Every day, vast amounts of heat generated from industry, data centres and hockey rinks is just wasted.
When the source of waste heat is close enough, it can be tapped and piped into a building or a district energy system.
Clearly, it’s not feasible to run pipes from a cement plant in East Richmond, an oil refinery in Burnaby or a big data centre in Kelowna all the way to a district energy system in Vancouver or Surrey.
But what if it could be stored and transported by truck?
Engineers at Simon Fraser University (SFU) think mobile thermal heat delivery could be a thing. They calculate that six mobile heat tanks delivered by truck each day could supply 40% of the Surrey district energy system’s peak heating needs.
With support and funding from the City of Surrey, CanmetEnergy and the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS), they have been developing a mobile thermal battery that they call a Mobile Thermal Energy Storage (M-TES) that uses a thermochemical solution that can store latent heat for long periods of time so that it can be transported and discharged.
“This project, in a nutshell, is why don’t we harvest the heat and store it, and bring it to this district energy network,” said Majid Bahrami, an engineer who leads the project and research team at SFU’s Laboratory for Alternative Energy Conversion.
Surrey’s district energy network burns natural gas to provide heat to the buildings that are connected to it. The idea is to use captured waste heat to reduce the district energy system’s use of natural gas, and therefore shrink its carbon footprint.