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SmarThor EFRO

Expansion of Digital Services in Open Thor Living Lab.

To test new software solutions and services, solutions are needed for access to context-rich datasets and a secure interface between experimental software and the safety and comfort in the test environment.

01-04-2024 - 31-03-2026
Running project
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This project was made possible thanks to SALKturbo  and is co-funded by EFRO and provincie Limburg.

With EFRO funding, VITO and KU Leuven are developing, through systematic research, the expertise to add two new software modules to SmarThor:

  1. Context-rich datasets that allow companies to test apps and models.
  2. An API and framework with backup logic, enabling the experimental software solutions to be tested in buildings and households.

These solutions will, of course, comply with privacy regulations and agreements with the residents.

Test environment and infrastructure

To test new software solutions and services, solutions are needed that provide access to context-rich datasets and a secure interface between experimental software and the safety and comfort of the physical testing environment. Creating a testing environment that combines digital and physical elements, with daily varying conditions and users, is a large investment and is also time consuming. These challenges are currently being addressed by the Open Thor Living Lab.

With support from Stad Genk, Thor Park NV, and EnergyVille, the Open Thor Living Lab is developing a sustainable energy infrastructure at Thor Park. This infrastructure includes:

  • The test houses of THOREAQ and ConstrucThor.
  • The real-life oPEN lab test environment with 33 homes in the nearby garden district Waterschei and the social housing district Nieuw Texas.
  • The CollectThor fifth-generation heating network.
  • A direct current network that can be configured both actively and passively.
  • An energy hub with space for alternating test setups that can be easily connected to the various backbone systems.

Financial support has been received from Europe through Horizon 2020 and from EFRO, as well as from the Flemish government.

Business involvement and co-creation

In this EFRO project, companies will be involved through co-creation workshops to discuss their needs and specification requirements with experts. This close collaboration enables us to translate the needs of companies into objectives and specification documents that further define the conceptual architecture of SmarThor.

Additionally, we evaluate whether these conceptual proposals are in line with current privacy regulations and comfort protections for test families. It will also be determined which contractual provisions are necessary with both the data owners (families) and data users (companies) in order to smoothly utilize these new services for product development and testing purposes.

IT development and hackathons

Similar to previous achievements for the SmarThor data platform, the IT development will be conducted in small iterations (sprints) that will be continuously updated. In total, about 30 sprints are planned to bring both software modules to proof-of-concept and test them in collaboration with companies.

During the second year of the project, workshops in the form of hackathons will be organized, allowing companies to connect to the new software modules to test their own concepts. This simultaneously forms a proof-of-concept evaluation between clusters of sprints and provides an opportunity for companies to prepare their developments for demonstrations and experiments in the Open Thor Living Lab.

Citizen and government engagement

In addition to companies, citizens are involved as test families, with active communication and surveying. The collected data and experiments also provide governments with a better understanding of which solutions are promising and can help accelerate the transition from a fossil to a sustainable energy system in a cost-effective manner.

Societal role

Through the development of the Open Thor Living Lab and its associated digital infrastructure SmarThor, our primary goal is to fulfil a societal role. Specifically, we aim to provide the Flemish industry with improved access to international innovation and collaboration.

Role of EnergyVille

The VITO and KU Leuven teams developing optimization solutions, models, algorithms, and data solutions for EnergyVille’s energy research are responsible for the development and daily management of the SmarThor platform. This is done in close collaboration with EnergyVille and the Open Thor Living Lab.

Our sponsors

This project has been made possible thanks to the financial support of Provincie Limburg and EFRO.

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This project was made possible thanks to SALKturbo  and is co-funded by EFRO and provincie Limburg.

Our partners

Special thanks to our partners, whose contributions make this project happen.