Austrian Town ‘recycles’ Heat From Unlikely Source — Its Sewers

With any other renewable energy source like solar power, it wouldnt be any sooner. Amstettens utility firm is lucky because a nearby paper factory pumps hot water into the sewer, making it warmer than normal. In addition, the firm uses under-floor heating, which is more efficient than radiators on the walls. But even in places without such advantages, the potential for the technology is substantial, said Florian Kretschmer from Viennas University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU). The advantage from this technology is that you have a very regional resource, and waste water is always present, Kretschmer told AFP. Other similar projects exist in Germany, and Austrias Alpine neighbour Switzerland is particularly advanced, with more than 200, and the potential is considerable, he said. – Weaning off fossil fuels – A study done by the BOKU and others estimates that between three and five percent of buildings in Austria could be heated using this technology, with larger buildings such as schools or office blocks particularly well-suited. This doesnt sound a lot, Kretschmer admits, but combined with other clean technologies like solar and wind power, it can play a role in weaning Europe off fossil fuels. Of course this alone is not going to solve the worlds energy problems, Kretschmer said. But what we need in the future is a good mix (of ways to produce power), and energy from waste water can play a part in this. One potential downside is the temperature of the sewer water might fall to such an extent that it would affect sewage treatment plants. But this would only happen if the technology was used on a very large scale.
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