Data and research

Without good a understanding of heat demands, temperature requirements and real world equipment performance you can’t design the lowest life cycle cost heat network. The absence of this data leads to overdesign which increases capital and operating costs. Working for a DH operator allowed Martin to gather and use real data to the benefit of operating and future schemes, but it also made Martin aware how much easily accessible and useful data was not being utilised or via a spreadsheet it was slow process.

As Carbon Alternatives Martin suggested to Guru Systems that Government SBRI funding could be used to develop a system to collect and analyse the technical data every heat meter produces. The aim of the analysis was to rapidly highlight where there were issues on the heat network causing poor operating efficiency. The other ambition of the research was to study a sample of the many new and poorly performing heat network using the meter data analysis to identify the issues, to undertake remedial works and measure the performance improvement. Through this research work we achieved and learnt much and from this work Guru Pinpoint was born as was Fairheat. As part of this work Martin developed a test procedure for HIU and 6 HIUs were tested, and this is the origin of the UK HIU Test now run by BESA of which Martin remains the Technical lead.

Carbon Alternatives have since helped Secure Meters develop eWatch heat to analyse data from heat meters to identify performance issues and to verify correct commissioning of heating system and HIU.

HIU Testing

Further OxFutures funded work has enable monitoring of the Springbok heat network to identify options to reduce heat losses and minimise boiler cycling. And OxFutures funded the installation and monitoring of weather compensation on gas boilers as a practical route checking theoretical calculations done to estimate the required radiator temperatures in houses retrofitted with heat pumps or a heat network. This was part of the reseach looking at the ecominic optimisation of ambinet loop heat networks that arose from the issues found during a heat network feasibilty study.

Martin regularly attends heat network related conferences, focusing on the Scandinavian ones, eg the 4DH, and Solar district heating conferences where there is huge knowledge and experience for the UK to drawn on. Martin has presented papers at a number of conferences see publications for details.

Martin has been a national ‘expert’ on a number of IEA DHC research projects, providing review and comment on the research being undertaken.

Carbon Alternatives has range of test equipment and data loggers that allows improved confidence in work done e.g.:

  • monitoring the temperature of the lake at Hinksey pool, over a year, increases the certainty of the heat pump operating CoP and hence reduces financial risk
  • an hour of monitoring of HIU and radiator temperatures in a property robustly pins down the source of poor performance and hence which contractor needs to fix it
  • a pulse logger installed on a gas meter can give an understanding of the demand variation over the day, the week and the seasons – which allows more accurate techno-economic modelling, more robust financial projections and reduced overdesign margins.