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Engineering heat out of metro tunnels

Until recently, engineers have been unable to accurately calculate the amount of heat that a metro tunnel air contains. Researchers at EPFL’s Soil Mechanics Laboratory (LMS) have overcome that problem by precisely estimating the convection heat transfer coefficient. Their findings was published in Applied Thermal Engineering. This breakthrough paves the way for innovative applications involving so-called energy tunnels that can supply energy to built environments. The team also tested its model on Lausanne’s future metro line which, once complete, will carry passengers between the city’s train station to the north. “Our research shows that fitting the heat-recovery system along 50–60% of the planned route – or 60,000 square meters of tunnel surface area – would cover the heating needs of 1,500 standard 80m2 apartments, or as many as 4,000 Minergie-certified energy-efficient units,” explains Margaux Peltier, a scientific assistant at the LMS, whose Master’s research forms the basis of the article.