KTN Ltd., a research driven Latvian SME is making innovations in railway automation, proposing a control system IntelHeat for fully automatic management of railway points heating during winters by continuous monitoring of snow and other weather conditions. IntelHeat will satisfy customers’ needs to optimize heating regimes, will automate the process and will provide effective savings of electricity. That also means less influence on the climate via a decreased carbon footprint of the system.
The core of IntelHeat is a proprietary innovative optical precipitation sensor for real-time monitoring of snowing both in the atmosphere and remotely near the point. This unique feature possibly accounts for clogging of the point by blizzard from a passing train.
The principle is based on multi-channel acquisition using a combination of diffuse and direct reflection of infrared light from the precipitation particles. Algorithms for electrical heating use inputs of a set of real-time meteorological data from the sensor to manage the regime flexibly.
Functional prototypes were built and pass trial exploitation on the Latvian Railways. First positive conclusions about adequacy of detection, reliability of work and savings of energy (up to 80% in critical periods and 50% in average) were obtained. The end-users are national and EU railway companies. The potential market is estimated from initial implementation in Latvia as 800 precipitation sensors installed and 220 IntelHeat systems for heating control cabinets. In Europe: up to 20,000 sensors and 5,000 systems. Globally: up to 50,000 and 15,000 pieces accordingly. The market may start from about 3 M€ in Latvia and reach more than 60 M€ in Europe and 200 M€ worldwide.
The project aims for a feasibility study in the 1st Phase and the creation of the commercial product in the 2nd Phase. For the implementation of the 1st phase, the applicant will mobilize its own R&D personnel and experts from Latvian universities.