Scientists to turn Subway water into sustainable heat

14 October 2013

Heat from the ingress water in Subway tunnels will be extracted as part of the project

Heat from the ingress water in Subway tunnels will be extracted as part of the project

A Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) team is to work with Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) to transform ingress water in Glasgow’s underground system into a sustainable heat source.

SPT has to continually manage the amount of water within its Subway tunnel network.   

The GCU team will support SPT in developing a financially and environmentally effective method of harvesting heat from the water. That will allow SPT to offer an even more efficient service and further improve customers’ experience of the system.

The heat from the ingress water will be extracted using an energy efficient heat pump. Water in the underground tunnel has a temperature of around 14C, which is sufficient for extracting heat. The pumps will allow SPT to use this heat in its stations and other buildings.

The work will be done as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between the University and SPT. The KTP programme supports businesses to access the knowledge and skills that reside within universities to improve competitiveness and productivity

GCU’s Dr Nicholas Hytiris, a geotechnical specialist in the University’s School of Engineering and Built Environment and Institute for Sustainable Engineering and Technology Research, said: “SPT has expertise in the current methods and systems used to maintain and manage the water in and around its subway tunnels.

“We will support the company in developing specific knowledge in the analysis of ground conditions within the subway system, how to take a geological surveys and measurements and the interpretation of these results for locating heat pumps.”

The KTP is worth more than £136,000 to the University, partly funded by SPT and partly by the programme.  It will see a KTP Associate appointed to carry out the research and development work, while working in partnership with SPT.

Gordon Maclennan, SPT Chief Executive, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for SPT and builds positively on our existing energy efficiency strategy. We’ve already installed solar panels and voltage regulation systems at Buchanan Bus Station, a ground source heat pump at our Subway depot in Govan and LED lighting across all of our facilities but we’re always keen to improve our green credentials. 

“This innovative approach has potential to produce many more benefits for SPT including reducing our energy usage and costs.  I’m delighted that we can also work with the university to share expertise, it will no doubt deliver great results.”

The KTP programme is funded by the Technology Strategy Board and 17 other funding organisations.

Professor Mike Mannion, GCU Vice-Principal and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research), said: “This KTP builds on GCU’s strong track record for research in the area of sustainable urban environments. It is an excellent example of the way our academics apply their knowledge and understanding to solving practical problems, thereby bringing real benefit to the communities and people we serve.”