Feasibility of using the water from the abandoned and flooded coal mines as an energy resource for space heating

Athresh, A.P. ORCID: 0000-0001-6165-4604, 2017. Feasibility of using the water from the abandoned and flooded coal mines as an energy resource for space heating. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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This research project aims to study the feasibility of using the water from the abandoned and flooded coal mines for space heating applications using a Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) in open loop configuration and take a conceptual idea to a commercial deployment level. The flooded coal mines are the legacy that has been left behind after the three centuries of continuous operations by the coal mining industry. The closure of all coal mines in the UK has led to the flooding of all those abandoned underground workings and due to the subsequent rise in the water levels; mine water is posing a threat to the water table. Mine water in the abandoned coal mines can be considered as a low enthalpy energy resource with very little practical applications, however it can be upgraded to a high enthalpy resource by using a heat pump and used for heating applications. Heat pumps are considered as low carbon heating systems, using them for the space heating purpose is economically and environmentally beneficial compared to the conventional heating systems.

A generic methodology has been developed to help in evaluating the process of harnessing the energy from mine water for the heating applications using an open loop GSHP. The methodology covers the core technical, environmental and economic aspects. An MS Excel based tool has been developed to assist in the design and commercial evaluation of a mine water based heating system. Financial model is created using Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) method to analyse the feasibility of implementing the system. Theoretical case studies have been conducted for three different sites using the software tool. Two pilot plants have been constructed at two different sites, namely at Markham, Alkane Energy and at Caphouse, National Coal Mining Museum (NCM) for the experimental work.

The field trials from the two pilot plants show promising results in terms of reducing both the operating costs and carbon emissions. It also shows that with a careful design, the threat posed by mine water to the operations and maintenance of the plant can be minimised. The three theoretical case studies conducted show that the energy from the flooded coal mines is a good alternative source for heating and can contribute significantly in reducing the operating costs and the carbon emissions at those proposed sites.

The abandoned mines underlie large parts of UK and at many sites, the water is being pumped out to prevent it from coming in contact with the water table and pollute the water bodies, these sites are ideal to implement the mine water based heating system, as they can support large thermal loads. The energy from the flooded coal mines is ideal to supplement or even replace the conventional sources of heating, as it is reliable and contributes to a reduction in carbon emissions and operating costs. Even though the initial capital costs are higher than other conventional heating systems, it becomes economically feasible with a good payback period, when additional financial incentives in the form of Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), currently being offered by the government for GSHP technology, is taken into consideration. This research work shows that the energy from the mine water can be profitably harnessed to heat the buildings. The unique design developed to design the system, achieves continuous operation and minimises the maintenance requirements, even when a heavily polluted water is used.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Athresh, A.P.
Date: February 2017
Divisions: Schools > School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 13 Mar 2018 12:45
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2021 10:51
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/32936

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