The world is ever increasingly becoming SMART. Cars, buildings, roads, networks and so forth are endowed with perception and interaction and incorporate within them intelligent elements able to sense the local environment and act on it (sensors and actuators) and share (talk) with a variety of entities, namely people and machines or systems. The virtual place where such communication takes place is the world of the internet, so we talk about the Internet of Things – IOT.
This is not only a fascinating technology showcase per se, but it is a new technological paradigm that paves the avenue to a new way to live and interact one another.
GAS Networks too are part in this global revolution. The gas is indeed a great resource but given the inherent hazards and relative safety measures and certifications involved, it has to be dealt with the appropriate know-how and skills. Embedding a gas grid with intelligence will lead to a significant improvement in its operation, safety and the environmental friendliness.
Real-time monitoring of key components of the gas network is key to an effective control.
In the case of distribution networks, a number of pressure reducing stations have components that are mechanically actuated hence they do not need to be supplied by the grid and often case are not even supervised. If they are, they are supplied with batteries, which inherently offer a set and limited storage which is not sufficient to support the enegy-demanding real-time communication. In other cases, the RTU are fed with solar panels, whose performance is limited by the local weather conditions. This results in a poor ability to control by the remote control systems.
AIRWATT addresses and overcomes all these issues with a microturbine-based seld powered real-time monitoring and control system.
It is a local energy harvesting source, that can:
– Provide electric energy with no need for batteries
– Provide electricity with continuous service
– Power from 4 to 80 Watt exploiting the gas pressure drops
– Enable real-time communications with the remote control centre
– IOT Ready
Within the scope of AIRWATT Project, Advanced Microturbines will provide a new high performance microturbine, conceived and designed for the gas distribution networks and FAST will implement an ATEX certified RTU, able to fully exploit the availability of energy provided by the microturbine.
AIRWATT, microturbine and associated Remote Terminal Unit (RTU), is designed to be part of modern supervisory, control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems for gas pipelines. SCADA systems are part of the machine-to-machine (M2M) communication revolution and the emerging Industrial Internet of Things (IoT); the idea being to gather as much data as possible (big data) about the system, be it a gas pipeline or a water network, feeding that information into a central control point. The more information that can be gathered about the condition of the network, the more its operation can be optimized.
In this respect, the Figure details how the energy output achieved by the AirWatt microturbine influences and enhances the functionalities that can be included in the RTU and other sensing and actuation devices.
The final objective is a smart grid, where the state of the network is real-time monitored and respond accordingly, controlling the inputs and the topology of the gas network to react to the demand of the end users.