Urban pollution, human health and district heating

The European Community, Italy and its Regions have been in the last years at the centre of a series of initiatives aimed at a reduction of pollution of the air in the urban centres.

The urban pollution is due to high concentration of the pollutants in the air (exhausted gases of cars and of boilers used by buildings and climate) and also to the specific characteristics of urban areas.

There exist several strategies aimed at improving the quality of the air in the urban areas:

  1. use of specialised trees able to capture the CO2 and store the excess of it as biomass that can then be reused
  2. use of District Heating and Cooling to heat or cool down facilities erected in urban areas among which there are condominium, schools, public offices, nursery houses, hospitals, swimming pools and so forth
  3. relocation of industrial activities in surrounding areas outside cities and surrounded by forests and green areas; if the district heating network is powered by a cogenerative power plant, it is advisable that it is erected outside the city
  4. improvement of the shadowing and air circulation in urban areas in order to mitigate the air temperature
  5. use of much more performing cars and in general transportation means in line with a sustainable mobility
  6. use of renewable sources for the generation of electricity and thermal energy together with the adoption of smart grid technologies
  7. change in life style towards a more sustainable regime more respectful of natural resources.

These strategies allow to drastically reduce the pollutants in the atmosphere in particular the so called PM10. PM10 means Particular Matter ≤ 10 µm, that is particular matter whose dimensions are less or equal to 10 micron. Particulate matter in the air can enter the human body, affecting the cardiovascular system as well as other major organs. Chronic exposure leads to a number of health risks.  

The recently published study shows, based on the available information, that traffic (25%), combustion and agriculture (22%), domestic fuel burning (20%), natural dust and salt (18%), and industrial activities (15%) are the main sources of particulate matter contributing to cities’ air pollution. However, there are significant differences between various regions of the world.

For this reason the European Community and its member states have elaborated in the last years a series of rules and regulations to reduce the urban pollution and consequently to improve human health together with an awareness campaign to explain the risks and the strategies above.

Among these, the most important ones for Cogenpower relate to the use of District Heating and Cooling, the emphasis about energy efficiency and saving of primary energy. These areas represent specialities for Cogenpower as you can see browsing our website or simply getting in contact with us.

In conclusion the increased sensitivity of all the European Institutions (till the local ones), the presence of new technologies and a renovated awareness towards the theme of preservation are channelling a very important momentum towards urban transformations that, if implemented shortly and successfully, can guarantee sustainability for cities.

Contact us if you want to discuss it further with a specialist!

Genesis of Anaconda technology, an Artificial Intelligence CHPDH system: not exactly a Star Wars episode

Because of the upcoming Star Wars episode, we all have had a chance in these days to re-watch the famous saga and certainly in our case we have used this opportunity to see if in Star Wars there were systems similar to a modern Artificial Intelligence CHPDH system. The analysis has shown that in the famous saga there are quite a few of them, but most of them are lacking some key features such as the ability to predict and to act as humans would do.

Before introducing all the features of Anaconda technology, a modern Artificial Intelligence technology able to produce electricity, heat, cool and smartly and efficiently distribute them, it is relevant to have an understanding of how any CHPDH system works. CHPDH stands for Combined Heat and Power District Heating.

CHP, DH and CHPDH: an introduction

Combined Heat and Power (CHP), sometimes referred to as cogeneration, is the simultaneous production of electricity and heat, both of which are utilised as produce, or, in the case of heat, stored for future use.

District Heating (DH) scheme provides instead heat from a central heat source to more than one building, dwelling or customer and a Combined Heat and Power District Heating (CHPDH) scheme, which combined both together, utilises the heat generated by the CHP plant as the source for heat, which would otherwise be vented into the atmosphere, and distributes it to buildings, dwellings or in general customers.

Figure 1. District heating network (left) and house interface unit (right) (R.Wiltshire 2011).

The main element of a CHP system is amachine that produces electricity and heat.

How much money can you save by reducing the thermostat by 1°C?

Many times it happens to read that it suffices to reduce by 1°C the thermostat of your rooms to cut the heating bill by 30%. Is this true?

First of all, I would like to express a note of extreme caution regarding the information on energy, energy savings and energy technologies you read about in the newspapers and hear on the radio and television. These media most of the times report information that is not factual, is not properly understood or, in the worst case, is plainly false.

For example, a typical mistake is that the media usually report an average heating fuel cost that refers to the entire year, but we all know that the vast majority of the heating energy consumption is going to take place during the three coldest months, when the costs are going to be the highest in any case, because of supply and demand dynamics.

This means that when average prices go down the reduction in heating bills is much lower than what is reported in the news, while when they go up the heating bills will be much higher than what is reported in the news. The majority of the enquiries that we receive every year from our customers are affected by this misrepresentation.