Xylem has designed a state-of-the-art water pumping solution as part of a complex project to expand the Lanaye Locks in Belgium. The locks are a vital route between Northern and Southern Europe. Xylem’s Flygt pumps and turbines will regulate water levels in the canal network and harness energy from excess water.

Located on the Belgium-Netherlands’ border, the Lanaye Locks link the Albert and Juliana Canals, the latter of which is a side canal of the River Meuse. Three locks have operated alongside each other since 1964 but, as two of these are too narrow to accommodate even smaller convoy, the larger lock had over time become a serious bottle neck for canal traffic.

The addition of the new fourth Lanaye lock (225 meters x 25 meters) quadruples the lock system’s convoy capacity from 2,000 to 9,000 tons.

“The construction of the fourth Lanaye lock is one of the largest civil engineering projects of the decade in Wallonia,” said Patrick Delperdange, Senior Operations Manager BESIX Civil Works. “The works required the on-site production of over 220,000 cubic meters of concrete. BESIX finished this ambitious project within the agreed timeframe, while also coordinating the electromechanical works, among them the realization of the hydroelectric power and pumping plant.”

A pump system to maintain water levels

Xylem was commissioned by the project consortium BESIX Sanotec-Balteau to develop a compact solution to address challenges associated with seasonal water level changes in the lock.

Xylem’s solution includes five Flygt 500 kilowatt (kW) submersible pumps with a flow of 18 cubic meters per second (m³/s). They pump water back into the Albert canal, maintaining adequate levels to accommodate canal traffic during dry weather spells.

Recovering lost energy

For most of the year, high water levels in Northern Europe require that water in the canal network be directed towards the Netherlands, where it flows into the sea. A major objective of the lock project was to recover some of the lost energy associated with this process.

Xylem delivered five Flygt turbines each with an output of 460 kilowatts (kW) to harness energy and ensure minimal losses. Energy generated by the turbines flows into the electrical network.

“Inflow conditions in the turbines must be carefully regulated in order to avoid disruption to canal traffic in the main channel,” said Daniel Van de Gucht, EMEA Key Account Manager, Public Utilities for Xylem. “Turbulence in the system can also result in energy losses and reduce the lifetime of the turbines.”

A balanced flow with minimal energy losses

Xylem’s solution was based on a reduced pipe network, which ensures a perfectly balanced flow and minimal energy losses. The system ensures lower energy consumption by the pumps while generating power through the turbines. The reduced pipe network also means fewer components are subject to wear, which increases the lifespan of the turbines.

Adrien Theunissen, Senior Manager at BESIX Sanotec, said, “Thanks to the engineering capabilities of BESIX Sanotec, CMI Balteau and Xylem, we could propose an alternative to the original scheme that was very attractive for the client. This resulted in enhanced efficiency and a reduction in construction and maintenance costs. The synergy between the partners contributed to a fruitful cooperation at all stages of the project.”