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INESC TEC participates in the definition of smart AC strategies for factories

INESC TEC, together with INEGI and P2E, is helping one of the IKEA factories in Portugal in the definition of smart control strategies for the ventilation and air conditioning system of the building. The main objective? Help the factory improving the energy efficiency of different systems and processes, such as dust or gas extraction, and the use of renewable resources, while achieving higher levels of comfort and indoor air quality.

11th September 2020

The project, called SmartClima, started in early 2020. By the beginning of 2021, the project’s team is expected to deliver a set of recommendations, an energy efficiency plan, and an engineering project for the industrial units in Paços de Ferreira. In addition to the issues related to AC and ventilation, the project will explore solutions for the production of photovoltaic energy, which include the local harvesting of energy and the potential use of other technologies associated with IKEA systems e.g. electronic conversion. Working on a project whose objective is to modernise the factory can only be possible through the adoption of said recommendations.

The first stage of the project required several field and technical study activities, in order to achieve a detailed diagnosis of the factory, which helped understanding the technical, technological and operational characteristics of the different systems. One of said systems is the ventilation system, with several locations identified, as well as the way the diverse units extract and circulate air. Above all, the project focused on the existence of specific phenomena, such as the pressure variation in certain spaces.

The role of INESC TEC, represented by the Centre for Power and Energy Systems (CPES), focuses on the electrical component. At the moment, INESC TEC is developing a series of studies, namely on consumption profiles and tariffs.

“Although the project is expected to last until the beginning of 2021, we’ve defined a series of improvements so far. Either through technical (changes in ventilation mechanisms) or operational (shifts review) alterations, as well as the coordinated use of some machines, we’re able to increase the energy efficiency of the industrial facilities and the use of local renewable energy”, explained David Rua, CPES researcher and coordinator of the energy management area.

These initiatives, which include the possibility of integrating renewable energy resources into the fabric of the factory, have a major environmental impact, and are a step towards reducing the carbon footprint of the industrial sector. The factories also benefit from these initiatives, not only because of the potential for economic savings in their operation, but also because they will be able to analyse and predict how the use of energy takes place in the infrastructures – by investing in energy efficient solutions and operating strategies. The factories will be able to take advantage of their own clean production technologies, with photovoltaic energy as their favoured mean in this context, and achieve the targets for reducing the carbon impact, enforced by the European Commission to the Member States.

CPES researchers David Rua, Leonel Oliveira and Ricardo Bessa are part of the team that is currently developing this study.

The INESC TEC researchers mentioned in this news piece are associated with INESC TEC.