From research into innovative processes for the treatment of micropollutants or the thermal treatment of sludge, from the application of artificial intelligence to customer service operating systems to the study of Energy Management processes in the integrated water service, through the application of the most advanced technologies for disinfection to the processes of digitalisation and computerisation essential for the birth of smart cities: these are just some of the many areas of application and study covered by the agreement in force until April 2024, between the manager of the integrated water service of the metropolitan city of Milan and the University of Milan, an international reference in engineering, architecture and design studies.
“The utilities are called upon to take on major challenges, to which we must respond with farsightedness and absolute preparedness, comments Alessandro Russo, chairman and CEO of the water utility. Over the next 10 years, CAP has earmarked EUR 1,330 million in investments to implement the Green New Deal, a master plan for the sustainable development of the Milan metropolitan area. The PNRR has earmarked EUR 3.5 billion of the spending budget for the sector, which we will have to know how to invest in the best possible way. Ambitious projects that require high-profile know-how and advanced industrial management of services that will be increasingly interconnected, such as water and the recovery of raw materials from waste. The partnership with the Polytechnic will have a significant impact not only from a technical-scientific point of view, but will be important in consolidating our role as a solution provider”.
“The management and innovation of the water system has for years been a complex and articulated challenge on many fronts, from the technical to the economic and social. The Politecnico di Milano is responding to these by providing expertise ranging from training to high-level research,” comments Ferruccio Resta, Rector of the Politecnico di Milano. These skills are at the heart of an agreement that aims to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the PNRR in terms of sustainable development. This is one of the main areas of growth and investment for local economies and for the country.
The agreement stems from a common desire to develop joint training, research and innovation initiatives and represents a means of seizing reciprocal opportunities in a climate of open innovation and knowledge sharing of the highest order for the role that the two partners play in their sector.
The synergy primarily involves the development of research, innovation and experimentation programmes in six key areas, including circular economy projects, including the transformation of sludge into nutrients and chemicals (e.g. phosphorus and nitrogen); digital transformation applied to network infrastructures; the development of innovative technologies in the field of “operations and energy management”; the development of “building information modelling” (BIM) methodologies, i.e. three-dimensional modelling of infrastructures; innovative technologies for water management and purification; applied research for the treatment of emerging pollutants.
At the same time, training will also occupy a prominent place: training initiatives for profiles working in CAP will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis with University lecturers, as well as training activities for Politecnico students at the company’s premises, plants and facilities, including curricular internships and the development of dissertations.
The agreement goes further: the collaboration with the Politecnico di Milano may extend to joint participation in national and international funding calls for research projects of common interest.
The agreement signed stems from a past of symbiosis and successful collaboration between the water utility and the University of Milan, which has an important precedent in PerFORM WATER 2030. This is the first Italian platform for research and experimentation, whose leader was CAP itself, created to meet the challenges of the integrated water service. For 30 months, with a multidisciplinary approach, the eight industrial companies and three universities and research centres, including the Politecnico di Milano, worked side by side on what are now the strategic sectors of the integrated water system: water quality, energy and resource recovery with a view to the circular economy, cost analysis and pricing.