In 2012 industry consumed 2,542 Mtoe of energy globally, which represented  over 28% of the 8,980 Mtoe of global final energy consumption [1]. In an Irish context, industry consumed 2.26 Mtoe of energy in 2012, representing almost 22% of Ireland’s 10.3 Mtoe of final energy consumption. Within the category of industrial energy, compressed air is recognised as an energy intensive utility, accounting for 10% of industrial electricity in the European Union [2]. Energy costs typically account for 78% of the total life cycle cost of a compressed air system [3]. Compressed air is known colloquially in industry as the “fourth fuel”, due to the high electrical cost associated with generation. Compressed air systems are typically running at 19%% overall system efficiency [2], as a result of energy losses largely due to lost heat of generation and leakages.

The project “Application of Expert Systems to Industrial Optimisation” addresses the need to improve the energy performance of industrial utilities, specifically with in relation to air compressors and compressed air systems. Given the disparate range of compressed air system configurations installed in industry today, any method which attempts to improve the energy performance of systems must take into consideration its generic applicability. Existing methods which address compressed air system performance management include maintenance contracts and periodic audits. These methods are disadvantaged when attempting to intelligently manage system performance without unnecessary resource expenditure. They also have limited capability to apply lessons learned in one facility to disparate systems.

Considering the potential drawbacks of the existing methods for system performance management, three key approaches are considered in this project for improved system enhancement opportunity identification. These three key approaches are summarised in the figure below:

 Three Key Approaches to System Performance Management

The project “Application of Expert Systems to Industrial Optimisation” will draw from the benefits of these three key approaches to create a working prototype of an effective compressed air system performance management tool. This tool will focus on the ability to detect improvement opportunities across disparate systems, regardless of configuration or data collection challenges.


[1] IEA, “International Energy Agency,” IEA, 2012. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 05-Aug-2015].

[2] R. Saidur, N. A. Rahim, and M. Hasanuzzaman, “A review on compressed-air energy use and energy savings,” Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev., vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 1135–1153, May 2010.

[3] P. Radgen, “Efficiency through compressed air energy audits,” in Energy Audit Conference, www. audit06. fi, 2006. 

The management of Energy is one of the most important challenges facing the international community. As targets are set for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and improvements in efficiency, cost reduction goals are also being imposed. The criticality of demand side management is now emerging, with energy efficiency widely accepted as being the first objective. It is argued that over half of the greenhouse gas reductions needed, should come from efficiency measures.

In parallel with Energy, Worldwide shortages in the availability of water of a suitable quality have now created a shift in focus towards its utilisation. Water is being proclaimed as "the new oil" with individuals and industries alike projecting ahead to the criticality and cost impact of this valuable resource. Whilst many countries have plans for a clean energy future, they must also plan for water scarcity and therefore the two efforts must be seen as one. Water and energy consumption are not always fully considered as two parts of the same issue, however it takes a considerable amount of water to produce electricity from most of the generation sources used today and it also takes a substantial quantity of energy to pump, deliver and clean water. Increasingly, the energy-water nexus cannot be ignored and indeed many water efficiency improvements save as much energy as some energy efficiency measures but at approximately half the cost. Within this overall research scheme, it is proposed to consider Water as a utility resource in a similar manner to other environmental energy streams.

Whilst it is generally accepted that improvements in water management are required worldwide, the relatively low apparent financial cost of water is inhibiting the essential changes. Motivating factors are necessary to enable the transformation and whilst standards such as ISO14046 Water Footprint and even ISO50001 Energy Management provide a framework to allow companies fulfil their corporate and social responsibilities, the cost savings associated with the necessary modifications do not alone provide adequate justification. The reason for this is that the true cost or true value of the water being used is not known and hence unappreciated.

In order to remedy this situation within industry, a novel framework for establishing the true cost of water by analysing the value added has been developed and its application to a typical manufacturing factory is being researched. The framework may also be similarly applied to other water life-cycle stages.

The true cost provides a valuable insight into the operation of the facility, a means for internal and external benchmarking and internal cost control, and also the data necessary to financially justify any modifications required. The data may also be used to assist with the calculation of a water footprint or a life-cycle cost.

Once the proposed methodology is implemented, changes will be possible which will result in water, energy and cost savings along with environmental benefits. Employment of this methodology, involving a Value System (VS) and a simulation model, would facilitate the application of Information and communications technology (ICT) to resource efficiency and thus may be used to assist in confronting necessary sustainability challenges.

The I2E2 Energy Research Centre is a government sponsored Technology Centre, established to facilitate research which will have a direct impact on industry. The I2E2 research focus is on energy efficiency improvements in factories, plant, equipment and buildings. The current research agenda focuses on compressed air systems characterisation, use and solution integration; appropriate work environments and HVAC systems. The innovations will enable the Irish manufacturing industry to improve competitiveness via breakthroughs in energy efficiency and cost reduction.

The aim of the IERG/i2e2 project is to investigate ways of reducing the cost of providing appropriate working environments for product, people and machines in Irish manufacturing plants (HVAC systems and clean rooms). Maintaining appropriate working conditions is costly. According to the SEAI Energy Agreements HVAS Special Working Group Report 2007, HVAC energy costs can be as high as 80% of a site’s total energy budget and, among the 14 companies which participated in the SEAI study, €15 million a year of savings were identified. Further dependency on cleanroom is increasing and the Carbon Trust has estimated that around 40% of commercial floor space could be air conditioned by 2020, compared to only 10% at the end of 1994.

As part of this three year project from 2011 to 2014, the IERG team have developed a software tool encompassing an expert analytics system which detects and diagnoses faults in HVAC system. To date, over €150,000 of energy savings have been identified on 7 pilot sites across 26 AHU's by the beta stage AFDD tool.

This project focuses on the application of data Analytics to improve the performance of costal wind turbines. The current global wind power capacity is now topping 300 GW. Currently offshore maintenance costs can reach 20 to 25 % of total income. Classic maintenance methods are either preventative (periodic scheduled maintenance checks) or reactive (maintenance performed following component failure). By monitoring turbines, maintenance need only be performed when a component is showing signs of failing. This project aims to utilize Artificial Intelligence to Predict maintenance faults. The AI can monitor a turbines temperature and power SCADA data to creating Gaussian process models, which identify certain trends in turbine data relating to faults. This project is currently headed by Kevin Leahy.

This project focuses on research into the application of data analytics to improve the accuracy of the measurement and verification (M&V) of energy savings in industrial facilities. The increased effectiveness of energy management has led to a vast quantity of energy data becoming available. However, the value of this data is rarely maximised when carrying out M&V. The objective of the research is to define a clear and methodical process for utilising data analysis tools in M&V while also streamlining the entire process. Looking beyond this, it is envisaged that this proposed methodology can be applied using a software solution that further automates M&V while maintaining accuracy in the energy savings estimated. The use of this approach, which relies on data-driven models, should increase the ability to accurately perform M&V in industry across a variety of applications. This project is currently headed by Colm Gallagher.

This research focuses on the development of an industrial analytics framework to support the development of data-driven engineering informatics applications. Industrial analytics is an important aspect of smart manufacturing that employs data-driven methods, tools and technologies to inform decision-making. Many technologies that exist in the industrial analytics ecosystem originate from mainstream information technology, before adaptions are applied to facilitate their use in industrial environments. Such mainstream technologies include Big Data, Machine Learning and Internet of Things (IoT), to name a few. Developing industrial analytics capabilities centres on the application of these technologies, coupled with systematic cross-factory convergences governing Operation Technology, Information Technology, Data Analytics and Embedded Analytics. Given the lack of formal theoretical frameworks to guide these transformations, this research provides a systematic and formal methodology for designing, developing and improving industrial analytics capabilities. This project is currently headed by Peter O’Donovan.

The development of Decision Support Systems (DSS) to facilitate energy performance improvement in large industry

The transition by industry to cleaner and smarter production is a crucial step in addressing the global challenge posed by climate change; the uptake of renewable sources of energy is key to this transition. In responding to this imperative, different industrial sectors has been implementing renewable energy projects for the last number of years. With more disparate generation, comes a need to effectively manage the integration of these systems. This has not always happened effectively when multiple systems are utilised on the same site, resulting in some renewable energy systems being sub optimally utilised due to a perception that they are not efficient when in fact it is their operation which has not been implemented efficiently to maximise their performance. This project, led by Dr Ken Bruton in partnership with DePuy Synthes, aims to integrate hybrid renewable energy supply (wind, chp, biomass etc) storage and efficiency with advanced and modular manufacturing. It will also deliver near real time analysis of linkages between process output and multi-source energy input enabling more effective decision making surrounding (global) asset operations.

The Drive4Zero is a unique and exciting initiative that aims to promote the use of electric vehicles in Ireland using Cork as a pilot area.  This Drive4Zero initiative provides a real opportunity to leverage special savings, unique product offerings and a variety of advantages to convince more people that driving an electric car is the right choice for many reasons.

Several people, organisations, companies and groups have come together to make Drive4Zero a reality.  The initiative has been spearheaded by Minister for Agriculture, Food & Marine with responsibility for Defence, Simon Coveney T.D., who is an electric car driver, electric vehicle (EV) ambassador and a passionate advocate of EVs.

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