In a district heating engineering project, the design of the heating route is an indispensable but laborious process. This paper proposes a planning indicator to measure the suitability of a candidate heating route, and provides an intelligent method and a convenient tool for the preliminary design of the district heating route. The Fengrun heating engineering project was chosen as a case study. The remote sensing imagery and OpenStreetMap were used as the data sources. First, the remote sensing imagery was classified into five classes and converted into binary images. Second, the district heating route planning indicator was defined based on the cost function. The cost function and the updating strategy of the ant colony system algorithm were modified according to the heating route selection requirement. Additionally, the parallel computing technology was adopted to improve the efficiency. With the help of the open source Cesium engine and the three-dimensional (3D) WebGIS technology, an interactive route design platform that combined our algorithm was finally provided. The optimum routes by the platform were compared to the corresponding sequential algorithm, the route selected manually, as well as the commercial ArcGIS platform. The proposed algorithm can get 28 candidate routes with better indicator values than the manually selected route. Compared to the corresponding sequential algorithm, our algorithm improved the efficiency by 4.789 times. The proposed 3D WebGIS tool is more applicable and user-friendly for the heating route design.
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