In addition to traditional district heating and district cooling systems, the Energy Exchange Lab is able to investigate under real conditions low-temperature networks in which heat sources with different initial temperatures (from 30 °C) can be combined. The functionality of the systems can be replicated here on a small scale: from heat production through distribution to consumption by the end customer. This enables optimal network management and heat supply from multiple sources. This flexible facility allows for a wide range of configurations as well as tests on hardware and control software.
The district heating network and a solar thermal system are located on the outside area of the laboratory, while the interior is divided into two parts between a power generation system and the heat transfer stations. The power generation system is coupled to the solar thermal system and consists of a gas boiler, an Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) system and an absorption chiller. This system makes it possible to simulate and test a network-connected combined heat, power and cooling system (trigeneration). This allows the use of a non-programmable source of thermal and electrical energy to be investigated and optimised.
Two electric heat pumps allow emulation of consumers who extract heat from the network or feed it into the low-temperature network. It can be used to investigate interfaces through which the end user draws energy for heating and hot water production, and can feed energy back into the network when the heat pump is in reverse operation.
In the laboratory, control systems can be tested as well as the functionality of and the interaction between the various control modules, both at the level of the individual components of the circuit as well as throughout the system. In addition, the facility serves as a testing laboratory for innovative technologies such as Mini ORCs, absorption chillers, and absorption heat pumps that operate with liquid heat transfer media at temperatures up to 250 °C, or heat transfer stations in a district heating network.
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