Skip to main content

Smart interoperable electronic active valve, control eco-system and service to achieve superior building efficiency and user awareness

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SMARTCIM (Smart interoperable electronic active valve, control eco-system and service to achieve superior building efficiency and user awareness)

Reporting period: 2016-08-01 to 2017-07-31

The business project relates to the development of an innovative product-service offer that intends to revolutionise the hydronic market.
The 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, thermostats, pumps) in such a way as to deliver the exact amount 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.
The valve technology is unique for the deep integration of sensors and actuators. The software eco-system makes the valve interoperable with other hydronic components, enables seamless implementation of advanced controls and allows monitoring from the internet.
The SmartCim is the first valve with IoT features, including monitoring and feedback to users on mobile devices. The 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 and commissioning can be modular (gradual renovations), retrofit can be made without stopping service in the building, the system interoperates with third party hydronic systems, i.e. does not require to change the rest of the plant.
In a first phase, a beta-version of the system (valve + eco-system) has been developed and prototyped. Two demonstration environments have been created, a pilot plant in the Andoya Space Centre in Norway and the CimSim building simulator in the S.Maurizio plant.
The controller controls valves, distribution pumps and ambient temperature sensors and has been developed in compliance with ISO16484-5 BACnet protocol to ensure interoperability with other HVAC systems and components.
The client software for the webservice has been developed to monitor the installed valves in different 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 control of the different installations. The client software has been developed for PC/Windows and tablet/Android, in more configurations to serve different user profiles. All data reside on a central server.
The beta-version of the valve technology has been extensively tested and refined and a final configuration validated. This valve configuration is compact and characterised by an innovative solution of flow meter that utilises a differential pressure transducer. This innovation has been completely developed in the period and has been applied for patent. The valve body and the electronic control have been to accommodate integration of the flow meter.
The pilot plant in the Andoya Space Center has been commissioned in September 2016, completing all electrical works and installation of communication infrastructure. It has determined a more uniform distribution of heating in all the zones served thus causing a significant impact on the energy footprint of the building.
A numerical simulation model of the building has been developed to support analysis and interpretation of data collected by the SmartCim system that provided insight into energetic behaviour and concrete indications for future improvements.
In April 2017 a fourth mission in Andoya has been organised in order to align the pilot plant with the latest improvements of the technology.
The CimSim building simulator facility has been further refined and extensively used for the development and validation of the control strategies.
The SmartCim technology has been presented in two important fairs such as Klimahouse in Bolzano and ISH in Frankfurt receiving concrete expressions of interest from potential customers and partners.
A strategic partnership has been launched with the Canadian company mNubo finalised at the analysis of Big Data generated by the installed fleets of valves.
The exploitable results of the project are many and include:
- the product-service that will integrate the current portfolio;
- the enabling technologies, especially the system for measuring flow rate;
- the data collected by the system in the application buildings;
- the partnerships created;
- the CimSim building simulator that represents an exclusive and extremely effective facility to be used for product development and dissemination activities;
- the great visibility achieved of the SmartCim project thanks also to the pilot plant in the Andoya Space Center.
Exploitation has been performed applying a multi-channel strategy to reach the target segments utilising:
- the project website
- one-to-one briefings
- presentations
- professional associations as multipliers.
Dissemination has built awareness and expectation also in the wide audience as an effect of a coordinated communication plan channelled through social networks and the website.
The startup of the pilot plant in Andoya Space Center with TV coverage has created great visibility for the project.
The SmartCim technology is innovative and exclusive on the market.
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.
In fact the control enabled by the SmartCim is direct and provides a rich set of 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 in any service condition, 2) heat flow delivered in each radiator/fancoil is measured by the valve, thus allowing refined analysis of consumption in each zone served, 3) combined control of valve-fancoil is possible, 4) the valves perform a granular monitoring of the functioning of the hydronic plant, 5) measure of flow rate in combination with wireless communication enables a smart commissioning procedure.
The environmental impact of the project is related to the savings that the introduction of the system can determine in the destination buildings. Thanks to the advanced control strategies, these savings derive from many combined improvements including avoidance of unnecessary flow rates, reduction of head losses, more rational utilisation of radiators, more direct control loops.
The ambition of the business project is that the SmartCim becomes the reference solution when the highest standards of HVAC performance and energy efficiency are searched.
Even more important is the ambition to become the reference solution for building retrofit, when plants need to be repaired or upgraded and building automation is not present. In these cases the SmartCim represents a unique selling point because it: 1) drastically improves HVAC performance and efficiency, 2) allows a modular upgrade of the plant and minimises interference with the activities and service in the building, 3) implements essential building automation functions without the need of a full scale BMS investment.
SmartCim electronic boards