Optimal predictive control of thermal storage in hollow core ventilated slab systems
The energy crisis together with greater environmental awareness, has increased interest in the construction of low energy buildings. Fabric thermal storage systems provide a promising approach for reducing building energy use and cost, and consequently, the emission of environmental pollutants. Hollow core ventilated slab systems are a form of fabric thermal storage system that, through the coupling of the ventilation air with the mass of the slab, are effective in utilizing the building fabric as a thermal store. However, the benefit of such systems can only be realized through the effective control of the thermal storage. This thesis investigates an optimum control strategy for the hollow core ventilated slab systems, that reduces the energy cost of the system without prejudicing the building occupants thermal comfort. The controller uses the predicted ambient temperature and solar radiation, together with a model of the building, to predict the energy costs of the system and the thermal comfort conditions in the occupied space. The optimum control strategy is identified by exercising the model with a numerical optimization method, such that the energy costs are minimized without violating the building occupant's thermal comfort. The thesis describes the use of an Auto Regressive Moving Average model to predict the ambient conditions for the next 24 hours. A building dynamic lumped parameter thermal network model, is also described, together with its validation. The implementation of a Genetic Algorithm search method for optimizing the control strategy is described, and its performance in finding an optimum solution analysed. The characteristics of the optimum schedule of control setpoints are investigated for each season, from which a simplified time-stage control strategy is derived. The effects of weather prediction errors on the optimum control strategy are investigated and the performance of the optimum controller is analysed and compared to a conventional rule-based control strategy. The on-line implementation of the optimal predictive controller would require the accurate estimation of parameters for modelling the building, which could form part of future work.