Instrumentet Turbinatorn placerat över öppningen i en dagvattenbrunn

The Turbinator – smart sensor for predictive water maintenance 

IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute is developing a patented turbidity and water level sensor called the Turbinator.

The Turbinator meets the needs for a robust and connected sensor at low cost.

It can be used for early warning of pollutants or for predictive maintenance of a city's pipeline network for waste- and stormwater. It is based on image processing and edge AI to predict turbidity and water level.

The data collected can be used for preventive maintenance of a city or municipality pipeline network for waste- and stormwater.

The technical solution of the Turbinator – combining a camera, a focused light beam and image analysis for measuring turbidity – is patent approved in the US, EU and Sweden.

How it's used

The Turbinator is easy to install or de-install e.g when the battery needs to be changed or the sensor is moved to a new location. No drilling is required. The installation and uninstallation can be done without entering the drain, thus avoiding otherwise necessary safety measures.

Main innovative element:

  • Low maintenance cost, as it is mounted in a pipe close to the ground and placed above the water line or surface reducing the need for cleaning
  • Low energy consumption and fully powered by battery
  • Robust and designed for monitoring wastewater in a dark environment

Altogether it reduces the workload related to maintenance, including cleaning the sensor as well as power supply preparations and mounting of sensors, significantly.

How it works

The sensor sends a laser beam into the water, takes a photo of where the light hits the surface and uses an AI algorithm to calculate the turbidity based on the photo.

To develop the algorithm, IVL has gathered thousands of images together with reference measurements. The images are used in the training process of the algorithm.

By processing the information on both sensor and system level with AI, an estimate of the load or deviations in the network over time creates insights needed for predictive maintenance of the system.

Infographic showing a vertical culvert where a laser beam and camera monitor the water flow
Water outflows through flood drainage system

Main benefits from the Turbinator

  • Early warning of pollutants in the waste- and stormwater system.
  • Increased capacity in the waste- and stormwater system, which leads to less environmental impact and fewer floods.
  • Fewer manual inspections, which saves time and creates fewer traffic disruptions.
  • Longer service life on the pipe network, as measures such as flushing the system are taken only when needed.
  • Leakage detection in the pipe network, by monitoring trends of turbidity in nearby sensors to distinguish local changes in sections of pipes.
En dräneringsbrunn som det rinner vatten till

Main beneficiaries of this technology

The Turbinator provides a solution for both overview and planning of proactive and targeted maintenance of the system.

Several stakeholders would be beneficiaries of this technology:

  • Local councils and the city water utilities, that have the responsibility to ensure a well-functioning system for collecting, conveying, disposing and treatment of wastewater and stormwater.
  • Other departments involved in the maintenance of the wastewater grid depending on its location, e.g traffic department, park department or private stakeholders, such as real estate owners, with ownership of or responsibilities for pipes, drains and sewers located on private property.
  • Private stakeholders, such as real estate owners, with ownership of or responsibilities for pipes, drains and sewers located on private property.
  • Businesses and insurance companies that might be impacted by heavy rains and floods.

Partners involved in the collaboration

The Turbinator is a collaboration initiative between several actors trying to develop a solution for measuring particles in water with an innovative technique.

The partners involved are:

  • The stakeholders City of Gothenburg Sustainable Waste and Water and Stockholm Water and Waste who give valuable insight in the challenges of measuring in the sewage system
  • The developers Eeware and Greenwave who are experts in product development for AI powered IoT
  • The financers EU, Vinnova, IoT-Sverige, SIVL and IVL
  • The projects SCOREwater and IoT for sustainable water management

Press release

IoT Sverige podcast (in Swedish)


Contact us

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Magnus Rahmberg

Group leader
Phone +46 (0)10 7886563



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