What is my PhD research about?

Collective thermal networks are thermal distribution systems that connect multiple end-users to common heat (and cooling) production units. The performance of such systems is generally characterised by distribution temperatures, as they affect heat losses and production efficiency. High temperatures are required for domestic hot water (DHW) comfort, but space heating (SH) is possible at lower temperatures and cooling water temperatures are required for space cooling (SC). Traditionally, there is a central "boiler room", where all heat and cooling production units are installed. 

This means that either the supply temperature is set at the hottest demand (DHW) when only one supply pipe is available (e.g. in a Combined Heat Distribution Circuit, in Dutch "combilus"), thus SC is not possible, or multiple distribution circuits are installed for the different temperature levels. 

The goal of my PhD research is to investigate innovative collective thermal networks in apartment buildings that increase the overall performance by optimising the concept lay-out and by optimising the control. For optimising the concept, I take account of decentralised DHW storage tanks and prosumer-based networks to increase the flexibility of the system. This flexibility and performance of the innovative systems is of course linked to the control strategies implemented. For optimising the control, I first look into rule-based optimisations, which go beyond the state-of-the-art. These rule-based optimisations are then the baseline for further optimisations where I use Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL). These data-oriented control optimisations with DRL are in collaboration with IDLab UAntwerp. 

On the "Conferences" subpage, you will find a list of conferences where I have presented my recent works and will attend in the future. The "Publications" page lists all my publications.

TETRA projects related to this PhD research are Kwalitatieve Warmtenetten and Koeling 2.0

*This research is funded by Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO) [1S08622N – SBWT7B].

If you have any questions or want to have a discussion on this topic, feel free to contact me!


Ing. Stef Jacobs
Campus Groenenborger, building Z.342
Groenenborgerlaan 171
2020 Antwerp, België