N2B2: A system to optimise heating and cooling with predictive control

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The Construction Research and Innovation Group (GRIC) at the UPC is driving the N2B2 project to develop new technology so that heating and air conditioning can be turned on and off via predictive control. N2B2 is one of the projects that will receive a grant from the Barcelona Deep Tech Node to accelerate market launch through development of the technology.

The N2B2 technology that is being developed by the Construction Research and Innovation Group (GRIC) at the UPC enables a building’s heating and cooling systems to be turned on and off at the optimal time through predictive control. The aim is for the system to turn on just long enough in advance for the building to be at the required temperature at the designated time. In other words, the heating will not switch on earlier than necessary and have to be maintained (wasting energy) or turn on too late, resulting in discomfort for the building’s occupants. To achieve this, the system will adapt daily to the specific balance of indoor and outdoor temperatures. Consequently, the system needs past data on the building’s behaviour for a short period of time.

Unlike other solutions based on building information modelling (BIM) technologies or digital twins, this technology does not require detailed construction characteristics of all the building elements (for example, the structure or the installations). This means that the data that are required and the calculation time are cut significantly. Building managers or maintenance staff to not need specific technical knowledge to operate this system. N2B2 is a closed solution. Once the system’s learning process is completed it works on its own, although adjustments can be made to increase the accuracy of predictions depending on the real use of the building in which it is implemented.

In the next few months, tests are planned for the new system in several buildings in Catalan towns.

Accelerating technological development

Barcelona Deep Tech Node is a partnership to promote technological and innovative projects between Barcelona City Council, through Barcelona Activa, and the University of Barcelona (UB), the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) and the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), in addition to the UPC. Since the start of the initiative, a hundred projects and spin-offs from universities and research centres have participated in events, investment forums or mentoring sessions.

‘Proof of Concept’ grants of 225,000 euros have been created to facilitate the access of selected projects to funding, accelerate their technological development and cut the time it takes for them to reach the market. In addition, these grants will enable crucial actions to be designed for science and technology-based projects, such as undertaking market studies, formalising patents or presenting projects to investment forums, among others.


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