Lanner, a provider of simulation software proven to maximise performance and optimise resources, today announced that Lanner WITNESS software is being used as part of the AquaTractor Lake Victoria water hyacinth power project.
Throughout many tropical regions, the invasive aquatic plant Water Hyacinth blocks harbours, destroys commercial fisheries, paralyses hydro-electric power stations and encourages the spread of diseases such as malaria, cholera and bilharzia. Nowhere are the devastating issues more apparent than on Lake Victoria.
Using Lanner WITNESS simulation software, UK-based start-up AquaTractor has developed the expertise and systems not only to clear Water Hyacinth on a commercially viable scale but also turn it into renewable energy.
AquaTractor has developed an integrated process to efficiently cut, clear and process large amounts of Water Hyacinth. Once ashore and processed, the plant is used as a feedstock in an industrial scale Anaerobic Digestion plant to generate green, carbon-positive energy through an anaerobic digestion process. The added advantage is that this is from a plant that does not compete with food production.
AquaTractor began using WITNESS as part of its business modelling for use in investment presentations. WITNESS simulations are critical tools that demonstrate not only the scale of the problem but also the viability of the AquaTractor approach. This quickly evolved into the use of WITNESS for optimising resources for maximum efficiency across different models.
The first model looked at harvesting and delivering the plants to a storage point on the lake where they are macerated and pumped back to shore for storage and processing. This has evolved into multiple tractors connecting to a pipeline. AquaTractor is now developing a second model looking at harvesting the plants prior to either returning to the processing facility or using barges for a second stage of transport.
Based upon the constant value of delivering enough water hyacinth each day to feed the anaerobic digestion plants to generate a given output, WITNESS is used to assess the viability and likely output for these different models, continually aiming for the most efficient and cost effective method of getting the plants off the lake. These simulations must account for factors such as:
- The number of AquaTractor units in use
- Servicing requirements for on lake equipment
- The impact of adverse weather
- The distance to travel to the plants / with cut plants back to site
- The number of available barges and patterns of use
- Patterns of possible equipment down time due to breakdown and blockages
Andy Dustan, programme manager, AquaTractor comments: “While water borne tractors are nothing new, this application and the link to sustainable energy creation is truly ground breaking and promises nothing short of a revolution for those communities around Lake Victoria currently blighted by this plant. Indeed, this approach could spread quickly across sub-Saharan Africa and deliver real change to millions of people who are dependent on water for their livelihoods and survival.
“Our use of WITNESS has supported our submission for the African Enterprise Challenge Fund and many other presentations. However, as our understanding of the plants lifecycle and the local environment increases, the real value has been in our ability to quickly simulate different approaches to optimise our harvesting and processing patterns. In the real world, via trial and error, these would have taken weeks, if not months to monitor and assess. That is simply time and resources we don’t have, so the virtual environment of WITNESS is ideal."
"Agricultural activities like harvesting and processing are some of the very first business processes ever recorded,” commented David Jones, CEO, Lanner. "AquaTractor is a thoroughly modern update but goes to show just how versatile simulation can be, from African lakes to contact centres and production lines, all businesses can benefit from simulation. We are both happy and proud to be supporting the project with our software and look forward to watching AquaTractor grow."