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Wastewater as a Heat Source for Individual Residence Heating: A Techno-economic Feasibility Study in the Brussels Capital Region

Original scientific paper

Journal of Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems
Volume 5, Issue 3, September 2017, pp 289-308
DOI: https://doi.org/10.13044/j.sdewes.d5.0148
Jan Spriet , Patrick Hendrick
Aero-Thermo-Mechanics, Université Libre de Bruxelles, F. D. Roosevelt Avenue 50, 1050 Brussels, Belgium


A large part of the thermal energy in buildings is lost through the drain and ends up as warm wastewater in the sewer system. The installation of heat exchangers in the sewer system enables a rise of the source temperature of heat pumps, increasing their coefficient of performance. To investigate the potential of such a technique in the Brussels Capital Region, a test facility named MYRTES has been installed in the sewer network, the starting point of this facility being to have one heat recovery system per residence. To estimate the heat recovery rate, potentially available in the Brussels Capital Region, the data from this test facility have been used as inputs and validation for a predictive model, considering both the heat recovery and its financial and environmental implications. Simulations show a minimum heating power of the heat pump of 6.3 kW, at a hot water temperature of 45 °C. A maximum of 35% of the buildings in the Brussels Capital Region are eligible for the use of such a system. At current tariffs, the levelized cost of energy for these systems, is lower than for traditional air heat pumps, but is higher than for gas boiler systems. The total equivalent warming impact, however, is estimated to be around 49% lower than for gas boiler systems and around 13% lower than for air heat pumps. In conclusion, heating through these types of systems is more expensive than gas boiler systems, but with increased consumption the competitiveness of these systems improves.

Keywords: Individual residence heating, Observations on municipal sewer systems, Wastewater heat recovery, Competitiveness assessment, Total equivalent warming impact of heating systems.

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