AQUASIM: CSTB’s facility on water management

AQUASIM is a major full-scale facility which was built in 2009 in CSTB Nantes (France) to study sustainable water management. It was designed to simulate the water cycle within the building – plot – environment system and particularly with the objective of making realistic, controlled and/or accelerated simulations and experimentations on water management.

The main topics are related to:

  • Sanitary risks and environmental impacts of water savings, rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling,
  • Performances assessment of water treatment,
  • Sanitary risks, environmental impacts and treatment efficiency of on-site wastewater treatment plants,
  • Water-material interactions inside water pipes.

AQUASIM allows to produce and collect all kinds of water that can be found in the building-plot system, e.g. rainwater collected from the roof, shower and laundry greywater produced on-site, wastewater pumped from the public sewage network, groundwater directly pumped from an on-site well, and stormwater runoffs collected from the pavements around the facility.

AQUASIM is composed of a 2300-m² building (4 floors) and 5000 m² of plots. Several equipment are located outside the building, for example the water storage pools, the climatic pool (controlled in temperature and relative humidity), the green wall and two experimental floors. The plot zone is connected to the building by a service tunnel allowing water transfer from one point to another. Twenty tanks are located inside the building to allow the storage of the different water types. The whole facility integrates around 7 km of water pipes and approximately 250 valves for water transfers, as well as pumps and water flow meters.

AQUASIM is used in the WISDOM project as an intermediate pilot site where experiments are carried out under representative and controlled conditions, in order to validate the Wisdom architecture before deployment in Cardiff (UK) and La Spezia (Italy). 

More details on AQUASIM: http://www.cstb.fr/nantes/en/our-facilities/aquasim-major-water-facility.html


a) AQUASIM facility
b) Water storage tanks
c) Valves for water transfer

The experiments conducted in AQUASIM during WP4 allow results for the following scenarios groups to be obtained:

  • Demand management
  • Advanced devices

In AQUASIM, experimental conditions such as water flows, temperatures and simulation of user's habits (related to water consumption and discharge) are controlled in the experimental set-up called SimulHome which reproduce water networks within a household. SimulHome is utilised within the WISDOM project in several ways:

  • To reproduce user's behaviour; users' consumption of water is reproduced using electrical valves which are activated according to a hydraulic flow pattern that is representative of water usages. This pattern has been based on a literature review.
  • Gathering a database of hydraulic flow patterns by monitoring the water usage of real appliances.
  • Understanding the impact of energy recovery devices from greywater.

SimulHome is used to calibrate and verify the algorithms being developed for the demand management scenario, by capturing the water usage characteristics of household devices and conducting simulations of end users' behaviour. For the advanced devices scenario, the aim is to highlight the water-energy nexus by assessing the potential of energy recovery from greywater using heat exchangers. This deployment utilises water network monitoring to better understand the effect of these devices on energy savings for hot water production. By using the data gathered on the benefits of these devices, WISDOM will ascertain and predict the possible benefits of their implementation in other properties and on a wider scale.

SimulHome was instrumented to fully meet the requirements of these WISDOM scenarios. The following sensors were implemented at strategic locations:

  • 16 temperature sensors
  • 3 water flow meters
  • 2 pressure sensors
  • 3 energy meters
  • 2 smart water meters

Each parameter is recorded every second by SimulHome testbed SCADA system. All the data are then received by the CSTBox using web services communication, before being sent to the Wisdom cloud by MQTT communications.


a) SimulHome kitchen
b) SimulHome bathroom