Power company helps develop solutions to make sediment useful
DEM, the company operating hydroelectric power stations on the Drava river, and its partners have completed a three-year project to evaluate and remediate sediments so they can be used in the construction sector. The solutions are to benefit power plants worldwide.
Co-financed by the national science and innovation agency, the project READY4USE also involved the National Building and Civil Engineering Institute and the Ljubljana Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology.
DEM is Slovenia's largest producer of electricity from renewable sources. Faced with the challenge of sedimentation in the Drava, the company launched the project to find sustainable solutions for dealing with the accumulated sediments.
By developing and testing new processes for removing heavy metals from sediments, the project partners have developed building materials based on the use of these sediments.
The most important contribution of the project is the development of innovative processes for sediment remediation using environmentally friendly surface active compounds and the creation of optimal mixtures for the production of bricks and alkali-activated materials, which are also used in construction.
The solutions will benefit not only hydro power plant operators in Slovenia, but operators worldwide, DEM said on 4 October. In addition, the project analysed the environmental aspects of all the relevant processes and products using life cycle analyses, which made the project interdisciplinary and enabled sustainable management of sediments.
"The project is important because it addressed the challenge of sedimentation, which affects the safety of hydro power plants, the generation of electricity, the ability to retain high waters, the supply of water for irrigation and the maintenance of the ecological potential of reservoirs," DEM director general Damjan Seme said.
Huge amounts of sediments are one of the challenges that Slovenia will have to deal with in the wake of the devastating August floods.