The nPro tool helps engineers to design district energy systems quickly and efficiently in the early planning phase. On this page, you learn more about the development of nPro and its developer.
nPro was created as a result of years of experience in the field of district planning. There are already numerous tools for energy system planning, which are based on very detailed calculation models. However, these tools are only used by experts who have either worked with the tools for a long time or have helped to develop them themselves. nPro, on the other hand, was developed specifically for the early planning phase of district energy planning in order to accelerate and standardize the planning and quotation process of district projects. With nPro, we combine proven calculation methods with a user-friendly interface and high usability. nPro makes unique that it focuses on the calculation and design of district heating and cooling networks as well as 5GDHC (anergy) networks and uses innovative calculation methods from the field of mathematical optimization.
A powerful optimization engine
The design of complex power systems requires complex algorithms. While the approach of mathematical optimization enjoys great popularity and wide application in scientific research, it is still largely unknown in everyday practice. Yet mathematical optimization is an impressive method. A look at Google shows what modern algorithms can do today: Search engines can filter out the best-fitting content from billions of web pages in fractions of a second. Conventional search algorithms are not capable of doing this. Mathematical optimization is similar: The optimal configuration can be determined from millions of possible power system configurations within seconds. For this purpose, in the nPro optimization engine, a system of equations and inequalities with tens of thousands (sometimes millions!) of variables is set up and solved in seconds.
Special field of interest: Fifth generation district heating and cooling (5GDHC)
5GDHC (anergy) networks are an impressive technology in many respects. However, planning and simulating them is much more complex than for conventional heating networks. With nPro, we offer a unique tool that automates the essential calculation steps.
Load profiles: A recurring challenge
What is often underestimated: Load profiles have a decisive influence on the subsequent system design. We have made it our goal to simplify the often tedious process of generating load profiles to such an extent that realistic load profiles can be created with just a few clicks.
Excel is not a simulation software
Of course, Excel is the engineer's favorite tool - especially when it comes to planning and designing energy systems. However, it is often no longer sufficient to consider only individual design points, especially when renewable energies play an important role. Therefore, energy systems have to be considered for a whole year - and often with an hourly resolution. In these cases, Excel lists quickly become large and confusing. nPro helps to break new ground in the planning process. The nPro tool processes time series with hourly resolution, simulates and balances complex energy flows and automates the visualization of results. This saves a lot of time and work.
Bringing science into practice
At nPro, we aim to incorporate the latest scientific findings and calculation methods into our tool development. In this way, we want to bring science and practice closer together and bring the latest methods into application. Our research publications are listed here.
What do we offer?
Our main service is the nPro planning tool. It helps you to plan district energy systems quickly and easily. In addition, we are interested in further cooperations, especially if you...
- need special support for the planning of your district project,
- need a tailor-made software solution for your company,
- are interested in a joined research or development project,
- need consulting in the field of 5GDHC / anergy networks, or
- want to use our simulation and optimization algorithms with an API.
The story behind nPro
The idea for the development of nPro had Marco Wirtz: As a research associate at RWTH Aachen University, he worked his way deep into the world of numerical calculation and simulation methods for the planning of energy systems. He gained broad experience in the field of district planning during numerous research projects. In this way, he had, on the one hand, a deep insight into the methods of academic research and, on the other hand, a broad overview of practical planning approaches used in planning offices and utilities. What was interesting to him was the large discrepancy between highly complex simulation and optimization tools in academia and the pragmatic approaches used by district planners. He noticed that there is a lack of suitable tools which, on the one hand, provide practical answers to complex planning problems and, on the other hand, are also used in everyday planning. The idea for the development of nPro came during a research stay in Berkeley, California. Here, he was not only able to deepen his expertise in the field of optimization methods, but also came into contact with the lively startup culture of Silicon Valley. Here, he decided to develop a web-based calculation tool for district energy systems - the idea for nPro was born.
About the developer of nPro
Marco Wirtz studied mechanical engineering at RWTH Aachen University and obtained his master's degree in energy technology in 2017. After his studies, he worked as a research associate at the Chair of Building and Indoor Climate Technology at RWTH Aachen University. Here, he did research in the field of innovative heat networks and district energy systems. He published several scientific papers about 5th generation district heating and cooling networks (5GDHC). As a research associate, he also developed several web applications for companies and research projects. He incorporated his collected experience into the development of nPro.