How to heat the EU parliament from the hidden river?

Feb. 06, 2015 | by Dave Pearson, Star Renewable Energy

Since 1852 humankind has appreciated that “reverse refrigeration” can be used to heat buildings with less raw fuel. It was only a few years later that this was proven in an Austrian salt mine.

Here we are nearly 160 years later and still we prefer to burn either fossil fuels or fuels from trees.

Why are our cities not heated with heat pumps, small and large?

The technology is proven. Proven by examples from Switzerland during WWII or giant systems from Scandinavian cities such as Gothenburg from 1980 or earlier, or more recently the adoption of low global warming working fluids such as ammonia in the Norwegian town of Drammen.

All these cases had a few simple ingredients but are these ingredients unique to certain obscure situations or is there something more fundamental lacking?

So “how does a heatpump work?” was the challenge taken on by Dave Pearson of Star Renewable Energy, the designers of Drammen- but also “could it work in Brussels?”.

Heatpumps are simple systems. They need something that can be cooled down and a demand for heat, with a source of energy to drive the heat from the cold place to the warm place.

Brussels has an underground river as well as a large canal. The flow rate is several thousand litres per second. Every litre per second if cooled by 1 degree (expressed as 1 Kelvin) yields 8.4 kW of heat capacity. A modern heatpump as seen at Drammen can deliver 1.5 times as much heat as harvested from the surroundings even at high temperatures needed for old buildings (over 80C); the extra heat coming from the electricity used to drive the system, so in our example 12.6kW of capacity. In reality the river could be cooled by 8K so 50.4kW. Multiply that up by the flow rate and several thousand hours per year and that might be quite significant.........

The heat demand of the 3 largest buildings in the EU Parliament needed 68GWh per annum. The hidden, forgotten river is therefore a massive energy source, capable of heating 7 times over the 3 main EU buildings in Brussels. 

All we need is some vision and some pipes.

So remember; the next time it is raining this is really an “energy shower!”

For more information: 

Dave Pearson
Star Renewable Energy

Units 1-4 Thornliebank Ind. Est.
G46 8JW

Tel: +44 (0) 141 6387916
Fax: +44 (0) 141 638 8111
Mob: +44 (0) 7976 607746