NUS - National University of Singapore

11/21/2023 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/20/2023 19:30

NUS campus as a living lab for advancing innovative and sustainable energy solutions


NUS campus as a living lab for advancing innovative and sustainable energy solutions

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Digital simulation of NUS University Town obtained from the NUS Digital Twin platform which researchers and industry partners can use to run simulations and test sustainability solutions.

Engaging with industry partners is integral to bringing research innovations in sustainable energy from the lab bench to real-world solutions for Singapore to achieve its decarbonisation goals. To support Singapore in achieving these goals, NUS is offering its built environment as a hub for sustainability-related research through the Campus as A Living Lab at NUS (CALL@NUS) initiative.

CALL@NUS is an innovative platform that utilises the physical systems and infrastructure of the NUS campus, together with the innovative capabilities of the NUS Digital Twin platform, for researchers and industry partners to co-create and validate impactful and scalable sustainability solutions in a living and operational environment, for future implementation in Singapore and globally.

NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye said, "At NUS, we are presenting the campus as a Living Lab, where our physical infrastructure and operational systems serve as an integrative test-bed for sustainability solutions. This opens up a myriad of possibilities for impactful discoveries, game-changing innovations, and transformative education."

Leveraging CALL@NUS for sustainable energy projects

Making use of the unique CALL@NUS initiative is the Keppel-NUS Low Carbon Living Laboratory, where NUS researchers and Keppel engineers will work on a multi-pronged project, announced on 20 November 2023, aimed at advancing NUS' Campus Sustainability Roadmap 2030 and the Singapore Green Plan 2030. This project will enhance the adoption of commercially viable and sustainable energy technologies, as well as boost energy efficiency.

The Keppel-NUS Low Carbon Living Laboratory is hosted on NUS Kent Ridge campus through a Master Research Collaboration Agreement (MRCA) signed between NUS and Keppel Corporation's Infrastructure Division in April 2022.

Through this multi-faceted project, NUS and Keppel Corporation aim to advance distributed energy management solutions, develop and deploy a smart AC/DC hybrid microgrid, as well as implement an innovative and energy-efficient district-wide cooling system.

"This collaboration leverages NUS' expertise in energy and sustainability research and Keppel's technological capabilities to develop cutting-edge technologies for smart grid management and district cooling which, once validated, could be applied within NUS, on a national-scale, and even globally," said Prof Tan.

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A novel AC/DC hybrid microgrid will be tested and implemented at NUS University Town. This innovative energy management system will allow seamless integration and optimisation of different sustainable energy technologies to enhance energy sustainability and efficiency. Image credit: Keppel Corporation

Co-innovate sustainable energy solutions

One aspect of this multi-pronged project will be conducted from 2023 to 2026 and co-led by Professor Sanjib Kumar Panda along with Professor Dipti Srinivasan from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineeringunder the NUS College of Design and Engineeringtogether with Keppel engineers. In this aspect, NUS researchers and Keppel engineers will implement a digital twin and leverage comprehensive sensing technologies and modelling to develop innovative distributed energy management solutions and explore the adoption of a smart AC/DC hybrid microgrid to allow seamless integration and optimisation of different sustainable energy technologies, such as renewable energy resources, energy storage devices, and smart electric vehicle charging solutions. These innovations are envisaged to create an infrastructure network that reduces energy consumption while enhancing grid reliability and climate resilience.

In another aspect of this project under the MRCA, NUS researchers and Keppel Infrastructure engineers will focus on the implementation of an innovative district-wide cooling network at the NUS University Hall and its adjacent developments. This aspect will see the deployment of a proprietary material-based thermal energy storage technology jointly developed by NUS and Keppel in an earlier collaboration, techniques that use outdoor air for cooling, and real-time AI-based optimisations. These technologies will be integrated with the AC/DC hybrid microgrid, which has the potential to significantly reduce the carbon footprint and energy consumption for cooling at NUS.

This multi-pronged project is aimed to scale across the entire NUS campus in different phases, and replicated for third-party customers locally and abroad.

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The district-wide cooling system that will be implemented at NUS University Hall and its adjacent developments will be integrated with the AC/DC hybrid microgrid which will potentially help to reduce the carbon footprint and energy consumption for cooling at NUS. Image credit: Keppel Corporation

Grooming Singapore's new generation of sustainability leaders

Aside from pioneering sustainable technologies to foster a greener and more energy-efficient future, these collaborative projects present valuable educational and training opportunities for NUS students as the next generation of leaders in sustainable energy technologies. For example, the smart AC/DC hybrid microgrid is a showcase project which will be weaved into the curriculum of some courses at the NUS College of Design and Engineering. These projects will also encourage collaboration between various ecosystem players such as industry experts and researchers.

Ms Cindy Lim, CEO, Infrastructure, Keppel, said, "As a global asset manager and operator, Keppel is focused on continually sharpening our competitive advantages. We are pleased to work with like-minded partners, such as NUS, to pioneer leading-edge energy and sustainability-related solutions that will help businesses and communities decarbonise and work towards carbon-neutrality."

Beyond these initial projects, NUS and Keppel Corporation are also exploring partnerships in other energy and sustainability-related areas, such as ammonia cracking and solar energy-related research.

Both Keppel and NUS were recipients of the President's Award for the Environment (PAE) conferred on 10 October 2023. The PAE is the highest environmental accolade for individuals, educational institutions and organisations that have made outstanding contributions towards environment and sustainability, as well as building a resilient future for Singapore. The biennial award is administered by the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment.