John Hood and Les Lisk see waste as the future of energy efficiency for buildings in every sector, including the mining industry.
Their company, Renewable Resource Recovery Corp., has created two unique energy-generating products that capture “wasted” energy and turn it into power and money.
The Sudbury company’s @Source-Energy System includes the @Source-Energy pipe and @Source-Energy wall.
Hood, vice-president of research and development, and Lisk, vice-president, finance, spent three years researching, developing and building the pipes and two years working on the walls. They joined forces with Rainbow Concrete owner Boris Naneff and geothermal expert Robert Mancini to launch the company.
“We build the only wall in the world we know of that pays for itself,” Hood said.
The wall is a pre-cast, pre-stressed concrete panel with photovoltaic (PV) cells installed on the face and a thermal heat recovery system embedded in the concrete. The wall is fabricated as a structural wall, a roof panel, or as a cladding panel for residential, commercial, industrial and institutional buildings.
It generates electricity that can be used in a building or sold to the electrical grid, providing a revenue source for the building’s owners.
A fluid circulated through the wall’s thermal energy recovery system collects heat to produce domestic hot water or for storage in underground pipes.
The pre-cast concrete @SourceEnergy pipe extracts energy from effluent and from the adjacent ground.
The system recovers 6,800 to 17,000 BTUs per hour of heat energy from one cubic metre of wastewater, depending on the water speed, downward gradient in the sewer pipe, and the quality and temperature of the water.
Heat is also recovered from the adjacent ground with site tests indicating a recovery of up to 24,000 BTUs per hour per100 ft. for a 400 mm outside diameter pipe.
The @Source-Energy System is controlled through a heat pump with a dual plenum, which upgrades low level heat extracted from the pipe and wall, providing high level heating to the building and to the tankless water heater.
The tankless water heater in the system functions as a mixer tank as well as providing domestic hot water and supplementary heating to the building.
“We use the principles of ground source heating (geothermal) to capture wasted heat from sewer pipes and from behind PV panels. It’s all wasted heat no one captured before. It is basically free energy,” Hood said. “Geothermal has been around for a long time, but we’re using it in a new and innovative way. It’s a way to generate revenue. The system operates like a regular furnace through a heat pump. It regulates the temperature and does heating and cooling using the same unit.”
Lisk and Hood see the systems benefiting the mining industry. The technology can be applied to any infrastructure to help reduce costs.
The company landed its first deal with Cambrian College for the new Xstrata Nickel Sustainable Energy Centre. The system, composed of 10 pre-cast walls with a total of 18 PV panels, is set up for student research and went into operation in November 2011.
“We had to get the first one built and operating to show how well it works,” Lisk said. “There are many benefits for the mining industry because they have a lot of wasted heat in all processes and buildings. A lot of mines are in remote areas and our systems can provide heat and cooling basically free of charge. There could also be applications underground for cooling. With the pipes, the larger the pipe, the more the heat. The energy could be unlimited. We have big plans for this technology.
“Response so far has been excellent” Lisk said. “Our system improves infrastructure and helps pay it off. It’s almost too good to be true, but it is - you’re getting free energy.”