IQ-Pump: One-Pipe Hydronic Heating 4.0
The IQ-pump project aims at developing a smart control device for one-pipe hydronic heating systems. The device comprising a micropump serves as a means of controlling flow of heat transfer fluid through an adjacent heat exchanger and thus controls the thermal power entering a room or zone. It does so without using a flowmeter, only by a virtual flow sensor. Apart from heat control, a heat exchanger diagnostics and heat metering may be performed. These devices are connected in series.
At first, we aimed at constructing a testbed allowing for precise measurement of mass flow and thermal power of a heat exchanger either in one-pipe or two-pipe configuration. The testbed is used to prove design concepts, mainly hydraulic separation between circuits and pump housing, and validate developed virtual sensors of mass flow and thermal power. The testbed controls Matlab/Simulink via in-house developed UPI Rapid Prototyping Platform, that allows for either remote connection or embedding into a PLC.
The design of IQ-pump first involved mechanical arrangement and sizing of the two T-joints, pump housing and thermometer sensors. Several design iterations also occurred on the pump drive and its control electronics. Virtual sensors of mass and thermal power are now being developed and refined. Current maximal absolute deviation of the mass flow sensor is 25 l/h. Worth noting is also the algorithm of a heat transfer fluid detection also depending solely on pump motor measurements. The technology is protected by two patents.
We are currently finishing the prototype, and we began planning its pilot testing in a real building. One-pipe hydronics systems comprising IQ-pump control devices constitute, in our view, a way of integration of the Industry 4.0 concept into the hydronic heating systems of the future.