Select Page

testing AI-driven ultrafiltration system

AI makes a splash in water treatment optimization

A new water treatment facility in Drayton Valley is piloting Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enhance both the environmental sustainability and the cost-effectiveness of their operations. Tech startup ISL Adapt has partnered with the Town of Drayton Valley, the University of Alberta and the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute to run an AI pilot program at the new Drayton Valley Water Treatment Plant. A miniature water treatment plant inside the larger facility will test the effectiveness of an AI-driven ultrafiltration system.

According to Douglas Hallett, research and innovation lead at ISL Adapt, water treatment facilities, like the one in Drayton Valley, face the responsibility of supplying clean drinking water to the population. Drayton Valley uses an advanced ultrafiltration system to address challenges such as organics, E. coli and emerging contaminants like pharmaceuticals and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs).

In conventional water treatment systems, coagulants are added to bind particles, settling them to the bottom of the tank. An ultrafiltration system enhances this process by creating fine clusters of particles which helps them adhere to membrane surfaces. The process involves pumping the water through long membranes that look like spaghetti and whose tiny pores filter out suspended solids and pathogens. However, a wrong dose of coagulants can clog the filters, which are expensive to clean and replace. With raw water conditions constantly changing, it can be challenging for human operators to manually calculate dosage.

Funded by Alberta Innovates, a pilot project within the plant is testing whether AI can improve operation of the water plant’s ultrafiltration system. Optical sensors send water quality data to the AI system, whose learning algorithm adjusts coagulant dosage, pumping and cleaning cycles. The goal is to minimize water, energy and chemical usage with hopes to eventually employ the same system at an industrial scale in the main plant.

Contact Us



3 + 14 =