Storm Management: NUI Galway Research Engineers Bridge the Gap between Academia and Industry

Flow measurement testing on the Stormbreaker Defender system. Photo: NUI Galway
Oct 24 2017 Posted: 15:36 IST

Researchers complete project with Longford company BMS to remove floating debris from storm water sewer systems bringing new products to international water treatment markets

Researchers in civil engineering at the College of Engineering and Informatics in NUI Galway have recently completed a technology development project with Irish company Butler Manufacturing Services Ltd.

The group at NUI Galway have evaluated one of the company’s products, the BMS Stormbreaker Defender, which is a unique device capable of removing floating debris, grit/sand and oils/hydrocarbons from storm water sewer systems. Due to the projected increase in extreme storm and weather events, such as the recently experienced Hurricane Ophelia, existing storm sewers are being put under severe stress due to blockages caused by a flush of materials (such as bottles, plastics, oils, sand) from the urban environment. The Stormbreaker Defender aims to tackle such issues by effectively intercepting and capturing the material before it clogs sewers or makes its way into watercourses, relieving stresses on water infrastructure resulting in significant savings in maintenance costs.

The project, led by Dr Sean Mulligan and Dr Eoghan Clifford from NUI Galway, involved a comprehensive investigation of a full-scale model of the Stormbreaker Defender at the Hydraulic and Aerodynamics Laboratory at the University’s Alice Perry Engineering Building. Following the experimental testing and analysis, using in-house cutting edge equipment and instrumentation, the team generated substantial data sets representing the complex flow processes in the device which were used to validate its performance and develop new design tools for the Stormbreaker Defender.

Dr Sean Mulligan, Research Associate at the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “It’s great to work with industry, and especially with indigenous Irish companies who are bringing innovative products to the world stage. We have a lot of expertise in fluid dynamics, wastewater treatment and commercialisation which allows us to bridge the gap between the laboratory and the field for companies like BMS.”

Dr Eoghan Clifford, lecturer at the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “The project is part of ongoing research undertaken at the department of civil engineering in collaboration with industry and highlights the significance of academic-industrial partnerships in pushing innovative ideas and theories developed by both universities and industry to solve real-world problems in the field.”

Based in Longford, Butler Manufacturing Services is a specialist designer and manufacturer of products for the water treatment sector. The company employs 20 people and has products in over 40 countries worldwide.

“The opportunity to collaborate with NUI Galway and to access their expertise and facilities, allows us to optimise and evaluate the performance of our BMS Stormbreaker Defender”, said Seamus Butler, Managing Director of Butler Manufacturing Services. “We believe this successful project is the start of a strong partnership between both the NUI Galway research team and our company over the coming years. We are already in discussions with the University on an expanded exploration of this product into wastewater treatment.”

To support the expansion of this technology to export markets, Butler Manufacturing Services engaged with the civil engineering research team at NUI Galway. Through an Enterprise Ireland Co-Funded Innovation Voucher, the University was able to undertake a hydraulic evaluation of the technology.


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