Neoenergia develops innovative technology to automate hydrological monitoring of rivers


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Neoenergia has developed pioneering equipment in Brazil to automate hydrological monitoring of dams and rivers in the areas where its hydroelectric plantsare located, giving more safety and agility to field activities. Through a Research and Development (R&D) project initiated in 2017, two vessels were created with equipment that makes the flow and sedimentation measurement, in addition to the analysis of water quality, without the need for human intervention. The initiative will yield the development of state-of-the-art technologies, including the nationalization of georeferencing technology at a cost ten times lower than in the market.

These studies should be carried out according to the regulations of the National Electric Energy Agency (ANEEL) and are essential for predicting the volume and conditions of water that will reach the reservoirs of hydroelectric plants, which influences the use of resources for power generation. "The new equipment has important advantages in improving the quality of hydrological monitoring work every day. In addition, with automation, we have increased the safety of our employees, who do not need to enter the rivers to perform the measurements with maximum reliability", says the Superintendent of Operations and Hydraulic Engineering of Neoenergia, José Paulo Werberich.

In partnership with the Federal University of Juiz de Fora (UFJF) and other institutions, a vessel was created with equipment that measures the flow and water quality. To give more agility, reliability and practicality to this work, a microscope was also developed that allows the analysis of most particles present in water, reducing the need for evaluations in the laboratory. Another vessel to evaluate the transport of sediment in rivers was produced from the Institute of Systems and Computer Engineering, Technology and Science (Inesc TEC), Portugal.

The three products will be used in field measurements, which are made quarterly. The prototypes will be tested in 2021 at the Itapebi Hydroelectric PowerPlant, located on the Jequitinhonha River, between Minas Gerais and Bahia. They can then be used in the company's other water generation assets – Baguari, Baixo Iguaçu, Belo Monte, Corumbá, Dardanelles and Teles Pires.

Due to automation, the analysis can be done reliably even in periods of heavy rain or drought. "An equipment with this level of automation did not yet exist in the Brazilian market, so we made the decision to develop it in the R&D project. The products developed allow us to do that," explains Werberich.

The developed vessels are moved to propellers, which are at the top, as happens in drones, for example, which allows the use of the model in various activities beyond hydrological monitoring. Researchers working in partnership with Neoenergia in the project also envision the possibility of expanding the use of products beyond hydroelectric plants, such as insecticide spraying actions against the Aedes aegypti mosquito in streams, demonstrating social gains with our R&D activities.

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