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The effects of a dryer climate on water

Salt and sweet don’t mix

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One of the many consequences of a dryer climate is that water levels are slowly but surely decreasing. That, in turn, disrupts the fresh water supply and causes salinization problems. In collaboration with local and national governments, Atlas Copco Rental regularly supplies equipment for the installation of bubble curtains in waterways to limit the damage to the environment. 

June 8, 2020

Salinization? What is that?

Soil salinization occurs when water-soluble salts accumulate in the soil to a level that it affects that soil. In an early stage, it influences the metabolism of soil organisms and reduces the soil’s quality. In an advanced stage, it leads to the destruction of all vegetation and other organisms living in the soil. Fertile and productive land becomes barren.

As sea levels rise, lower coastal areas are inundated with salt water, which gradually contaminates the soil. Climate change has increased the frequency and severity of extreme weather events. Including droughts and heatwaves. This leads to more intensive use of groundwater for drinking and irrigation, which then further depletes the water table and allows even more salt to leach into our soil.  

Bubbles can help

When you think of bubble curtains, usually large offshore projects come to mind. A bubble curtain acts as a barrier and protects sea-mammals, prevents the spreading of particles or other contaminants, and even noise. Our in-house Offshore Experts are assisting with the implementation of bubble curtains more frequently away from the open ocean. For example the removal of plastic in local waterways and limit the effects of salinization.

Prevent mixing in the lock

To prevent salinization, the bubble curtain prevents salt and fresh water from mixing. Since saltwater is heavier than fresh water, the salt water in the lower layer of the water flows into the lock when the lock gate is opened. This means that the freshwater is back in the upper layer. When the lock is opened on the other side, the saltwater then flows back out of the chamber to the fresh side, and the chamber is filled with fresh water.

Without a bubble curtain, virtually all the fresh water in the lock chamber would be mixed with saltwater within a short period of time. This application has been used during the Delta Works, and in the locks of the Afsluitdijk and in Terneuzen and Northern Lock in IJmuiden, also in the Netherlands.

All about oil-free

The PTS 1600 100% oil-free compressors is perfect for bubble curtain applications. It is available for both on-land and offshore applications.  To prevent contamination of surface water with oil, they opted for 100% oil-free compressed air, minimizing the risk of oil entering the system, as no oil lubrication is necessary for the air compressing process.

With global temperatures rising, bubble curtains will play an ever-increasing role in the sanitation of local waterways and prevent salinization. Atlas Copco has the oil-free equipment and expertise to assist where necessary.

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Tanzer Akpullukcu - Netherlands

Tanzer Akpullukcu

Country Manager – NL