The collective imagination often portrays islands as sun-drenched corners of paradise with white-sandy beaches lined with coconut trees, and whose inconvenient sides are quickly glossed over. The lack of safe drinking water is one such downside. This is one problem the EU-funded REFRESH project aims to tackle thanks to new PVC and polyester containers used for the transport and storage of fresh water. The containers are used to provide safe drinking water to islands and coastal communities without a regular water supply, especially during the months of summer.
This new system of flexible containers is made up of "waterbags" towed along behind a barge. According to AIMPLAS, the Spanish Technology Institute collaborating on the project with five other European companies, the system is 50 to 75% cheaper and more environmentally friendly than traditional transportation in tankers.
A first prototype, measuring 20m in length and 4m in diameter able to hold 200m3 of drinking water was tested in November 2012 to transport freshwater to Crete. The test demonstrated the technical feasibility of these floating flexible bladders made from a polyester fabric coated with PVC. With this first successful test, the consortium of companies involved in this project has asked the European Commission about the possibility of developing a second project, Refresh XXL, which aims to develop containers able to hold ten times as much water on a commercial scale.
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