The constant growth of the world population led to the fact that in the XXIst century lack of fresh water has become one of the main problems of humanity. Drinkable and technical water has become one of the most crucial resources both for the global economy and for human survival. According to the UN reports, even now about one-third of the world population lives in countries, suffering from lack of fresh water, less than in 20 years two-thirds of humanity will live in countries with water scarcity.
According to experts, the middle of the XXIst century natural drinking water will become a scarce product in most regions of the world. Water supply will be provided through expensive technologies for seawater purification and desalination and through freshwater import from other regions. The industries using fresh technical water will face this problem as well.
Nowadays freshwater goes the second after oil and gas resources in importance. However, in addition to drinking water one needs technical fresh water, which is used in hydroelectricity, agricultural sector, for biological fuel production, and in other industries. The problem of technical fresh water has become vital even for the utility sector.
The University is actively engaged in the development of resource efficient technologies and can help in search, creation, and dissemination of new technologies for freshwater purification and conservation, and participate in environmental protection activities, providing research and expert support. On the Tomsk region territory, there is Vasyuganskoye bog, the main source of fresh water for the whole region. Its freshwater reserves are estimated at 400 km3. The BRICS Network University is interested to use it to study how the features of the Siberian bogs can help in the wastewater purification. In fact, in the Network University BRICS, Russia is represented by 12 universities, TPU is among them.
TPU is Russia's coordinator of the international thematic group Water Resources and Pollution Treatment, established within the framework of the network university. In particular, the University is working on double degree Master programs with the BRICS universities. In the research area, TPU jointly with other BRICS participants will conduct a project Complex Approach to Water Resources Management and Eco-efficient Wastewater Treatment Technologies. This project is aimed at improving academic programs quality and graduates qualification, development of a united educational space and academic mobility, and pooling resources for joint research projects.
Tomsk Polytechnic University has solid research and educational background in issues, related to water purification and disinfection. For example, TPU School of Earth Sciences & Engineering trains specialists in hydroengineering for more than 85 years. It established Groundwater Geochemistry International Lab, conducting research in the areas of geology, chemistry, the biology of water, water treatment, and management and protection of water resources.
A few years ago the School of Earth Sciences & Engineering established Water Institute, dedicated to designing and implementation of complex solutions for water treatment and water resources management based on BAT (Best Available Technologies). The Institute pursues the following goals: improvement of water treatment methods, development of waste and natural water treatment technologies, creation of facilities for complex projects, development of approaches related to water use, treatment and preservation problems.
TPU paid great attention to the enhancement of continuous training system in the fields of R&D, building and operation of water and wastewater treatment facilities (various Master degree programs and advanced training courses).
Above all, the University designed and produced a number of unique devices, such as:
- Water treatment complex Geyser TM was designed for preparation of drinking water from underground and surface sources.
- Water treatment system Mongoose - non-reagent and environmentally friendly method of water treatment, allowing removing and preventing deposition of salts in central heating pipe systems, and hot and cold water supply systems.
- Technological complex for purification and disinfection of household and industrial wastewater allows purifying and disinfecting wastewater from a wide range of pollutants, improving organoleptic parameters, and removing organic contaminants (oil products, phenol, methanol, etc.).
- Water treatment complex Impulse purifies water from underground sources to quality, meeting all sanitary and epidemiological requirements and gives the water taste qualities inherent in water of mountain rivers;
- Water purification complex Aerozon was designed for production of drinking water from underground sources and open reservoirs, supply of drinking water to facilities of various industries, organization, and supply of shift camps, villages, and residential buildings.
Another project of Water Institute is a water treatment plant developed for water purification and supply of the urban settlement Mezhdurechensky in Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous okrug. This plant purifies 5.000 cubic meters of water per day and provides fresh water to more than 10.000 local residents. The purified water meets all sanitary and epidemiological requirements. Above all, the plant does not use chemical elements and expensive ozonizing devices, making it cheap for operation. Both the University researchers and local residents found this project effective, as a result, TPU received orders for building similar water plants in other cities and settlements.
The University paid great attention to training of highly qualified specialists in this area. It has developed an English double degree program in Water quality and water treatment, which was launched in 2017. Students enrolled in these programs, will study and conduct research at both participant-universities and TPU.
TPU believes that the lack of freshwater can jeopardize further development and even survival of humanity, that why the University is transparent in its research and open for international collaboration.