The Institute of Computer Technology at the TU Wien, in cooperation with several Austrian research partners, develops an intelligent switching device for energy management in industrial and commercial settings.
The ongoing increase in renewable energy sources create an increased demand for intelligent and flexible components to face the new challenges that go along with this development. This does not only apply to the large transmission grids, but also to low-voltage grids and even electrical circuits in industry and commerce. An Austrian consortium with partners from industry and science developed an intelligent switching device that combines previously separate functions into a single, intelligent and flexible device. The “Smart Breaker”, developed as part of the Climate and Energy Fund’s pilot project iniGrid, not only offers switching and protection functions, but also enables monitoring and remote control, opening up completely new possibilities for operational energy management. The use of semiconductor technology makes this innovative switch of the new generation compact inexpensive – an innovation that will cause attention, even on an international scale.
All-in-one Solution to Increase Energy Efficiency in Businesses
The intelligent switch offers great advantages and opportunities, especially for industry and commerce. Mark Stefan, the Project manager from AIT, describes the typical application of this technology using a production plant with various circuits for machines, lighting, ventilation and other systems. “Replacing the traditional circuit breakers with “Smart Breakers” still guarantees full overvoltage protection and, in addition, gives the customer absolute transparency about the energy flows in his system by exposing additional measuring functions.” This allows the customer to determine which machines are used, how much power they consume and which devices operate unnecessarily at night. The Institute for Computer Technology, in cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria, also developed an energy management system that can evaluate the data flow obtained by the new measuring functionalities and visualize them on screen. This enables the operations manager to keep an eye on energy flows at all times and, when necessary, to intervene to optimize energy costs. The energy management system also provides interfaces for advanced control systems that can automatically adjust energy consumption to dynamic production processes or price developments in the energy market to further increase operational efficiency.
Cost-Effective, Compact and Secure
Implementing this functionality with conventional technology would require, in addition to each circuit breaker, an energy meter, a remote trigger, and a communication unit. For application in the industrial domain, such a conventional solution would be too expensive. Using semiconductor-based technology, the new “Smart Breakers” combined all these functionalities into a single cost-effective and compact device. Thanks to this cost reduction and orientation towards modern safety standards in the implementation of the device, the large-scale use of this technology in industrial operations and production facilities is now possible.
Since summer 2017, the system is being field tested in the “Sonnenwelt Großschönau” exhibition in Lower Austria.
As of December 2017, an interactive demonstration of this technology will be available in the “Welios Science Center” in Wels to illustrate the technology and its impact in future energy systems. Starting from March 2018, the same demonstration will be available to the visitors of the “Sonnenwelt Großschönau”.
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH – Center for Energy & Center for Digital Safety & Security
Eaton Industries (Austria) GmbH
University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria– F&E GmbH
Infineon Technologies Austria AG
Linz Strom Netz GmbH
MOOSMOAR Energies OG
Sprecher Automation GmbH
Technische Universität Wien – Institut für Computertechnik
Additional (external) Project Partners
Ars Electronica Linz GmbH & Co. KG