Deltae Innovation Solutions B.V in Zundert tries to work with water in a creative way. With an eye on climate change, the focal point is a compact underground water tank designed for the agricultural sector, called Delta X. It is a strong and stable water reservoir with a high level of efficiency. Water is collected during heavy rain and stored for dry periods. The parts are recyclable and installation requires relatively little energy. Another important advantage is that this innovative storage system saves space.
The originator, the artsy civil engineer Tijmen Dekkers (23 and from the birthplace of Van Gogh), explains his company’s activities.
What motivated you to start Deltae?
It all started with a competition that I had won. That was the ‘Future of the Netherlands Delta Land’ prize from the Cruquius Museum. I had designed a concrete tank that collects and distributes water. The idea behind it was to cope more effectively with flooding and drought. I thought I should do more with that since I had won. And that’s how the idea came about for the company.
What does the company actually do??
The focus is on the Delta X underground water storage system which we devote most of our time to. The system is now comprised of an aluminium water tank that can be clicked together just like an IKEA kit.
It is designed to achieve various goals. Its underground construction means you can use the space above it. Rainwater is collected during rainfall and can be used during droughts. The construction is light and strong, so that the area can handle heavy loads.
One of the advantages of the light material is that it is easy to transport as well as to install. This in turn saves energy and CO2. The system is, amongst other things, well suited for tree nurseries, where it is currently being tested. Or for the cultivation of strawberries and tomatoes. There are various types of water used in the agricultural sector, but the most ideal is still rainwater. This provides a stable basis. Whereas with spring water, for example, there may be substances that are harmful.
Since aluminium reacts with water and that way produces ions that get into the water (which can be bad for your health, ed.), we are planning to modify Delta X. The material is now going to be made of composite, but with the same properties – light and strong, but it doesn’t react to water.
Besides all that, we advise and we talk about designs all over the place. Deltae is involved in a water playground near the railway area in Tilburg and has also designed the Corsospuwer. The latter is a creative solution designed to combat flooding. Corsopuwer prevents rainwater from flowing into drains, instead it sprays it onto your garden. It is a playful construction which also incorporates the heraldry featured on the logos of the Bloemencorso Zundert districts. The plan is to expand this nationwide.
Are there similar start-ups that are trying to do the same thing?
There are alternatives to underground water storage. Frequently the problem is finding the balance between cost, structural strength and maintenance. Usually infiltration crates are used for more effective water management, but they are less strong when it comes to heavier loads. Plus, our biggest advantage is that we are cheaper. Our costs for construction or transport are lower.
What is the reaction to your Delta X product and other services?
At the Bömer tree nursery, we are learning a lot from the trials. We are getting plenty of attention. Yet we often hear the question: does it work? Critical reactions are still up in the air as to the precise added value. You have to prove that it works.
What has been the biggest obstacle so far?
In the sector, you sometimes see an undercapacity of engineers who think differently. Or they think too specialized, solely within their own field of expertise. Then too little attention is paid to the big picture. I like to think ‘out of the box’. Maybe that’s why I’m also involved in art. That’s how I managed to gain some publicity with my ‘Nightwatch tea’.
What has been the highlight for Deltae?
That was winning the first prize at the Cities of our future European contest in 2018. It was a conceptual model designed to be used in South Africa. By using a demo model we were able to show how a city could be supplied with sufficient water.
What do you expect from the coming year?
Aside from using composite as a new material for the water tank, we are also involved in the Zundert tea plantation. That could do with better water. We are working on a tea concept for Saudi Arabia as well. And we – from the provinces of Noord-Brabant and Breda – are going on a trade mission to China.
And what is your long-term vision?
Many cities face water problems, especially when it comes to torrential rain. Cleansing and providing good water is interesting. We hope to eventually become a solid consortium, one that will expand and eventually have a partner.
Want to read more about start-ups? You can read all articles in our series here.