Story of Miriam Kuiper
It is always a huge opportunity to go abroad during your study, but this is totally different compared to ‘regular’ internships abroad. The George Barley Water Prize is a several stage competition to remove phosphorus from water, set up by the Everglades Foundation in Florida. Wetsus is the last stage winner and together with the number two of the second stage, Green Water Solution, are they competing with two pilots in Bradford Canada.
9 pilots from universities and private companies, representing the Netherlands (Wetsus), America (a.o. Green Water Solution), China and Canada, need to operate their technology for three months at a continuous flow. Off course, it need to be tested in cold circumstances, which the winter of Canada is known for. But the biggest challenge is the water itself, the Holland Marsh. It is green, dirty and containing high concentrations of phosphorus.
I knew it was going to be a hard task to operate two pilots by yourself in the cold. But I think the building of the pilots together with the team in 1.5 week in warmer weather was already a challenge. Standing in the mud and working all day to make it possible to start. But the relief that we, as team, made it before the start and had it all up and running was great.
Normally when you have issues with a pilot, you are able to shut down the inflow for a while. Or you can just spill a bit. A bad day with results is not an issue, that is part of the research. This pilots don’t have these opportunities. All your time onsite is registered, a bad result might cost you points and off time is almost not allowed. This all together makes it really challenging and different compared to other internships I ever did.
Although you are onsite a lot of times, Canada is also amazing to explore. It is great to see two beavers and Canadian geese enjoy the, hopefully becoming, cleaner Holland Marsh. And after possible onsite hours we hang out with the other still onsite competitors eating typically Canadian ‘deep fried’ food.
I already know by now, this will be an experience of a lifetime. Hopefully after three month still being the number one and two of the competition. If not, we learned a lot about our technology and how to operate. For me it is everyday a new experience, where I learn every day. Isn’t it about the technology, is it about the country and its habits.
March 7 2018