Engie Lab China aims to develop a series of research programs focused on “integrated infrastructure” for addressing research and engineering grand challenges towards more efficient and intelligent energy services at building scale, at district scale, and at urban scale. Engie Lab China also focuses on leveraging advanced information technologies to support business units and management teams develop new business models and make more data-informed decisions.

Ben Schwegler, Chief Scientist

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Ben Schwegler, Ph.D., is the Chief Scientist of Engie Lab China, and a Consulting Professor at Stanford University. Ben has over 35 years of experience in R&D, focusing on simulation, prediction, and management of the project delivery process to enable sustainable design and engineering of the built environment. He has led the development of Integrated Infrastructure models, resulting in the most energy efficient Disney theme park and resort design ever built; he also developed innovative water and waste management technologies to integrate those flows within the built and natural environments. Before joining Engie, Ben was the Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist of The Walt Disney Company and Managing Director of Disney Research China.

Projects

1. Data-driven Estimation of Potentials and Boundaries for District Heating/Cooling Systems

This project provides an innovative data-driven solution to automatically search, evaluate, and identify the boundaries and engineering potential of district heating and cooling (DHC) for a city. This leverages the massive amount of data collected in urban areas to assess a vastly larger number of potential DHC areas – with minimum marginal cost. New business opportunities for district energy systems could be explored and discovered rapidly with the power of artificial intelligence (economies of scale). Combined with early phase optimization, this approach greatly multiplies the effectiveness of existing DHC teams to discover and evaluate new business opportunities.

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2. Early Phase Optimization of District Cooling System Design and Installation Plan

This project develops a methodology that optimizes the district cooling plant design and installation plan in terms of the capital cost and the operational electricity cost through ramp-up to operations. Customized optimization programs are developed to assist engineers during conceptual design phase to understand trade-offs between different objectives and make informed decisions for “better” design. It will also integrate district energy plant and building system management for further improvement.

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3. Performance Contracting for Building Scale Energy Service

Building Performance Contracting highlights the importance of occupancy comfort, (and the associated health and productivity benefits) and supplies building owners and occupants with a “new product” to purchase: guaranteed building performance, comprising temperature, humidity, indoor air quality, noise, illumination, etc. This project aims to integrate BIM (Building Information Modeling), with building system controls, sensor networks, simulation models, and optimization algorithms to 1) build and verify building performance models, 2) optimize HVAC system design specifications, 3) design energy conservation measures and operational schemes, 4) calculate guaranteed performances and propose associated contracting strategies, and 5) continuously update the integrated solutions for healthy and comfortable indoor environment and reduced energy use.

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4. Efficient and Inexpensive Transportation of Hydrogen

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and offers great hope for sustainable energy, but it is rare on earth since it is almost completely insoluble in water. The use of hydrogen as a sustainable energy source requires the ability to generate, move and store it. However, transportation of hydrogen as an industrial chemical or vehicle fuel poses great technical problems – regardless of the method used. One of the most promising areas is the use of liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHC), where hydrogen density is comparable to compressed gas in cylinders but where the hydrogen is bound to an organic molecule at the site of production, transported using existing infrastructure and then removed from the organic molecule near the site of use. Biological hydrogen largely eliminates the need for this energy of binding and release since it uses enzymatic catalysis for these processes, which occur at moderate temperatures and ambient pressure. BioChem Insights, Inc. and Engie China Lab have identified at least three candidate molecules that could work as enzymatically catalyzed LOHC, offering significant potential improvement for the energy and cost associated with this method.

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Collaborators

Collaborators

Opportunities

Interested in joining Engie Lab China?

We are constantly seeking highly motivated and energetic individuals to work with us. Vacancies are available for Internships and Research Scientists. To express your interest, please contact Zheng Yang at zheng.yang@engie.com