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More (Research) with Less (Energy)

13 October 2011

For the first time, international experts on energy and representatives from large-scale laboratories are getting together to explore new ideas on energy management, identify best practices, and implement ways of effective collaboration. This community meets today in Lund, Sweden, at the European Spallation Source (ESS) for a 2-day workshop co-organized by CERN, ESS and the European Association of National Research Facilities (ERF). TRIUMF and UBC are among the invited participants.

"This workshop places the questions of better energy management in Big Science definitively on the international science agenda," said Thomas Parker, ESS Energy Manager. "We are honoured that the entire European large-scale laboratory community, as well as overseas guests, have come to Lund and we see this as a sign that the ideas that we have promoted are catching on."

"The idea of promoting this workshop comes from our commitment to share and improve energy management policies with other large-scale laboratories and organizations," said Frédérick Bordry, Head of CERN's Technology Department. "Energy management is, and will be increasingly, a mandatory key criterion in the design and operation of accelerators, and more generally for scientific facilities. It should not be seen as a constraint but as an opportunity to have more efficient installations and to make a concrete contribution to energy and environmental issues."

The workshop will focus on: efficiency and optimization of energy supply, energy recovery, storage and stability; challenges for heat recycling systems and water saving (energy conversion, heat recovery, high-temperature cooling loops). The discussion will also explore current and future strategic and financial challenges.

Orion Henderson from UBC's Office of Sustainability is participating on behalf of UBC and TRIUMF (click here for a copy of his remarks).  In a new partnership, the two organizations have been exploring options for using TRIUMF as a "heat producer" and UBC campus as a "heat consumer" through technology known as a district-energy system.  The technology is not new, but the ambition to use TRIUMF's cooling-water systems for its accelerators as a heat source is quite novel.  The system, if constructed, would be the first of its kind in North America. 

In simple terms, accelerators are not 100% efficient in converting input power into accelerating particles. The inefficiencies show up as heat in the beam pipes, magnets, and other components.  Elsewhere on site, the particle beam is directed onto targets to produce isotopes--which can overheat the target system.  To cool these components, TRIUMF uses sophisticated cooling-water systems to "take away" the heat.  Traditionally, this heat is transferred to a cooling tower where it is sent into the atmosphere by simple evaporation.  As TRIUMF expands with the ARIEL project, its overall cooling system could deal with as much as 10 MW of "unused" heat.  This level of energy transfer is similar to what UBC could need to heat new residences or warm buildings on campus. 

To seize this opportunity of heat "supply" and heat "demand," and to reduce the overall carbon footprint, TRIUMF and UBC are examining the feasibility of a district-energy system that would use an independent, isolated system to extract heat from TRIUMF and send it up Wesbrook Mall to campus.  From TRIUMF, Franco Mammarella, Remy Dawson, Lia Merminga, and Gary Ridout have been actively involved.  Advanced Applied Physics Solutions, Inc., has played a role in formulating the project and supporting some feasibility studies.

Further information:

--From a CERN press release with edits by T.I. Meyer, Head, Strategic Planning & Communication