Project Celsius, Capturing Waste Heat
Have you ever warmed your hands on the hot air blown from your laptop or felt the warm blast from an underground station? That is wasted heat. So is all that hot water that goes down your shower or bath drain, or the water that heated your washing machine. Re-capturing that heat could save billions of dollars worldwide, but finding the technology to achieve it is a tough call. That could change soon in several European cities. Project Celsius is the winning project in the Smart Cities and Communities 2011 Competition. Its aim is to explore and develop “smart district heating and cooling solutions”. What Celsius will try to do is overcome that barriers presented by such projects in the past, namely bringing together the plethora of interested parties – technological, social, political, and legal – that all need to be on board to get things moving.
The project has 25 million Euros in initial funding from the EU to examine whether waste heat can be used economically. It aims to run four years and will be co-ordinated from Gothenberg in Sweden. It will look at all aspects of urban heating and cooling. Researchers at the “Heat Roadmap Europe” project in Denmark estimate that the European Community wastes more heat each year than it uses to heat all its buildings. So the stakes are high, not just in terms of efficiency and cost savings but also in helping the EU achieve its highly ambitious CO2 emissions reduction programmes. Of course some “smart city” projects of a similar nature are already in operation with some success but Celsius aims to move things forward with wider scale co-operation and implementation.
In Gothenburg, for example, the project will look to find ways to re-use the massive amount of heat wasted by community garbage incinerators as well as that produced by industrial fridges.
In London, Celsius engineers and technicians will try to collect warm air from Underground Stations in addition to that from electricity sub-stations. The Burnhill Power Station in Islington, London is already collecting hot water from its operation. Burnhill is situated near the so-called “Silicone Roundabout” where a lot of IT and tech start-up firms are based. This is then pumped by way of a network of pipelines to around nine hundred homes in the borough. According to a report in New Scientist magazine Project Celsius will aim to develop the scheme further to heat at least five hundred more homes.
In Cologne, Germany, researchers will look at extracting heat from sewer waste. They will also examine ways of taking heat from large banks of computer servers then using heat pump technology to increase the temperature from around 20 degrees Centigrade to almost 70 degrees. Meanwhile, in Genoa, Italy, Celsius workers will use the significant pressure differences in the gas distribution network to drive turbines in order to produce useable energy.
Obviously, with so many different areas to work with, there will be successes and maybe some failures but with the expertise of those involved it is hoped the research can lead to massive future savings around the world.
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