Urban Energy Lab 4.0: development of new infrastructure for energy research at RWTH Aachen University

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Mit einer Fördersumme von 4,9 Millionen Euro startet zum 1.7.2018 an der RWTH Aachen der Aufbau neuer Infrastruktur für die Energieforschung

On 1st of July 2018 RWTH Aachen University, with the participation of the Faculties of Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, was awarded the interdisciplinary infrastructure project Urban Energy Lab 4.0 with a funding of € 4.9 million from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The project brings together scientists from E.ON Energieforschungszentrum (E.ON ERC), Centers for Wind Power Drives (CWD) and the Chair of Energy Efficient Building (E3D). The project, coordinated by Prof. Dirk Müller, creates new experimental facilities at the RWTH Aachen. The new infrastructure expands the possibilities to solve current research questions of the energy transition.

Together, the participating scientists want to create a unique and highly networked infrastructure for the conception and analysis of new urban energy supply concepts. Future urban energy systems are characterised by decentralised generation, sector coupling and the new possibilities of digitisation. The planning, construction and operation of components of these energy systems must therefore meet a wide range of requirements that can only be met through interdisciplinary and synergetic interaction between construction technology, technical building equipment, network planning and automation.

The new research infrastructure is a flexible experimental field for controllable experiments from the supply of a room to the energetic observation of a city quarter. New technologies can be tested and sustainable solution concepts for a safe and environmentally friendly urban energy supply can be developed. The necessary scaling from real scale to laboratory scale is done using a hardware-in-the-loop platform. A power supply system with the size of an entire city is replaced in some areas by complex simulations so that real building blocks of the energy system can be operated in the laboratory under realistic boundary conditions. This hardware-in-the-loop approach is unique in this scale and with the planned flexible expandability and its interdisciplinary structure.

The following investments will be made over the next three years for this networked laboratory of a city quarter:

- Test environment for investigating user comfort and user behaviour (Indoor Climate Laboratory subproject)

- Test benches for the inspection of building components (FlexFass subproject),

- Refrigerant laboratory for the electrification of heat supply with heat pumps (subproject HELENA)

- High-performance systems for real-time mapping of energy flows in a city quarter (subproject RTLab).

All elements are networked with the help of intelligent automation and supplemented by simulations (subproject InFIS).


RWTH Aachen University, E.ON Energy Research Center
Institute for Energy Efficient Buildings and Indoor Climate
Dr.-Ing. Rita Streblow