At Denver’s redeveloping National Western Center campus, two giant sewer pipes that carry wastewater and human byproducts to a treatment facility north of downtown soon will be put to work on a second mission: keeping buildings a nice, comfy temperature.
Officials overseeing the 250-acre campus in north Denver announced Monday that the National Western complex is primed to be home to the largest sewer heat recovery energy system in North America.
The system will harvest heat from water that goes down the drains of Denverites’ sinks, showers, dishwashers, washing machines and toilets and flows into a pair of 72-inch sewer pipes that run through the campus along the South Platte River. The closed-loop system keeps the soiled, sewer-pipe water isolated as it uses a heat pump to transfer warmth — read: energy — from that water to pipes filled with fresh water. The heated clean water is then used to power heating and cooling machinery in buildings, National Western officials explained.
“We’re making long-term decisions for this campus about how are we going to heat and cool these buildings, and there’s a lot of ways that you can do that,” National Western Center CEO Brad Buchanan told The Denver Post on Monday. “While it may not seem very romantic to look at sanitary sewer lines, in fact, there is tremendous thermal energy in them.”
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