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MATES-nZEB is the acronym for the project “The Management of Local Aquifers for Thermal Storage as a Clean Technology for nearly Zero Energy Buildings”. The project proposal, identified by the project code PN-II-PT-PCCA-2013-4-1307, is financed through the contract 89/2014, within the program Partnerships in Priority Areas, developed with the support of MEN - UEFISCDI.

The project proposes a smart approach, based on the usage of the ATES technology, for facilitating the supply of energy form geothermal sources to nearly Zero Energy Buildings, as being one of the most eco-friendly and efficient energy sources that can be used in urban and industrial areas. This objective can be achieved by proving that the ATES technology is feasible, mature and sufficiently reliable technique that can become an economical alternative for long term storage of thermal energy, while in the same time guaranteeing compliance with the European Directives and the 20/20/20 objectives through the considerable reduction of CO2 emissions (by up to 30%). The use of the ATES technology also minimizes the ecological impact of central heating power plants and develops the perspectives for creating healthy and profitable businesses based on renewable sources of energy.

The project is based on the smart integration of heating and cooling systems with the temporary storage of thermal energy in aquifers. This technology will be applied by creating an nZEB experimental pilot, as a case study, in the INCERC Bucharest Headquarters with in NIRD URBAN-INCERC. This full scale experimental pilot may facilitate the removal of the normative and technological barriers and for promoting long-term investment strategies, for the full scale usage of ATES, by creating a good entrance of the ATES systems on the market and by the transfer of this technology to the proper areas in Romania.

The main result of the project is the implementation of the ATES technology on the support of an experimental pilot, monitoring and evaluating the possibility of using this technology, developing materials that can facilitate the use of these systems: technical solutions for the implementation of ATES systems in buildings with high energy performance, the development of innovative business models for the application of ATES to nZEB buildings, recommended procedures for authorizing ATES systems.

The project will be ran by a consortium formed by three research entities of national representativeness and complementary experience, within the areas of efficient usage of energy in buildings (NIRD URBAN-INCERC – coordinator), efficient heating and cooling using heat pump systems (UTCB) and the sustainable management of water resources (INHGA), and two private entities within the fields of expertise of implementing modern HVAC heat pump based solutions (PROMTEH) and developing business solutions (BDG).



Finalizing the interior systems: The team from the PROMTEH partner making the final adjustments for the interior systems. The system is dimensioned for the usage of a thermal agent with reduces parameters for minimizing the entropy (low temperature heating, high temperature cooling) (Source: NIRD URBAN-INCERC).


Data logging: Example of an extract from a file for usage/storage of data from the measuring sensors. The hydrostatic height in the wells (based on the Black Sea level), the water flows (in this case the pumps were stopped) and three (borehole) temperature readings, are presented (Source: NIRD URBAN-INCERC).


Dynamic numerical simulations for calculating the aquifer water flow
Taking into account the integration of the storage tank in the heating and cooling system, a statistical calculation shows that for the winter conditions a water flow of 3.2 mc/h will be sufficient for covering the heating demand of the pilot from the ATES source, with a probability of over 99.9% (Source: NIRD URBAN-INCERC)


The implementation of the thermal plant based on the ATES solution:
With our partner PROMTEH, a thermal plant for the ATES solution having the following characteristics was implemented: - heat pump with 3 regulation gears, for ensuring a maxim efficiency especially in the intermediary season by correlating its thermal output with the heating demand of the building; - variable speed circulation pumps; - heat exchanger dimensioned for reducing the local pressure losses for minimizing the power usage of the circulation pumps; - power panel for the control of the submersible pumps, circulation pumps, heat pump, communicating with the automation unit; - storage tank (buffer) for covering for the temporary differences between the heading/cooling demand and available thermal energy and/or covering the spikes in the demand.


Software for data acquisition: The logging of the data measured by the sensors, the data rendering and data storage is made automatically, through specially made software (The screen dump made during the coding / verification of the data acquisition software. In the main screen the logged temperatures in the boreholes and their special distribution, can be seen. Source: NIRD URBAN-INCERC (2017))


Monitoring well: An additional well was made exclusively for monitoring purposes, in order to be able to analyze the storage in the aquifer (Source: NIRD URBAN-INCERC)


The installation of the submersible pumps: : For ensuring a maximum a efficiency of the system, latest generation variable speed, submersible pumps were used. They were introduced in the system only after all the particulate matter in suspension was eliminated in order to avoid damaging the rotor and changing the pump characteristics. The pressure transducer used for monitoring the water level in the boreholes is presented in the image Source: NIRD URBAN-INCERC(2017))


Building zones: The ATES based system is going to be used for the heating and cooling of an area from the pilot building (rooms for the Ground floor, First floor and Second floor). The size of the conditioned area was restricted by the reduced possibility of water restitution in the Mostiştea aquifer, taking also into account a limitation on the cost of investment. The water restitution is going to be made through a larger number of boreholes (1 boreholes of water extraction – 2 boreholes for water restitution). NIRD URBAN-INCERC has tried (including through PN-II-RU-TE-2014-4) obtaining research funds for extending the pilot system with Renewable Energy Sources systems, complementary to the solutions implemented in ctr. 89/2014, but until now was unable to find the needed funds. For balancing the energy demand for cooling with the energy demand for heating, during summer time, the cooling of a larger area of the pilot building will be ensured (Source: NIRD URBAN-INCERC (2017))


Mathematical modeling / numerical simulations: The energy demand for cooling, based on the hypothetical modernizing of the building to a performance level typical for nZEB buildings, in comparison with the current cooling demand (Source: NIRD URBAN-INCERC (2017))


Mathematical modeling / numerical simulations: The energy demand for cooling, obtained by using a method based on hourly dynamic simulation (Q bilant). In the post-calculation procedure an algorithm for optimizing the energy consumption is applied, which permits using nocturnal ventilation, modifying the number of the building air changes, utilizing the internal / external heat gains during the winter interval, the temporary storage in the internal buildings components (Q nec climatizare). (Source: NIRD URBAN-INCERC, Bucharest, 2016)


Mathematical model for the flow of underground water, used in the project for analyzing the storage in the aquifer, determining the position of the monitoring borehole etc (Source: INHGA, Bucharest, 2016)


Monitoring the system: water flows for the water extraction/restitution and hydrostatic heights. Transient and steady state system (Source: tests ran by NIRD URBAN-INCERC and INHGA, Bucharest, 2016)


Real time monitoring: Sets of sensors for the continuous monitoring of the three used boreholes were introduced for determining the efficiency of the system and its environmental impact: pressure / hydrostatic height, temperature (3 sensors per borehole exclusively for monitoring the vertical temperature gradient), extracted/restituted water flow (Source: NIRD URBAN-INCERC (2016))


Dissemination: The Annual Scientific Conference of INHGA (sursa: INHGA (2015))


Lithological profile: The characteristic lithology of the area around the pilot building was established by analyzing soil samples (Sources: NIRD URBAN-INCERC (2016))


Dissemination: WREC 2015, World Renewable Energy Congress XIV "Clean Energy for a Sustainable Development", UPB, Romania (sursa: INCD URBAN-INCERC (2015))


Soil characteristics: The mathematical models will use real data obtained through laboratory analysis (soil granulometry/permeability) . (sursa: INCD URBAN-INCERC (2015))


Making the exploatation wells, posing the distribution pipes: Implementing ATES systems involves laborious activities on site, but the ground removal is much lower comparing with closed systems using horizontal ground heat exchangers, thus being possible to use them in densely populated urban areas. Another special advantage is the possibility to integrate renewable energy sources (solar systems, for example) and the long term thermal energy storage (seasonally). ) (Source: NIRD URBAN-INCERC)


Workshop: Buildings that use the ATES system (office buildings & culture center/public library, Netherlands, 2015)


The growth of the ATES systems in the Netherlands (sursa: Godschalk, Bas (2015), Sustainable heating and cooling just beneath your feet. Witteveen+Bos presentation, Deventer, June 2015)


Workshop organized with the project partners and representatives for the Witteveen+Bos company, in which extremely useful information regarding ATES systems were obtained, their implementation and their long term feasibility.


A workshop was organized within the European project „GeoDH - Geothermal District Heating" on the 20th of November 2014 at the Headquarters of the Romanian company Geoexchange in bd. Pache Protopopescu no. 66, sector 2, Bucharest – the building of the Faculty of Building Services Engineering within U.T.C.B.. The MATES-nZEB project with its objectives, progress status and expected results were presented in the workshop.


The eight Conference of building research, building economy, architecture, town planning and territorial development, with the theme „The Sustainable development of the built environment – from vision to reality” took place on the 3rd of October 2014, at the Headquarters of NIRD URBAN-INCERC in sos. Pantelimon 266, sector 2, Bucharest. A presentation of MATES-nZEB project was made in the conference, focusing on the potential of integrating this technology into nearly zero energy buildings.


The kick-off meeting for the MATES-nZEB project was organized on the 22nd of September 2014, at the Headquarters of NIRD URBAN-INCERC in sos. Pantelimon 266, sector 2, Bucharest. Special guests representing Netherlands, a country with a great experience in the field of implementing ATES and water management, attended the meeting: dl. ir. J. Coen Dijxhoorn from IF Technology and dl. drs. Ebel Smidt from Smidt Groundwater.