WaterBeads - is a new way to transport water from Wet to Dry

Isn't it past time for some realistic drought mitigation solutions ?

A Texas company (Roane Inventions) has devised a solution that needs serious consideration by those responsible for finding suitable mitigation solutions in Oregon and Washington. It's called WaterBeads and would allow the transport of fresh water from wet locations where it is available to locations where it is badly needed to support irrigation needs, to recharge aquifers, to provide drinking water, to refill badly depleted lakes and reservoirs, and to reduce current substantial evaporation losses.

The main goal is to to transfer from wet, locations to drought stricken ones. Sources would include rivers, lakes, and perhaps some aquifers. In the Northwest, the primary sources would likely be locations in the Columbia River basin region, where water rights are available or potentially available. The capacity of the two
guideways shown below (one for full, the other for empty vehicles) would be about 52 million gallons per 24 hour day. For a full year, this would add up to 58,000 acre-feet of water.

This solution would not require costly (to build and operate) pipelines. They cost billions of dollars and take years to get the necessary permissions to construct. Pipelines also require significant amounts of electricity to run and maintain the multiple pumps required to push large amounts of water, under pressure, over often difficult terrain. Connecting main pipe lines with a network of distribution pipelines needed to serve scattered locations of end-users, such as cities, towns, large and small farms, ranches, reservoirs and aquifers can also be difficult. This approach also does not leak like a pipeline. Pipeline leaks are often obscure, hard to detect and and costly to locate and  repair.

This invention would utilize ZoomHydro vehicles. They are streamlined, light-weight, electric vehicles, that travel on an elevated guideway. The relatively small amount of energy needed to propel these highly energy-efficient vehicles would be provided by adjacent solar arrays attached to the support poles (illustrated above). The water-transport capacity of the system would be very similar to a large diameter pipeline as each vehicle could carry 600 gallons of water.

The guideway beam segment, shown below, has two hollow spaces that will provide room for electrical power lines, allowing them to be run down the guideway. There would be no danger of shorts (from small creatures like squirrels) or electric shock on the outside of the guideway There is a periodic opening under the center of the bottom of the beam so it can be attached easily to the support pole.

At battery swap stations fully-charged batteries are inserted into the vehicles and depleted batteries will also be recharged the along the route, thus distributing the load to match the distributed conversion of solar energy. There will be a significant number of batteries in this system, being continually swapped and recharged.

Depending on water demand requirements the system may could be shut down early morning or at night if energy from the day before runs low. Solar generation would be backed up by General Electric skid-mounted natural gas electric generators so it can run regardless of solar radiation's daily fluctuations. The cars are efficient enough that it may generate too much energy during each normal day. But the natural gas backup generators will be available if needed. Storage devices might also be used when available and economic.

Solar electricity is collected along the route and the wires inside the beam take it to battery swap stations where the depleted batteries are charged in storage pipes. Once a battery pack is fully charged it can be inserted  (swaped out) with a depleted pack within a few milliseconds. The battery pack swap takes place under the vehicle on the fly. The vehicle never has to stop to allow the swap event to occur.

The water would be unloaded at a connection that is central to an associated network of distribution pipelines for treatment (if necessary) and delivery to multiple end-users. The vehicles would travel on an exclusive, two-way elevated guideway that would be quite inexpensive and fast to build over long distances over various types of terrain. The system does not rely on gravity for propulsion. Gaining permissions (easements) for routes would also be much easier than for pipelines.

The WaterBeads system operation would be fully automated and could be modified (or even relocated) periodically to provide just the right amount of water at the right time to a distributed set of end-users. It can be built to serve a variety of landscapes and overcome most barriers to travel more easily than large pipelines.

The simplified illustration below shows the water intake conveyor approach. The idea is to avoid inefficient conventional pumps. This method could be used for transporting raw water sources  to raw water storage or end users. If the water needs to be treated at the destination, the water would be unloaded and routed directly to a treatment facility.

The floating dock allows the vehicles to sink naturally to fill. The valving in the  tanks is remotely controlled so that the fill rate is matched to the speed of the conveyor. The maximum water transport capacity of this arrangement is estimated to be about 52 million gallons per day. Down time should be minimal and scheduled maintenance would be off-line and would not affect the daily flow.


A WaterBeads presentation is available that provides many more technical details and illustrations for additional review and assessment. It is a digital pdf file. If you would like receive a copy, contact Jerry Schneider at jbs@peak.org or by phone at 503-353 2709, in Portland, Oregon. This invention is covered by three patents, Numbers 6,923,124; 7,127,999 and 7,334,524.

Some news about looming fresh water shortages in the US and around the globe

Information about the people-carrying version of this concept, called TriTrack,  is available at http://www.tritrack.net

Last modified: 17-Jun-2017