Project developers and construction companies are warming up to low-carbon heating and cooling solutions thanks to Hysopt software

Posted on 15 Jul 2021

Hysopt developed a design software that increases the performance of any HVAC installation by reducing CO2 emissions and energy usage without compromising on comfort.

An increasing number of companies and organisations are endorsing the energy transition. One of them is Antwerp-based Hysopt, a unique design software that helps building managers get the most out of their heating and cooling systems. We asked CEO and founder Roel Vandenbulcke how this software helps to reduce energy consumption while also assisting construction companies and project developers towards sustainable and cleantech HVAC solutions.

Where does the idea behind Hysopt come from?

“Hysopt was founded in 2013 as a spin-off company of the University of Antwerp. The company started as a valorisation project of previous extensive research, including my own PhD research. Since then, Hysopt has grown into a company whose 25 employees are active in Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom - and we still have more international aspirations.

We develop software to optimise HVAC installations (heating, ventilation and air conditioning). We do this for companies and organisations like hospitals, universities, offices and retail. The software is also used to optimise heat networks across Europe.”

What are the current biggest challenges in terms of ventilation and heating?

“Suboptimal installation designs are a major problem. Various highly performative components are put together in a suboptimal way, without accounting for certain hydraulic and control aspects. This lowers the total yield of the installation and makes it underperform quite significantly. Another problem is the decrease in expertise within the field, while the complexity increases. Buildings used to be built with just boilers for heating, whilst nowadays we see a combination of components such as boilers, heat pumps, cogeneration and geothermal energy storage. This divide between knowledge and complexity causes lots of problems, especially for designers of HVAC installations.”

How does Hysopt deal with these problems?

“We believe that we can drastically lower the energy consumption and CO2 emissions of HVAC installations while maintaining or improving thermal comfort. This is possible because there is a lot of optimisation potential in existing installations. We do this by using software which predicts the behavior of these installations and then comparing the effective performance and the expected performance of the installation.”

What does the software do?

“We create a virtual model which incorporates all the laws of physics, relevant to that installation. Our software understands the installation that is being built and can simulate the energy consumption of the installation, the CO2 emissions, the investment cost… This mathematical model predicts reality within a virtual context. It is called a ‘digital twin’, a virtual replica of the physical installation - be it an existing installation you’d like to renovate or a new installation. The Hysopt software can predict the behavior of the installation and recreate the entire system, which allows us to compare different alternatives to the system. This way of working provides way more options than a regular design created by a consultancy using traditional static design tools. And when we provide scientifically backed arguments, we can often guide the customer towards a more sustainable solution. By being transparent in the design process, we are able to promote sustainable technology more efficiently.”

What are the benefits of this way of working?

“The software enables us to maintain a set budget. In the construction industry, HVAC installers often start to charge additional costs once the design is put out to contract. They might even want to change the initial design of the installation. This results in a – sometimes heated - discussion between the designer and the installer, often resulting in major price increases.”

“Our software has been utilised in more than two hundred large-scale optimisation projects. We realised an average energy reduction of 30% and a CO2 reduction of 40%. When we are involved from the start these reductions are much higher as we have more freedom to bring together components for the best possible design and cut oversizing.”

You’ve already mentioned that you promote sustainable energy solutions. Are clients eager to opt for these cleantech solutions?

“We still notice a sense of uncertainty when it comes to investments in sustainability and cleantech - even though governments and investors often advocate for these types of solutions. Clients tend to doubt the benefits and efficiency of these solutions. However, we can eliminate this doubt completely with our digital twin model. By predicting all the gains and benefits in a virtual context, we provide all the facts necessary to motivate our choice for sustainable solutions. This way of working also allows us to motivate any additional cost. This brings us back to our idea that the problem doesn’t come from the individual components but from a poorly designed installation. I really believe that we play an important role in optimising the expected performances of sustainable components on a system level.

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