Project to develop ‘smart module’ capable of automatically controlling equipment to reduce energy consumption
Abu Dhabi: 3 March 2013 – National Central Cooling Company PJSC “Tabreed”, the Abu Dhabi based district cooling utility company, and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, an independent, research-driven, graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technologies, are collaborating on a research and development (R&D) project that aims to enhance operational performance and reduce energy consumption in district cooling plants.
The current research project – optimal chiller plant control, phase-I – aims to create a ‘smart controller’ capable of intelligently and independently managing district cooling plants to improve operational performance and decrease energy consumption, with minimal human interference.
Under the terms of the collaboration, the two entities are developing a software module that can be integrated with the district cooling plants’ control system to measure all external variables that impact the operational efficiencies of the plant, such as chilled water supply, return flow, outside temperature and humidity levels. The system will then automatically decide at what capacity major equipment such as chillers, water pumps and cooling towers need to operate at in order to meet customers’ cooling requirements in the most economical and energy efficient way.
Jasim Thabet, Tabreed’s CEO, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with the Masdar Institute in this important area and hope to utilize this project to gain some critical insights. Although we are in the data gathering stage at this point, this system offers interesting possibilities for the future as it can potentially lead to significant energy reductions.”
Dr Fred Moavenzadeh, President, Masdar Institute, said: “Our research initiatives aim to bring operational benefits to organizations while contributing to mitigating carbon emissions. At present, Masdar Institute’s Building Technology Research Center is conducting a total of 12 projects in the general area of demand-side energy efficiency and smart buildings/grid. Among them, six projects, sponsored by the Executive Affairs Authority of Abu-Dhabi (EAA), specifically investigate ways of making cooling equipment more efficient and assessing the impact of energy efficiency measures on cooling demand.
“The project with Tabreed illustrates Masdar Institute’s capability to contribute sustainable technology expertise to utilities and organizations in the UAE. Supported by the country’s leadership, our projects firmly remain relevant to sustainable development in Abu Dhabi and the UAE.”
Dr. Peter Armstrong, Associate Professor – Mechanical Engineering, and Dr. Afshin Afshari, Professor of Practice – Engineering Systems & Management, are the principal investigators for the project.
Dr Peter Armstrong said: “For the Tabreed project we will model and monitor a typical chiller plant in order to find cost-effective ways to reduce peak-demand, energy and carbon impacts. Actions may include variable-speed drives and multi-stage compressors as well as optimal control to coordinate operation of compressors, pumps and cooling towers. Phase 2 will consider cool storage and advanced controls to shift chiller load (and thus also electric utility load) to morning hours when cooler temperatures result in more efficient operation.”
Air conditioning accounts for 40-50% of all electrical energy consumption in Abu Dhabi and approximately 70% on hot summer days. Well-designed district cooling however consumes less energy than traditional cooling, which translates into significant cost and environmental benefits in the form of reduced C02 emissions.
Thabet added: “It is great to see two of Abu Dhabi’s leading institutions working together to create innovative solutions to one of the region’s biggest challenges.”
One of Tabreed’s plants in Mohammed bin Zayed City, Abu Dhabi, was selected for the pilot project. Any successful patents brought forth by this project, which is expected to be completed in one year, will be registered under both the Masdar Institute and Tabreed names.
Established as an on-going collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Masdar Institute integrates theory and practice to incubate a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, working to develop the critical thinkers and leaders of tomorrow. With its world-class faculty and top-tier students, the Institute is committed to finding solutions to the challenges of clean energy and climate change through education and research.