Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) manages the “National Sustainable Building Energy Test-bed” (NSBET) located in CIT’s Nimbus Centre
This facility is a whole-building ‘energy and power management technology demonstrator’, scalable to a district or campus level. It is available to national and international commercial entities within the Energy space as an enabler to trial Research & Development work, particularly within the areas of Demand Side Management, and issues around Intermittency.
The test-bed is also available for experimental work to other Higher Education institutions and researchers both nationally and internationally through European Commission funded research projects.
The project consisted of Enerpower upgrading all of the heating circulation pumps to energy efficient smart pumps. Installation of heat meters, filters and pressure differential sensors on all of the heating circuits. The installation of a new 20,000l buffer tank to work in conjunction with the new CHP plant, also the design and installation of a new controls strategy to allow the building to be used as a live test bed for experiments with the heating system.
The project produced many challenges.
Firstly, the heating risers are very small rooms that Enerpower installed. Installing all of the new equipment into these tight spaces made many aspects of the work more difficult than in normal cases.
Secondly, the requirements for the new control system were very exact and required our controls subcontractor to create a bespoke controls architecture to meet the requirements while integrating several different software packages to meet all of the access control and reporting requirements.
Thirdly, working on a live campus always carries additional requirements from the point of view of programing work and health and safety.
Finally, works were required in the main plant room to tie the new buffer tank, CHP and existing gas boilers together. This again meant working within tight spaces to get the required result, with the added difficulty of doing it all at high level in relatively large pipework.
To further complicate matters at the end of the project, the control system while working was not updating fast enough and required a reconfiguring of the control architecture which took several months to complete.
All in all this was an interesting project that needed Enerpower’s project management capablility to get it across the line to become a success.
Benefits of the Test-bed for Industry
- Access to diverse expertise at Nimbus from numerous areas such as energy, electronics, process control, etc. With the potential for cross pollination of ideas
- Large facility for installing new technologies to be trialled available to private Industry and Academic institutions
- Generation of real test data on technologies that will be made available to researchers from those fields
- Development of more efficient technologies helping Ireland meet clean targets and have reduced energy savings
- Potential for collaboration with other companies in the energy sector through linked projects
The test-bed project establishes a critical mass of building energy, energy systems, and power systems researchers in CIT, allowing the Institute to sustain cutting edge research in the energy space.
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