We rely on our residential and commercial sewer systems to keep our environment sanitary. To most of us, that is all we need them for.
The town of Brainerd, Minnesota has got a totally different idea.
The town is in the planning process of developing a system that takes the thermal energy of sewer pipes and creates renewable energy for the purpose of heating and cooling.
The temperatures in the sewers are between 42 and 66 degrees Fahrenheit. The sewers are where the water from hot showers, drained dishwashers, and, yes, organic matter all comes to. However, it has been discovered that all of this can be maximized to create heat energy.
This exact technology is being used in building geothermal cooling and heating systems and it is this technology that will be used to set up the Brainerd sewer scheme. Energy is extracted through circulating water that is contained in a heat pump.
The pilot buildings are going to be the high school and the police station. This means they will be the first to use renewable energy from the sewer. It is possible that one sewer pipe could generate enough energy to heat the entire school, which means tens of thousands of dollars in energy costs saved every winter.
Overall, turning to the sewer for energy could cut the cost of the installation of such heating and cooling systems in half. Add that to the money that can be saved in heating and cooling bills and Brainerd has truly achieved a green solution to the high energy bills, which is a problem that plagues communities all over the country.