Waste heat from supercomputer used to warm Scottish homes


A new scheme in Scotland is expected to warm at least 5000 houses using recycled heat stored in mines from the University of Scotland’s Advanced Computing Facility.

A “first-of-its-kind” heating system in the UK is on trial in Edinburgh to assess if waste heat from the University of Edinburgh’s Advanced Computing Facility (ACF) could provide warmth to Scottish homes.

The ACF currently houses the UK’s national supercomputer and generates up to 70 GWh of excess heat annually.

This amount is expected to rise to 272 GWh with the installation of the Exascale supercomputer.

The “£2.6 million feasibility study” will assess whether the water in disused mines near the facility could be used to heat homes in Edinburgh.

“The process of cooling these supercomputers would be augmented to transfer the captured heat into the mine water – up to a maximum temperature of 40°C,” the press release reveals.

Heat would then be transported to homes via heat pump technology by the natural groundwater flow in the mines.

Permitting the trial is successful, the study could serve as a global blueprint to convert disused mines into underground heat storage systems.

Approximately a quarter of UK homes stand above abandoned mines, meaning roughly seven million households could have “their heating needs met.”

£500k is being provided by the lead research partner – the University of Edinburgh.

One million pounds has been awarded to the project by the Scottish Enterprise through the Joint Programming Platform Smart Energy Systems (JPP SES) and Geothermica.

A further 1 million dollars has been allocated to the project from the US Department of Energy, which will fund researchers from the Idaho National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory.

Many researchers are on board, including individuals at the University College Dublin, funded by Geothermica and the Geological Survey Ireland – the University of Strathclyde are additional project partners.


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