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  • Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SMARTCIM (Smart interoperable electronic active valve, control eco-system and service to achieve superior building efficiency and user awareness)

SMARTCIM Report Summary

Project ID: 684086

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SMARTCIM (Smart interoperable electronic active valve, control eco-system and service to achieve superior building efficiency and user awareness)

Reporting period: 2015-08-01 to 2016-07-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The business project relates to the development of an innovative product-service offer that intends to revolutionise the hydronic market.
SmartCIM value proposition aims at transforming water distribution valves from simple actuators of the HVAC distribution systems into smart active nodes that can control with great accuracy quantities flowing through and interoperate with other components of the system (coils, thermostat, pumps) in such a way as to deliver the exact amounts of heat/cooling in each zone served with minimal amount of water and losses. In a nutshell, smart valves to enable smart, efficient HVAC plants.
Valve technology is unique for the deep integration of sensors and actuators, software eco-system makes the valve interoperable with other hydronic components, enables seamless implementation of advanced controls and allows monitoring from the internet.
SmartCIM is the first valve with IoT features, including monitoring/user feedback on mobile devices.
Benefits in application are substantial in terms of savings, ease of installation, lead time for commissioning, comfort and awareness of final users. CAPEX pays back shortly, especially for cooling applications.
The system is particularly suitable for retrofit/renovation of existing buildings for many reasons: installation & commissioning can be modular (gradual renovations), retrofit can be made without stopping service in all the building, the system interoperates with third party hydronic systems, i.e. does not require to upgrade the rest of the plant.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

A beta-version of the system (valve + eco-system) has been developed and prototyped. The controller has been developed in compliance with ISO16484 BACnet protocol to ensure interoperability with other HVAC systems and components. The β-version has been used for controlling the pilot plant in Norway and the building simulator lab in S.Maurizio. It controls valves, distribution pumps, ambient temperature sensors.
The client SW for the webservice has been developed to monitor the installed valves in different sites (to date two sites). It allows remote monitoring of parameters measured by the different sensors of the plants and calculates various indicators relevant for system control, verification and refinement. A graphical user interface has been developed to allow an efficient and easier control of the different installations. The client SW has been developed for PC/Windows and tablet/Android, in more configurations to serve different user profiles including CIMBERIO & ESAC technical staff (master control), technical staff of the pilot site, hotel guests, interested third parties. All data reside on a central server.
Valve technology has been refined, all new components have been prototyped and integrated. A fleet of 90 prototype valves has been assembled to be used for the different testing activities. The actuator has been completely redesigned and a lot of 130 actuators has been produced to support pilot installations, lab tests and guarantee spare components. A brand new electronic board has been developed, current configuration foresees two units. A lot of 60+60 boards has been produced to support pilot installations, lab tests and guarantee spare components. The technology to measure flow rate has been studied and extensively tested in our lab. Two new applications for patent related to the measuring technology have been issued to integrate current IPR. The valve body was redesigned to integrate the flow rate sensor and the new actuator. A fleet of 60 prototype SmartCIM valves was realized to support pilot installations, lab tests and guarantee spare parts.
The first pilot plant in Norway has been designed and installed in the guest house of the Andoya Space Center, a building that was made in the 70s and has 32 rooms to host scientists and guests. Commissioning will be completed in September. Plant configuration includes 38 valves + wireless ambient temperature sensors + the service eco-system. Installation has been organised in three missions in February, July and September. In February we visited the plant and installed a set of sensors to monitor parameters that could be relevant for analyzing the baseline behavior and decide upon plant configuration and control strategies. We installed also a basic webservice infrastructure to remotely monitor the plant through a dashboard and record data on a server. Field data were essential in order to refine configuration of the plant and service. In July we completed mechanical and hydronic works. In September we will complete electrical works, install the wi-fi system and commission the plant to start operations.
An exclusive laboratory testing facility has been designed, installed and commissioned to support testing and validation of the innovative functions of the SmartCIM eco-system. The facility simulates the behavior of a real building and allows refinement of the control strategies.
Value proposition has been refined and a marketing campaign has started to create awareness and build expectation.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The SmartCIM technology is innovative and exclusive on the market: In the period we carried out a complete freedom to operate analysis that revealed no anteriority. Then we issued two application for patents to protect the technology (still pending).
For the hydronic market, the SmartCIM represents a leap advance that will completely transform distribution plants into active networks suitable to enable superior demand management functions.
The control enabled by the SmartCIM is direct and provides much richer information, since each valve measures flow rate, temperature and heat flow passing through. In this way: 1) control of flow rate is direct for each valve, thus giving the possibility to perform optimal zone control with minimal amount of water (savings in the pump) in any service conditions, 2) combined control of valve-fancoil can be implemented, 3) heat flow delivered in each fancoil/radiator is measured by the valve, thus allowing refined analysis of consumption in each zone served, 4) flow rate and pressure measured in each valve contain detailed information on the operation of each branch of the hydronic plant, suitable to allow early detection of drifts or malfunctioning, 5) flow rate measure in combination with wireless communication enables a smart commissioning procedure where the target flow rate can be set up very shortly using the actuator as the tuner.
Overall, control and performances of the SmartCIM represent a leap progress in the HVAC plants control.
The valve becomes an active node of the distribution plant that enables smarter controls and demand management strategies. Moreover it is the first valve with IoT features, including monitoring/user feedback on mobile devices.
The ambition is that SmartCIM becomes the reference solution when the highest stds of HVAC performance and energy efficiency are searched.
Even more important is the ambition to become the reference solution for retrofit, when plants are repaired or upgraded, building automation is not present and the SmartCIM system represents a unique solution because it: 1) drastically improves HVAC performance and efficiency, 2) allows a modular upgrade of the plant and minimises interference with the service in the building, 3) implements essential building automation functions without the need for a full BMS investment.

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