommendations to the mining companies to optimize copper recovery and save water and even energy.


Justwe! Water & Energy: optimizing water consumption in companies and households

The couple, comprising the civil engineer Pedro Bravo and the communicator and digital marketing expert Marcela Gaete, developed an automatic control platform to manage water in companies and homes, managed from an application that can be downloaded to the cell phone and that saves between 15% and 60% of water and energy. All this, thanks to a robotic device that intervenes in water and energy connections, controlling flow, pressure and consumption, in order to monitor, establish controls, act and report anomalies. Monitoring consumption in one or more branches; controlling shower times and inlet pressure to the network; managing water flows and checking power to avoid fines for overconsumption of electricity are some of the things it can do. All of them can be very useful for large institutions and for the home it offers the same applications adapted for families, seeking to reduce both electricity and water bills and, in addition, to avoid wasting this increasingly scarce resource.


Remote Waters: drinking water in every corner of the world

Pablo Cassorla devised a water purification system that is inexpensive to operate and quick to install for communities with limited access to potable water. The system consists of a machine that extracts contaminated water from sources such as the sea, wells, lakes or rivers, which it filters through a membrane. The machines are based on reverse osmosis desalination, a technology that can be used to filter other contaminants, in addition to salts, such as boron, arsenic or heavy metals such as lead, leaving the water ready for human consumption. To date, it has seven projects in the regions of Coquimbo, Valparaíso, Metropolitan and Maule and is seeking to expand its operations to other countries.


Nilus Ice Stupa Project: artificial glaciers to increase the efficiency of water resourcesThisChilean pilot project, developed in the Cajón del Maipo and led by Sebastián Goldschmidt, seeks to create a park of Ice-Stupas (or glacier grafts), to freeze wasted water in times of abundance and thus reserve fresh water in solid form for times of scarcity. The Nilus project takes advantage of the freezing temperatures of high altitudes and mountain peaks to transform water into ice. Water is captured from runoff and driven downhill, where it freezes through a process of temperature differences in areas with large thermal variations between day and night. The team of Chilean researchers in charge of this pilot project estimates that with the formation of 50 "stupas" or artificial glaciers -which are developed through artificial intelligence and algorithms-, the goal of accumulating 100 million liters of water in ice will be reached, which would serve to supply more or less a community of 100,000 people for three months.


Atacama Desalination Plant: awarded in the Global Water Awards 2022

The state-owned desalination plant located in the municipality of Caldera, in the Atacama Region, was awarded this month as the best desalination plant of the year at the "Global Water Awards 2022". The recognition considers the ecological and sustainable nature of the facilities, which operate since December 2021 with the capacity to desalinate 1,200 liters of seawater per second, to supply drinking water to more than 200,000 people in the municipalities of Caldera, Chañaral, Copiapó and Tierra Amarilla.

Today, thanks to this desalination plant, the Atacama region, which was at permanent risk of running out of water, is the only region in Chile that has guaranteed its water for the next 40 years. Not only is it the most modern desalination plant in Chile, but it has also incorporated many technological advances in energy efficiency and is also environmentally friendly.





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