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Xylem supplies pump technology to major Belgian canal expansion works

Xylem, a global water technology company, has designed a state-of-the-art water pumping solution as part of a project to expand the Lanaye Locks in Belgium.

The Locks of Lanaye canal is a vital connector route between Northern and Southern Europe, connecting Meuse river with Albert Canal and permitting traffic between Liège and the sea without passing Antwerp.

Xylem’s Flygt pumps and turbines will regulate water levels in the canal network and harness energy from excess water in the Albert Canal.

The addition of a fourth Lanaye lock (225x25m) will quadruple the lock system’s convoy capacity from 2,000 to 9,000 tonnes.

The new lock was recently officially opened by His Majesty King Philippe of Belgium.

Located on the Belgium-Netherlands border, the Lanaye Locks link the Albert and Juliana Canals, the latter of which is a side canal of the River Meuse.

Three locks have operated alongside each other since 1964, but as two of these are too narrow to accommodate even smaller convoy, the larger lock has over time become a serious bottle neck for canal traffic.

Xylem was commissioned by the project consortium, Besix Sanotec-Balteau, to develop a compact solution to address challenges associated with seasonal water level changes in the lock.

Xylem’s solution, which includes five Flygt submersible hydroturbines with a flow of 18m³/s, pumps water back into the Albert canal, thus maintaining adequate levels to accommodate canal traffic during dry weather spells.

For most of the year, high water levels in Northern Europe require that water in the canal network be directed towards the Netherlands, where it flows into the sea.

A major objective of the lock project was to recover some of the lost energy associated with this process.

Xylem delivered five Flygt EL7585 turbines, each with an output of 460kW, to harness energy and ensure minimal losses.

The turbines work in concert with eight Flygt CP 3800 pumps, and the energy generated by the turbines flows into the electrical network.

Daniel Van de Gucht, EMEA key account manager of public utilities at Xylem, says the inflow conditions in the turbines must be carefully regulated in order to avoid disruption to canal traffic in the main channel.

Turbulence in the system can also result in energy losses and reduce the lifetime of the turbines.

‘Xylem developed a bespoke solution based on a reduced pipe network which ensures a balanced flow and minimal energy losses, with consequent lower energy consumption by pumps while generating power through the turbines. The reduced pipe network also means fewer components are subject to wear which increases the lifespan of the turbines,’ Van de Gucht says.

The construction of the fourth Lanaye lock is one of the largest civil engineering projects of the decade in Wallonia, according to Patrick Delperdange, senior operations manager at Besix Civil Works.

‘The works required the on-site production of over 220,000m³ of concrete, mainly made of the gravels extracted from the river Meuse during the earthworks of 1.3 million m³ (cut and fill). The concrete was reinforced with 15,000 tonnes of steel and required 200,000m² of formwork,’ says Delperdange.