In colder climates we will encounter many challenges, particularly those relating to water management, water supply and wastewater treatment. For example, the treatment processes will go slower and we therefore have to dimension our plants for winter conditions that require more space and volume than during summer periods.
"In countries with cold climates, we have to expect a lot more precipitation during a shorter period and much more often. Among other things, this will affect the colour of the raw water. Transport systems and treatment plants must be dimensioned with these changes in mind," says NMBU professor Harsha Ratnaweera.
The European Water Association (EWA) has noted this requirement for a number of years. Harsha Ratnaweera is a member of the EWA steering committee and represents Norway. They have now received funding from the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SIU) to focus on water and wastewater technology in the project "WaterMagic".
Teaching has to change
Ratnaweera has observed that these issues have not been adequately covered in course plans and textbooks in Norway and other relevant countries. At the same time, Harsha knew that colleagues at universities in other countries are researching solutions that are useful to learn from.
The professor has now received funding to upgrade the teaching courses within the area of water. This was due to, among other things, researchers who are involved and interested in teaching within water and wastewater technology in colder climates having prepared a joint application. The goal is to prepare teaching materials based on best practices in seven universities from six countries.
Going out in the world to gain experience
An important part of the project is that students studying water and wastewater technology at NMBU are able to participate in intensive courses in China, Japan, USA, Canada, South Korea, as well as at the University Centre in Svalbard, together with students from the other six universities.
"The students will also contribute by evaluating the new teaching materials. In this way, we build up a network between teachers and students. The project will also motivate students to become involved in innovation in companies in their countries that is focussed on conditions in colder climates," Ratnaweera says.
The student association, AquariÅS, will coordinate student involvement in the project.
Technology and solutions that students will learn more about include, for example, how Chinese researchers work with using special enzymes to speed up micro-organisms in winter, or how an American research group is working on a pretreatment process for removing humus in water.
NMBU is collaborating with the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) on this project. An international conference has already been planned to be held inSvalbard from 24-27 June 2016.
Also participating in the project are researchers from three universities that are among the best in the world in wastewater treatment: University of British Columbia (Canada), University of Hokkaido (Japan) and Seoul National University in South Korea.