University Uses LONWORKS ®System to Make
University Uses LONWORKS® System to
Make R&D Lab 70% More Efficient
Portela de Carnaxide, Portugal
Aveiro University is heavily involved in R&D
work and was looking to support its research
teams with a new facility. The university wanted to create an energy-efficient building, but
was concerned that the chemical labs, which
needed special exhaust and ventilation systems to manage dangerous fumes, would be
costly to operate.
Working with Contimetra, the university used
LONWORKS technology to create a BAS that
greatly reduced the costs typically associated
with running chemical labs. The new BAS has
automatic controls for managing airflow in the
labs, and gives the maintenance team a single interface for managing the building’s various HVAC systems.
• New building uses up to 70% less energy
than non LONWORKS enabled labs.
• LONWORKS technology reduced cabling
costs by 30%.
• Increased safety for lab workers.
Since its founding in 1973, Aveiro University has quickly become a
leading center for R&D, with 15 research units currently involved in
nearly 300 projects in Portugal and the rest of Europe. As part of its
expansion efforts, the university, which has a student population of
15,000, wanted to add a new building to support its scientific work.
The building, which would house a series of chemical labs, required
a special system to manage ventilation, in order to reduce exposure
to toxic and hazardous fumes. Like most chemical labs, the new
building would need special workstations, called fume hoods, which
make it safer to handle and mix chemicals. The hoods use exhaust
fans to remove toxic and hazardous fumes, and, if necessary, can
remove smoke caused by a chemical fire.
The simplest way to run a fume hood is to run the fan at a constant
level throughout the workday. But that’s not very efficient. It means
fans might be running when there are no fumes to collect, wasting
energy. The university wanted to find a better way to manage the
fume hoods to save energy, increase efficiency, and improve safety.
Contimetra, a system integrator in Portela de Canaxide, Portugal,
was hired to create a building automation system (BAS) that would
monitor and control the fume hoods along with the rest of the building’s HVAC systems. Contimetra chose Echelon’s LONWORKS technology — an open, extensible architecture that lets control devices
from multiple manufacturers interact with each other — for the BAS.
Contimetra equipped the building’s fume hoods with LONWORKS
enabled components that make operation automatic. Each fume
hood is a standalone unit with a protective glass panel, called a
sash, which provides access to the work area. Chemists open the
sash when they need to use the workstation, and close the sash
when they’re done.
Each fume hood has a LONWORKS enabled variable air
volume (VAV) controller that monitors changes in airflow. It lets the exhaust fans adjust the volume flow,
moving more air when the sash is open and less
each lab is managed independently. This improves
safety and makes the building more efficient.
“Compared to the other labs on campus, the new
building, with its automatic controls, delivers a real
when the sash is closed. The fans can run in different
modes — minimum, normal, and emergency — for
even greater efficiency. The VAV controllers in each
lab are connected to the room’s air handling unit
(AHU) and a redundant system of exhaust fans to
ensure adequate ventilation at all times. If the fans are
particularly busy, the room’s AHU stabilizes air pressure to maintain the right working environment.
cost benefit,” says Emídio Barros, Site Manager at
the university. “With LONWORKS technology, we’re saving on a daily basis.”
The LONWORKS enabled equipment ensures exact
measurements over long periods, even in lowpressure situations. Volume flow sensors in the VAV
controller are used to increase air flow in case of a
chemical fire, and lab workers can override automatic
controls if they need to. Acoustic and visual alarms
built into each operator terminal provide fast alerts in
case of an emergency.
All Together Now
Having equipped each fume hood with its own dedicated electronics, Contimetra began constructing the
rest of the BAS system. Using Echelon’s LonMaker®
Turbo Edition, the integrator linked all the fume hoods
together, making it possible to gather all sensor, actuator, and controller information and report it to the
network. Contimetra then connected the network to
PCVue from ARC Informatique, a software interface
used to monitor and control operations. The PCVue
software, together with the LONWORKS network, gives
the maintenance team a single point of control for the
entire building. Each lab has its own process for air
control, tailored to the equipment it supports, and
The fume hoods are just one aspect of the BAS.
LONWORKS technology made it possible to integrate
all the building’s HVAC systems, including hardware
and software from several different vendors, into one
comprehensive system. The system’s intelligence is
distributed throughout the network, so it doesn’t rely
on a single computer for operation. If a fault occurs in
any of the building’s systems — air conditioning,
water heating and cooling, ventilation — the software
automatically emails the maintenance crew. Crew
members can quickly and easily access the control
software from anywhere on campus through an
An added benefit of the LONWORKS network was
reduced installation cost. Compared to a system that
uses analog equipment to monitor the fume hoods,
the new system required 30 percent less cabling. This
lowered the bill of materials and made the network
easier to install.
LONWORKS based control networks are changing the way
we think of and interact with the devices that surround
us. Learn how you can benefit from LONWORKS technology: Visit www.echelon.com, call 1 888 ECHELON, or
contact your local Echelon sales office or distributor.
550 Meridian Ave.
San Jose, CA 95126
1 408 938 5200
1 888 ECHELON
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