EPFL-based startup Droople has developed a smart flow meter that can measure buildings’ water consumption and identify potential savings in energy. The Montreux Jazz Café at EPFL has already tested the device and found a way to cut its energy bill.
Droople’s smart meters record not just water flow rates and temperatures, but also peak usage times and total consumption – valuable data for facilities managers seeking to cut costs. The system consists of a series of smart flow meters installed at the point of use that collect data and send them through a low-power wide-area network (LoRaWAN) to a cloud-based software program. “Our program runs the data through a series of algorithms to extract the useful information,” says Ramzi Bouzerda, Droople’s founder and CEO. He set up the company in April 2018 at EPFL’s Innovation Park.
Recovering energy from hot water
The Montreux Jazz Café on the EPFL campus recently tried out the device. “I wanted to know if it was worth installing a heat recovery system on the refrigeration compressors in the ArtLab building,” says David Gremaud, who is in charge of the Energy project on EPFL’s facilities management team. Refrigerators and freezers operate through an exothermic (i.e., heat-releasing) process. The excess heat is absorbed by water running through the compressors, creating a stream of hot water. At EPFL, this hot water is generally sent to an evacuation system, but Gremaud is now looking at ways to recover the heat and reuse the energy. This spring he worked with Droople to install smart meters on the Montreux Jazz Café’s refrigeration compressors. After collecting data for two weeks, he saw that the outlet temperature and flow rate were high enough to warrant installing a heat recovery system.
Source: “An intelligent network for better water management”, Nathalie Jollien, EPFL