Artificial intelligence and smart valves for pipelines. Result: reduction in energy consumption for air conditioning of up to 90%. This is the latest idea from Cimberio di Novara, founded in 1957, which today employs 200 people. A project called Knolval, partly funded by the European Union as part of the Horizon 2020 program, developed thanks to the acquisition in January of Enersem, a branch of the Politecnico di Milano specializing in algorithms. They tested it in Cimberio’s own factory in Berzonno. Radiators have been installed to capture the heat from the machines and thus heat the water which is then introduced into the main system moved by the boiler. Valves connected to the Internet and artificial intelligence, they optimize operation leading to more than 75% heat recovery and less 90% system consumption.
” The potential ? According to the European Commission, there are 5 million 400,000 buildings on this continent, including industrial facilities and offices, which need to be made more energy efficient,” he comments. Roberto Cimberio, born in 1967, humanist education, head of the Novara company and grandson of Renzo, the founder. “And that’s what our system does: it makes central heating smart, without having to change systems and therefore with relatively low costs.”
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Heat recovery is therefore a variant of Knolval, the one applicable to warehouses where there is industrial production that generates heat, but is mainly intended for condominiums, offices and hospitals where it manages to reduce consumption by about 20 to 30 %. Results slightly better than those obtained with other solutions on the market, starting with that of the Canadian Braibox Ai, which adds connected regulation to the boiler, always managed by algorithms to avoid waste.
We try to avoid heating when it is not necessary and where it is not necessary, using thermostatic heads on the radiators or thermostats already installed on the different floors of the buildings as sensors, having a huge market of reference.: more than 50% of the energy produced in the world is used for air conditioning, and it is a world that is still technologically backward in which waste is transversal.
The particularity of the Cimberio solution lies in the fact of having combined the software of the valves to be included in the existing system, the SmartCim, which work as sensors and regulate the hot water demand of the boiler. The experiment began three years ago in the Norwegian Aerospace Research Center in Andøya, in the Lofoten Islands, where it was possible to reduce consumption by 30%. The project, as we said, was funded by the European Union with two million euros to which Cimberio then added another six to develop the technology. “And now, thanks to artificial intelligence, we have further refined this solution“explains the CEO of the company. “Data analysis is fundamental. They serve as indicators but also suggest the most virtuous behaviors to adopt. Or to have a more constant and comfortable temperature for the employees”.
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The cost is around a thousand euros for each valve installed, in the case of a condominium one is needed per apartment, and a few thousand per year for remote management. The total cost therefore depends on the size of the building. At Cimberio, they argue that it is proportional to consumption and that the expense is reimbursed in four years with the savings obtained. In Canada they have another model, although in this case they only install the controller connected to the boiler. You pay nothing for the first three months, then the company takes a cut of the savings. In this case, however, the strength lies in the version for industrial installations where the savings are record.
Smart home thermostats, from Google’s Nest to Germany’s Tado, are doing or trying to do a similar job. This time, however, the idea is applied to large buildings and the industrial sector. All made in Italy. It seems to be the result of a cutting-edge startup. And after all, Cimberio is, at least in its attitude, except that it is a 65-year-old company, like so many others that innovated with us long before the birth of Silicon Valley.