Iowa State University buildings built prior to the late 1960’s utilize steam valves and radiators to heat rooms. These heating systems link multiple rooms through steam pipes and consist of a single valve that controls the temperature heat output through radiators within each room. The user does not have knowledge of the magnitude of revolutions needed to accommodate a desired temperature within the room and causes over and under heating throughout the rooms. Since these heat systems consist of physical controls, Facilities Planning and Management does not have remote access to the system in order to regulate temperature in times of little to no occupancy. As a result, significant energy is lost during campus night hours and school breaks, consequently increasing energy bills.
In order to solve these issues, our group has proposed to perform a system level integration in which we will design a steam valve controller unit and a user interface unit. The steam valve controller unit will consist of a DC motor – used to rotate the steam valve, a microcontroller – used to run the control algorithm, a wireless transceiver – used to communicate to the user interface, and Ethernet connectivity – used to connect to the Iowa State network. The user interface will consist of a LCD display – human machine interface, push buttons – used to receive user input, a temperature sensor – used to record the room temperature, a wireless transceiver – used to communicate to the steam valve controller, and a microcontroller – used to control the user interface unit. Through design, we will integrate these components into an efficient temperature control system.
The end product will consist of two units: the user interface and the steam valve controller. The user interface will be a wall mountable unit similar to a thermostat. It will prompt for and accept temperature values from users. The unit will also be used as a means of sensing and recording current room temperature. It will communicate the current room temperature and user input temperature values to the steam valve controller unit. The controller unit will resemble a box structure and will be situated on top of the steam valve. It will run an algorithm based on received temperature values and adjust the steam valve appropriately through the DC motor. This system will allow user friendly temperature control and monitoring.
My role on the senior design team was to design the wireless communication system and the control algorithm. I am also working on the hardware design along with being in charge of the functional test plan. My non-technical role was as webmaster for the team.
Details: Project Website
Senior Design Website