Articles & Case Studies


Posted: Friday 27th March 2020

With the help of Veolia Water Technologies UK, facility managers at Brunel University have improved operations at the organisation’s animal research centre. Both companies worked together to replace an existing reverse osmosis (RO) system supported by a new remote monitoring service, improving working practices and reducing running costs.

Brunel University has partnered with water technology specialist, VWT UK to update the systems used in its animal research centre. After discussing the university’s needs and desired requirements, VWT UK’s technical team was able to provide an innovative solution that has improved performance and reduced costs; and it was installed within a day.

As part of its activities, Brunel University operates a number of research programs, including a facility that analyses zebrafish. Unlike other animals, zebrafish’s embryos are nearly transparent, which allows researchers to examine them more easily. As such, zebrafish have become an important model organism for the study of organ function and drug discovery. At Brunel University, the fish are used to gain insights into the fundamental biology of non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs. To best preserve them, the fish are kept in specially formulated chambers, which require a constant water supply. As a result, any downtime can cause serious issues and affect the viability of the fish and in turn, the research.

The university’s previous water solution was unreliable, slow and often failed to fill up the storage reservoir. Despite a long-standing relationship with its previous supplier, Julie Walker and her team decided a change was required. After speaking with VWT UK’s team of technical experts a new solution was devised. The new system features a duplex reverse osmosis (RO) set up, comprising two Purelab® Chorus 3 30L/hr RO units. Both systems feed into an existing large capacity tank. As a result of the upgrade, overall system performance has greatly improved, with the chance of disruptions made far less likely thanks to the second tank.

Furthermore, any potential disruptions can be circumvented as the new system is connected to VWT UK’s innovative AQUAVISTATM digital portal. The system allows for remote monitoring, ensuring that any system problem can be identified in real time. On a project like Brunel University, which can afford no downtime, this was crucial. VWT UK’s team of experts has access to Brunel’s systems, which means that the company can monitor indicators like flow rates. If a problem is identified, a notification is sent to the facilities manager at any time of day or night.

Crucially, due to the upgrade, the new system fills the reservoir three times faster than before. This was the first project to utilise VWT UK’s new reservoir module, designed by ELGA LabWater, which allowed the system to be connected to any other reservoir on the market. This flexibility of choice enabled Brunel University to connect to the existing reservoir. Furthermore, turnaround time was quick with VWT UK’s team of technical experts on hand to assist during the installation and commission process.

Speaking on the decision to change system provider, Julie Walker, Facility Manager at Brunel University commented: “It was a tough decision to change our water treatment provider but we are glad to have made the change. The new system is much easier to operate and is far more reliable. As a result, maintenance costs are cheaper, with the whole system operating more efficiently. The process has been really impressive and we’re now working with VWT UK to assess operations across the rest of our campus. I think this could be the start of a great, long-term working relationship between both organisations.”

The new system has been installed as part of a three-year service contract. The project was initially discussed in July 2019, with the RO unit installed and commissioned in September 2019. Thanks to the second RO unit, the RO will feed a new aquatic glassware washer system supplied by laboratory animal equipment specialist, Techniplast. VWT UK not only assisted in the installation of the washer, but the company also provided a water softener solution to the washer system to further improve performance. After seeing the results at Brunel University, Techniplast has contacted Veolia Water Technologies UK to discuss further collaborative projects.

Speaking on the project, Suleman Akhtar, Territory Account Manager at Veolia Water Technologies UK commented: “This was a great project to be involved with and we’re delighted with the results. When first discussing the project with Julie, we realised that time was of the essence. The client works with live animals, so if they require an upgrade, it needs to happen fast and without downtime. Thankfully, we were able to produce a quick turnaround, providing all the necessary advice and assistance with deliveries. The new system is far quicker and more efficient than before, which has been a big help to the university’s operations.”

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