Air-conditioning and water treatment: intelligent algorithms to prevent waste
His day-to-day work as Technical Director in a data centre inspired Gautier Avril to set up Purecontrol. How to prevent wasted energy in cooling systems? And how to apply this to other fields?
Algorithms to prevent waste
Purecontrol is a system regulation solution that uses artificial intelligence. To explain in practical terms, Gautier gives the example of a hot water tank: “at home, you have a hot water tank. Whether you’re at home alone, on holiday or live with 10 friends, the hot water is always heated in the same way. At the end of the day, there’s either waste, or one friend ends up taking a cold shower. This may be a long way from our line of business, but it illustrates the problem well”.
Gautier noticed the same needs within the data centre where he worked: “in a data centre, you have exactly the same issues, but this is no longer a matter of a few euros, but a few thousand, with an oversized system with an oversized configuration to meet the needs. And therefore energy is wasted. In theory you could spend your day adjusting the settings but in practice this would be too time-consuming. And in winter energy is wasted cooling a system that doesn’t need it”.
So what’s the solution? Algorithms: “The aim of the project is to use intelligent algorithms, which observe the system in its environment and use that information to continuously reconfigure the settings accordingly”.
The market: heating, air-conditioning and water treatment
The various meetings of the past few months have allowed Gautier to identify two markets: “data centres, which I knew well, and therefore the entire industrial air-conditioning market, but there’s also another interesting market, which can be launched quickly; the private swimming pool market. Here water is also heated, but inconsistently in relation to its use. Why heat a swimming pool that is not going to be used? Given that this also has an impact on maintenance products”.
Hence, Purecontrol’s value proposition: “the swimming pool is heated when it’s in use, even if this means heating it a bit more so you can really make the most of it, to then make savings when it’s not in use. The aim is for the system to meet your needs”. The business model is based on the sale of a product that will gather data, analyse it and control the system. Another aspect could be to keep customers coming back to their swimming pool maintenance company via, for example, a subscription to maintenance products. The swimming pool market is a mass market, ultimately we are focusing more on the technology than on the industry”.
In terms of industrial air-conditioning, Purecontrol is carrying out tests to find out the actual value of the savings made. The solution is well-suited to all issues relating to heating, air-conditioning and water treatment sectors, “but it could also be applied to water treatment plants, which are currently oversized”.
Le Booster is experience
Gautier has a very technical background: “Le Booster offered me the opportunity to gain new skills, in particular in marketing, to view it from a less technical angle. They challenged me in these other areas”. Before Le Booster, Gautier spent four years working in a data centre in Châteaubourg for Bretagne Telecom. He left in January 2017 to set up Purecontrol. So what training does he have? “I went to engineering school in Rennes, then did my PhD in Lannion in Telecoms and I spent three years in Madagascar”.
Until Le Booster, the young entrepreneur believed he needed to explain how he would achieve his technical objectives, “when the real questions were: do you have any clients and what price are they prepared to pay? As they explained, we’ve already sent robots to Mars so there’s no need for reassurances on a technical level”.
Purecontrol, in at the deep end
Today the start-up is based at Smartmoov and, in the coming weeks, is planning to recruit staff to work on the various aspects of the project. Gautier Avril is also supported by Bretagne Telecom.
Purecontrol aims to launch its product on the swimming pool market at the start of next year: “There’s a real peak in the resumption of swimming pool use between April and June. Ideally we’re aiming to be ready for then!”