Heating with surplus heat from laboratories

Why not use surplus heat from X-ray machines for water heating in private homes? A new EU-funded low-temperature district heating project is developing sustainable solutions for better exploitation of cooling energy, surplus heat and renewable energy in the district heating system.

In the near future, the citizens in Brunnshög, a new suburb outside Lund in Sweden, are going to have their homes heated with the surplus heat from two local research laboratories.

Brunnshög consists of low energy buildings, and here Kraftringen Energi AB will develop a district heating system that can convert very low temperatures into heating of the buildings most of the year.

The solution is part of the EU-supported Cool District Heating project, which will develop and test new low-temperature district heating solutions in Høje Taastrup and Lund, Sweden.

Hot water with surplus heat from X-ray machines

The water in Brunnshög will be heated with the aid of cooling energy and surplus heat from the Max IV research lab, which contains some of the most powerful X-ray machines in the world

The European Spallation Source (ESS), which is under construction, will also play an important role in the future energy system in Brunnshög, where up to 40,000 people will live and work.

The area is being developed in stages, and by 2050 Kraftringen aims to be able to heat all buildings with low-temperature district heating.

“We will start by testing how we can exploit surplus heat from Max IV in a number of buildings in a small area. When ESS is in operation from 2020 onwards, there will be enough surplus heat to supply the whole of Brunnshög,” explains project manager Göran Strandberg from Kraftringen AB.

Solar energy to turn cooling into heat ​

Cool District Heating is not limited to changing the energy system in Lund. Also in Høje Taastrup, the surplus heat from, among others, the City 2 shopping center is to be used in the district heating network.

The difference is that in Høje Taastrup the existing district heating system will be converted to a low-temperature district heating system. The heat emitted from the refrigeration plants will be boosted to 55 degrees by means of heat pumps operated on green power from e.g. solar systems in the area and sent to consumers via the district heating network.

“We believe that future district heating supplies will be all about making the best use of the local energy resources, which includes creating synergies between heating and cooling – and here both wind and solar energy could play a crucial role. The Cool District Heating project fits our vision of showing the way as one of the leading district heating companies in Denmark,” says Astrid Birnbaum, director of Høje Taastrup Fjernvarme.

A sustainable smart grid

According to COWI’s project manager, Reto M. Hummelshøj, the interplay, whereby heat is used successively at different temperature levels between businesses, district heating systems and private homes, will be a feature of the smart energy systems of the future:

“The Cool District Heating project shows the way to the energy systems of the future, with businesses, homes and local renewable energy sources linked together. Together with the general supply systems, they help each other towards a sustainable smart grid. It is important to incorporate this interplay into the development of new suburbs right from the outset, as they are doing in Lund and in Høje Taastrup,” says Hummelshøj.

COWI is heading the project in close cooperation with the Lund supply company Kraftringen Energi and the district heating firm Høje Taastrup Fjernvarme.

About the Cool District Heating Project

Cool District Heating is a demonstration project being run by a consortium headed by COWI.

The project will develop new system solutions and components (pipes, heat exchangers, heat pumps, controls etc.) to exploit cooling energy and surplus heat, combined with increased use of renewable energy from both central and local sources.

It includes both new solutions to the design and sizing of the district heating network and new types of heating installation to heat tap water in buildings, along with proposals for new tariff structures.

​The findings from the project will be disseminated across the EU and could pave the way for similar solutions in Europe, wherever there is left-over heat at low temperatures – e.g. from cooling data centres.

Financing: The development part and specific innovative parts of the demonstration are supported by EU to the tune of DKK 30 million from the Horizon 2020 funds for ‘Innovation Action on the applicability of low-temperature district heating to buildings with high energy performance’.

Source: COWI