Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

ECOTHERMO Report Summary

Project ID: 315025
Funded under: FP7-SME
Country: Italy

Final Report Summary - ECOTHERMO (Innovative green technology for smart energy saving on existing residential buildings with centralized heating/cooling generators)

Executive Summary:
EcoThermo project can be classified as one of the most promising technology improvement supporting the European global target to save 20% of primary energy consumption within 2020. The field of application is the conversion of the old, centralized heating/cooling systems without local control to obtain functionally autonomous heating systems. The systems that allow at a such conversion, adding as minimal request the function to control independently each flat indoor temperature and to allocate the costs on the base of the real heating absorptions, are mandatory in many countries and shall become mandatory in all the remaining ones to achieve the 2020 goals in the very next years. According to a 2007 EC survey, the house energy consumption weight as ¼ on the global Europe area energy consumption, the 75% of which is because indoor spaces heating.

EcoThermo is a building automation, Internet of Things, remotely controllable system that brings clear innovations and benefits with respect to the start of the art technologies. The objectives, results and benefits for final users refer to a more accurate allocation of the heating costs (errors around 5% instead 9%-40% of heat costa allocator has some researched have demonstrated), higher savings (up to 2-2.5 times more), no devices to be disposed because of batteries discharged (potential saving of 15 million devices/batteries every year), minor payback time, remotely controllable system also for the heating contractors that can decrease a lot their management costs.

Project Context and Objectives:
EcoThermo project can be classified as one of the most promising technology improvement supporting the European global target to save 20% of primary energy consumption within 2020. The field of application is the conversion of the old, centralized heating/cooling systems without local control to obtain functionally autonomous heating systems. The systems that allow at a such conversion, adding as minimal request the function to control independently each flat indoor temperature and to allocate the costs on the base of the real heating absorptions, are mandatory in many countries and shall become mandatory in all the remaining ones to achieve the 2020 goals in the very next years. According to a 2007 EC survey, the house energy consumption weight as ¼ on the global Europe area energy consumption, the 75% of which is because indoor spaces heating.

EcoThermo is a building automation, Internet of Things, remotely controllable system that brings clear innovations and benefits with respect to the start of the art technologies. The main ones refer to a more accurate allocation of the heating costs (errors around 5% instead 9%-40% of heat costa allocator has some researched have demonstrated), higher savings (up to 2-2.5 times more), no devices to be disposed because of batteries discharged (potential saving of 15 million devices/batteries every year), minor payback time, remotely controllable system also for the heating contractors that can decrease a lot their management costs.

The allocation accuracy is one of the main current issues of the traditional systems based on heat cost allocators that are greatly decreasing the trust of the final users on these kind of metering systems. Consequently, every year it is reported an increasing trend of tenants that do not want to pay the heating consumption on the base of what measured by the HCAs based system and many protests without an easy solution are formally started. The main problem of the HCAs is that they do not measures the physical quantities directly involved in the heating exchange (inlet temperate, outlet temperature and flow rate) and that their accuracy performance are guarantee just in ideal working conditions (climatic chamber) and not in real contexts of application. EcoThermo metrological and patent protected innovative procedure is based on the soft sensor technique to refer the heating absorption of each radiator to the three direct physical quantities without installing on every radiator a real flow meter. Besides, to demonstrate the EcoThermo improvement of accuracy performance it has been designed and realized the first world thermal-fluid-dynamic mokup aimed at testing the system in real working condition, not ideal ones. EcoThermo doesn’t need any HCA device; therefore there is no need to re-buy these metering devices when the batteries, generally welded on the electronics, get low.

The traditional thermostatic valves allow very low savings, around 8%-12%; existing electronic ones discharge too quickly. Therefore, heating contractors and building administrators that do not want to face the support calls from tenants, disincentive the adoption of this solution. EcoThermo BVA electronic valve bring several electro-mechanical innovations that allow at actuating the valve in average with 0.8J, that is from 2.5 to 4 time less than the existing electronic valves. Thus, the BVA batteries can last in the worst case 4-5 years that is enough to let them be acceptable by the market. Besides, BVA have a backup battery ad perform 6 tampering-proof controls in coordination with the remote server. The state of BVA batteries level of charge is continuously remotely monitored.

Final users such as tenants, heating contractors and building administrators can benefit of further saving opportunities given by the Internet of Things system. Tenants can completely control their local system by PC and smartphone, for instance to postpone the heating switch-on time if they came back home later. Heating contractors can monitor and control the working point and the efficiency level of the heater and the circulating pump saving a lot of cost due to continue local inspection by their workers that can be done automatically by EcoThermo and monitored at office place.
The figure in the attachment I explain the benefits against current systems.

Project Results:
1. Design, development and advanced prototyping of all the system devices
a. BCU: building control unit, it is the communication gateway between the local system and the remote server and Web server. It performs measures on the main stretch of the heating system. It implements the Primary Coordinator role of the wireless protocol.
b. FCU-BS: it is the base station of the flat control unit; it controls the state of the radiators to keep a desired indoor temperature. It collect data and events. It perform the Secondary Coordinator role of the wireless communication protocol.
c. FCU-HI: it is the local human interface through which tenants can set different desired temperature, temperature profiles and watch their heating consumption.
d. Radio Repeater: these routing devices allow at extending the wireless communication range.
e. BVA: innovative wireless actuator for radiator body valve, very low energy consumption per each actuation.
2. Development of software modules
a. Math identification procedure: it is aimed at determine the values of the math equation constants that characterize every different controlled heating system.
b. Heat cost allocation procedure: it perfoms the accurate estimation of every radiator consumption.
c. Installation tools
d. WEB Internet of Things and services server and site. To remote control and monitoring the entire system. The access rights are distinguished by types of users.
e. Two IT Expert Modules for energy increasing
3. Prototyping of a new energy harvesting wireless technology to recharge the batteries of the electronic valves. This is based on pressure variations in the pipes at 5Hz and laminar piezoelectric layers applied in proximity of every radiator valve to generate an alternate current that is enough to recharge the BVA batteries.
4. Design and realization of the first world thermal-fluid-dynamic mockup for heat cost allocation tests and validation on a real usage context
5. Validation of the innovations performances

Potential Impact:
Impact for the SME participants and competitiveness
The obligation to install heating conversion systems arise the awareness of the final user on the state of the art technologies. The main objected topics that indeed are increasing disputes and loss of trust in these kind of systems, refers to the level of average savings and the accuracy of the allocation. As mater of facts, thermostatic valves proposed in 98% of cases allow at very low savings, 7%-12% against 20% or more promised at the selling moment. Thus, since in the worst use case the payback period is 7 years or more and the heat cost allocator batteries discharge in 7-10 years the further problem of low savings is that the energy saving investment risks to never pay itself back. Besides, some independent studies and real scenario experimentation of Università di Cassino and Politecnico di Milano confirmed what is perceived by every day wider segment of final users: the heat cost allocator accuracy is very poor, typical error 9% up to 40% (without considering air formation and sand formation in the top side and bottom side of the radiators that worsen even more the accuracy performance). EcoThermo fixes all these troubles, decrease the system intrusion because it heled the number of devices per radiator, avoid devices disposal because of betteries discharged, double or more the possible savings and offer more opportunities of saving for both the final users and the heating contractors with a complete wireless and remotely controllable Internet of Things infrastructure.
Impacts of Ecothermo on INGENIA’s competitiveness

INGENIA will have an innovative system for heat cost allocation with clear benefits with respect to the state of the art technologies based on the heat cost allocators and thermostatic valves. The potential market is for >40 billion euro turnover for the system selling and 1-1.5 billion euro/year for the allocation service. These type of systems will be mandatory in many EU states within 2017.

Besides, INGENIA can exploit some resulting technologies from the EcoThermo system development that can be sold as standing alone devices/systems:
1. Top gamma SRD radio modems;
2. Innovative wiNET wireless protocol and relative communication infrastructure and IoT server;
3. High performance industrial DAQ board.

Impacts of Ecothermo on TESCO’s competitiveness
TESCO SW will integrate the SW application developer by UPOL and Cleopa into its portfolio of products and services. We expect commercialization of the product mainly for customers with vast portfolio of immovable assets – public institutions (schools, agencies, hospitals, ministries...) and private organizations such as banks, insurances, and owners of apartment buildings. Specifically we are planning to implement the solution for our customer RPG Byty s.r.o. who owns cca 44 thousands flats.
As regards the way of commercialization, we will use mainly two distribution channels:
- Our own sale representatives – sales department team ensuring business case from the first contact to the agreement negotiation
- Cooperation with suppliers of complementary solutions – cooperation in public contract bids where the matter of the contract is realization of complex solution in ERP and CAFM

Impacts of Ecothermo on K2N’s competitiveness
K2n Ltd already have a commercial online energy management system. This system was used to underpin the successful EU iSERV project. As part of the exploitation iSERV project K2n is in the process of integrating ECOs (Energy Conservation Opportunities) into the commercial system. The work undertaken by UPOL and Cleopa fits perfectly into this process and will broaden the capabilities of our ECO functionality. Once the UPOL and Cleopa functionality is integrated into the ECO Module we will sell it as part of the whole K2n online energy management system. The opportunities we have at the moment are the Ministry of Defence, County Councils, Universities, Law Firms and a large supermarket chain. We are also in advanced discussions with CIBSE (Chartered Institute of Building Service Engineers) to allow 20 CIBSE members access to our system.

Areas of application
Old centralized residential heating/cooling systems.

Contribution to policy development
A great support to achieve the 2020 programmed primary energy consumption savings. New technological accuracy standards for heat cost allocation for old centralized heating systems.

Dissemination activities
Several documentations, presentations and video conferences are available in the WEB. Here a list of the most meaningful
2. EcoThermo YouTube channel
a. Videos recorded at INRIM conference (14/07/2014):
i. INRIM CHAIRMAN, Masimo Inguscio – “Introduzione al progetto EcoThermo” [ITA] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNxhB_GBwQ4)
ii. PROF. MARCO MASOERO, ENERGY DEP. POLITECNICO DI TORINO “Heating cost allocation: normative framework. Application context and state of the art technology.” [ITA] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xNYWHlCtr8)
iii. FEDERICO BARI, INGENIA Srl I3P INCUBATOR STARTUP – “EcoThermo Project: when metrology stimulates innovation for the energy efficiency” [ITA] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIrHIrylKzE)
iv. PROF. COSIMO GRECO, DEP. AUTOMATIC CONTROL AND COMPUTER SCIENCE POLITECNICO DI TORINO – “Soft-sensor: a robust technique applied to metrology and fluidic networks” [ITA] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eo7OOXe_zxQ)
v. CARLO MARINARI, INRIM - “The first thermal-fluid-dynamic European mockup and the first dynamic thermal exchange metrological standard” [ITA] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TV6d1wqheCs)
b. 3D ANIMATION PRESENTING THE INNOVATION OF THE BVA DEVICE OF EcoThermo [ENG]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUHeZroUo9Q
c. PRESS CONFERENCE AT THE SOFIA NATIONAL PRESS AGENCY [ENG – BLG]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEQHwX54piE
3. WEB site: www.ecothermoproject.com
4. Presentations:
a. AT INRIM WEB SITE: http://www.inrim.it/EcoThermo2014/programma.html
b. EcoThermo presentations:
i. Marco Masoero – AICARR Conference – 27 March 2015 – Milan: https://www.dropbox.com/s/vwtosgzbqskafb8/150122_MASOERO_CONTABILIZ.2015.ppt?dl=0
ii. Federico Bari
1. http://goo.gl/TmMg0w
2. http://goo.gl/FYH6fF
3. http://goo.gl/e7DgVs
4. http://goo.gl/unAsyR
c. Brochure: http://goo.gl/WswjJR
The following conferences and seminars have been attended by ECOTHERMO representatives:
1. INRIM conference, 14 July 2014: “EcoThermo – Metrologia, Domotica ed Efficienza energetica”
2. AiCARR and CTI Siminar, 27 March 2015, San Donato Milanese: “L’attuazione dell’art 9 del d.lgs 102/14 - Misurazione e fatturazione dei consumi energetici: problematiche e soluzioni tecnologiche. First topic at 2:00pm - “Tecnologie di contabilizzazione del calore nei sistemi di riscaldamento, raffreddamento e fornitura di acqua calda sanitaria”.
3. National conference at the Bulgarian national press agency, Sofia, 24 March 2015. Present 50 people (journalists, association of heating contractors, associations of tenants, association of condominium owners, competitors, ministry representative, etc.)
4. (planned) There will be two paper presentations from INGENIA/POLITO and INRIM at the next 6th “Building Physics for a Sustainable Built Environment”

List of Websites:
A project website, available at the link www.ecothermoproject.com, was realised at the beginning of the project and maintained updated. Description of the project website was presented in the D7.1

Contact

Sergio Rofi Pallone, (General Manager)
Tel.: +390113987716
E-mail
Record Number: 189696 / Last updated on: 2016-10-10