Geothermal heat pumps reduce energy costs at wastewater plants

Nov 03, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Can sinking geothermal heat pumps into waste water treatment plant aeration ponds provide heating and cooling to lower the plant's energy costs?

Two University of Illinois at Chicago engineers will test two types of heat pump at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Great Chicago's James C. Kirie plant in Des Plaines, Ill.

The project, to be conducted over the coming year, "will determine the feasibility of harnessing energy from the effluent water," said Sohail Murad, professor and head of chemical engineering at UIC and the project's principal investigator.

Murad said the could determine which system can reduce the plant's heating and cooling energy needs by 20 percent. Further refinements could reduce energy use even more.

Both "open" and "closed"-loop geothermal heat pump systems will be tested.

Heat pumps collect heat during winter through fluid circulating in pipes called loops, placed below ground or in a body of water. The circulating fluid carries ground or water-stored heat indoors. In summer, the loop draws away indoor heat and carries it underground or under water, where it is absorbed. In a closed loop system, the circulating water or other suitable fluid stays within the pipes. In an open loop, water from the pond is used directly instead of the circulating fluid. It is pumped in and out of the system.

"Open and closed-loop pond systems are not very common, so development work has to be done to establish optimal operating parameters," said Murad, who specializes in thermodynamics. "We'll also test if the treated water leads to any corrosion or fouling issues in the pipe in the open system," he said.

The project will use treated water that exits the plant into adjacent aeration ponds.

Catherine O'Connor, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Great Chicago's assistant director of monitoring and research, said the project is novel and there is no documentation of a side-by-side comparison of an open versus closed-loop system that recovers heat from reclaimed water effluent.

"The open system promises to be more efficient, but may prove to require excess maintenance," O'Connor said.

Kirie ranks in the middle for capacity among the MWRD's seven water-reclamation plants, at about 46 million gallons of effluent daily. It is the district's newest plant.

"Heating and cooling plant buildings are a significant cost to the district," O'Connor said. "Plant buildings include office space and buildings that house process control and the filters."

Explore further: A smart prosthetic knee with in-vivo diagnoses

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

U.S. scientists develop better heat pump

Jan 18, 2007

U.S. homeowners might soon see their electric bills decreasing thanks to an integrated heat pump system developed by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Paris building to be warmed by commuters' body heat

Sep 10, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Paris Habitat, owner of a low-income public housing project in Paris, is planning to use the excess body heat of commuters in a subway station beneath it to warm an apartment building.

Science City stores heat in the ground

Jul 13, 2010

A groundbreaking project is currently being implemented on the Honggerberg Campus: in future, waste heat from buildings on the Science City Campus will be stored in the earth during the summer through 800 ...

Pumping up the heat for a climate-friendly future

Jun 11, 2010

The chaos caused by a volcanic eruption in Iceland April 2010 and the dispersal of its ash cloud across European airspace was a reminder of the tremendous forces of nature that exist below the ground. Not all subterranean ...

Energy-efficient water purification

Jan 14, 2009

Water and energy are two resources on which modern society depends. As demands for these increase, researchers look to alternative technologies that promise both sustainability and reduced environmental impact. Engineered ...

Recommended for you

A smart prosthetic knee with in-vivo diagnoses

19 hours ago

The task was to develop intelligent prosthetic joints that, via sensors, are capable of detecting early failure long before a patient suffers. EPFL researchers have taken up the challenge.

Old tires become material for new and improved roads

20 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Americans generate nearly 300 million scrap tires every year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Historically, these worn tires often end up in landfills or, when illegally ...

Students take clot-buster for a spin

Apr 21, 2014

(Phys.org) —In the hands of some Rice University senior engineering students, a fishing rod is more than what it seems. For them, it's a way to help destroy blood clots that threaten lives.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Old tires become material for new and improved roads

(Phys.org) —Americans generate nearly 300 million scrap tires every year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Historically, these worn tires often end up in landfills or, when illegally ...

Mantis shrimp stronger than airplanes

(Phys.org) —Inspired by the fist-like club of a mantis shrimp, a team of researchers led by University of California, Riverside, in collaboration with University of Southern California and Purdue University, ...

Volitional control from optical signals

(Medical Xpress)—In their quest to build better BMIs, or brain-machine-interfaces, researchers have recently begun to look closer at the sub-threshold activity of neurons. The reason for this trend is that ...