Economic topology optimization of District Heating Networks

This study proposes to solve the optimal pipe routing problem as a non-linear topology optimization problem, drawing inspiration from density-based topology optimization.

In DHNs, the typically high upfront investment cost of groundworks and piping is a core decision variable for the feasibility of a development project. Therefore in the planning phase it is useful to economically optimize the topology and design of a heating network, posing a large-scale integer programming optimisation problem. 

A design study on a realistic medium-sized network with 160 houses showed a strong influence of economic parameters on the optimal network topology. For this case, the optimization algorithm converges to a discrete network topology and near-discrete pipe design in about 10 min by using the proposed intermediate pipe penalization strategy.