Published on: 02-Jul-2020
A prototype that enables the air-conditioning system to be controlled by artificial intelligence (AI) took home the top prize at the inaugural ENGIE x NTU Innovation Challenge held by ENGIE Factory Asia-Pacific, the innovation arm of ENGIE Asia Pacific.
In the trial environment for the challenge, the winning team EcoBuilding from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), used a system of multi-variant sensing for predictive controls of air-conditioning. They achieved more than 20% energy savings and improved comfort through machine learning of room occupancy and air quality metrics. The final judging of the top three teams was held virtually on 24 June 2020.
Open to all university students in Singapore, the challenge is jointly organised by ENGIE and NTUitive, the innovation and enterprise company of NTU Singapore.
Over an 8-month period, participants had special access to the facilities of the JurongHealth Campus (Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Jurong Community Hospital) to creatively solve challenges and achieve energy-efficiency and smart building solutions. The teams were mentored by industry executives in sustainability, energy and smart city technology, and received up to S$10,000 in prototype funding.
Introducing AI to hospital operations
Ensuring service efficiency and optimisation of electrical systems is an important part of ENGIE's services for its customers. Through the partnership with NTFGH, the students proved how artificial intelligence and other technologies can be incorporated seamlessly into hospital operations for predictive maintenance, digitisation of services and ultimately, autonomous building management.
"We are delighted by this opportunity to collaborate with NTU and the JurongHealth Campus to support our customers' low carbon transition initiatives. We are impressed by the works of the participating students and we are glad that through this engaging challenge, we will discover innovative solutions for the benefits and continual improvement of our customers. This partnership is the testament of our commitment to further enhancing energy efficiency for the country, especially in the healthcare sector, through our expertise in provision of sustainable client solutions," said Pierre Cheyron, CEO, ENGIE South East Asia.
Mr Ng Kian Swan, Chief Operating Officer of NTFGH and JCH, and Director of Jurong Medical Centre explained, "Healthcare institutions are critical areas where we need to continually innovate and adopt the latest technologies to improve the health environment for safe and quality care. Hosting the student on our campus was an important gateway in the competition where they were able to work with live data and test the feasibility of their theories when applied to an actual environment – and further refine their ideas for a scalable solution."
Highlighting the importance to develop youth in the community, Quentin Vaquette, Managing Director of ENGIE Factory Asia-Pacific said, "We believe that entrepreneurs will play a pivotal role in driving the energy transition toward renewable and sustainable sources. This collaboration represents a platform for nurturing talents who are tackling massive challenges in the future of energy and smart city."
Echoing this, Dr Alex Lin, Interim Chief Executive Officer of NTUitive, said, "Innovation Challenges are an excellent avenue that exposes students to realistic business problems. Working with industry mentors, business owners, and multi-disciplinary peers, students gain deeper insights into the issues and discover possible solutions. The ENGIE x NTU Innovation Challenge doesn't just find a solution to the problem, it enables ENGIE to discover talents, and allows students to learn outside the standard curriculum."
Yet another key milestone, the ENGIE x NTU Innovation Challenge strengthens the collective goal to accelerate energy transition together with entrepreneurs and startups. The winning team, together with the other two finalist teams at the final presentation have also received prototyping awards. Following this challenge, all three teams will continue to explore how to build a startup with ENGIE and access further venture capital funding.
About the Winning Team – EcoBuilding
The HVAC of a building is responsible up to 56% of energy consumption, and much wasted through overcooling. Team EcoBuilding has created a system of multivariant sensing (humidity, radiant heat, CO2, etc) for predictive control of air-conditioning. The trial achieved more than 20% savings and better comfort through narrowing temperature swings. The proposed solution uses multiple parameters to make predictive decision on air-conditioning control as opposed to only temperature in existing systems.
Team EcoBuilding consists of the following members:
- Mr. Yang Shiyu (MAE PhD student and ERI@N research associate)
- Mr. Nithiakuhan Uthayakumar (MAE UG final year student)
- Mr. Yeo Wei Jie (MAE UG final year student)
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