Mining for heat

May 02, 2012

Underground mining is a sweaty job, and not just because of the hard work it takes to haul ore: Mining tunnels fill with heat naturally emitted from the surrounding rock. A group of researchers from McGill University in Canada has taken a systematic look at how such heat might be put to use once mines are closed. They calculate that each kilometer of a typical deep underground mine could produce 150 kW of heat, enough to warm 5 to 10 Canadian households during off-peak times.

A number of communities in Canada and Europe already use geothermal energy from abandoned mines. Noting these successful, site-specific applications, the McGill research team strove to develop a general model that could be used by engineers to predict the geothermal energy potential of other . In a paper accepted for publication in the American Institute of Physics' Journal of Renewable and , the researchers analyze the through mine tunnels flooded with water. In such situations, hot water from within the mine can be pumped to the surface, the extracted, and the cool water returned to the ground. For the system to be sustainable, heat must not be removed more quickly than it can be replenished by the surrounding rock. The team's model can be used to analyze the thermal behavior of a mine under different heat extraction scenarios.

"Abandoned mines demand costly perpetual monitoring and remediating. Geothermal use of the mine will offset these costs and help the mining industry to become more sustainable," says Seyed Ali Ghoreishi Madiseh, lead author on the paper. The team estimates that up to one million Canadians could benefit from mine , with an even greater potential benefit for more densely populated countries such as Great Britain.

Explore further: Switch on sunlight for a brighter future

Related Stories

Mines could provide geothermal energy

Jul 27, 2009

Mine shafts on the point of being closed down could be used to provide geothermal energy to local towns. This is the conclusion of two engineers from the University of Oviedo, whose research is being published ...

Zero-emission electricity studied to power the Galilee Basin

Feb 10, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- In the wake of mining billionaire Clive Palmer’s announcement to build six mines in the Galilee Basin, UQ research is investigating the possibility of emission-free electricity from a plentiful underground ...

Hot rocks fire up energy from the depths

Jun 23, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists at Newcastle University have completed the first phase of a giant central heating system that will harness heat from deep underground.

Recommended for you

Switch on sunlight for a brighter future

4 hours ago

Imagine sitting in a windowless room yet having the feeling of the sun shining on your face. This unique experience is now possible thanks to the COELUX EU-funded project which recreates the physical and ...

US urged to drop India WTO case on solar

20 hours ago

Environmentalists Wednesday urged the United States to drop plans to haul India to the WTO to open its solar market, saying the action would hurt the fight against climate change.

Is nuclear power the only way to avoid geoengineering?

Apr 23, 2014

"I think one can argue that if we were to follow a strong nuclear energy pathway—as well as doing everything else that we can—then we can solve the climate problem without doing geoengineering." So says Tom Wigley, one ...

Finalists named in Bloomberg European city contest

Apr 23, 2014

Amsterdam wants to create an online game to get unemployed young people engaged in finding jobs across Europe. Schaerbeek, Belgium, envisions using geothermal mapping to give households personalized rundowns of steps to save ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Bradfield
not rated yet May 02, 2012
For more information on this topic take a look at :

http://inhabitat....project/

A project running in the Netherlands since 2008
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (1) May 02, 2012
It ain't rocket science boys, no matter how much whining denialists claim it is.

More news stories

Facebook buys fitness app Moves

Facebook has bought the fitness app Moves, which helps users monitor daily physical activity and their calorie counts on a smartphone.

Cell resiliency surprises scientists

New research shows that cells are more resilient in taking care of their DNA than scientists originally thought. Even when missing critical components, cells can adapt and make copies of their DNA in an alternative ...