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Earth Technology

The Power of a Hot Body 161

Hugh Pickens writes "Depending on the level of activity, the human body generates about 60 to 100 Watts of energy in the form of heat, about the same amount of heat given off by the average light bulb. Now Diane Ackerman writes in the NY Times that architects and builders are finding ways to capture this excess body heat on a scale large enough to warm homes and office buildings. At Stockholm's busy hub, Central Station, engineers harness the body heat issuing from 250,000 railway travelers to warm the 13-story Kungsbrohuset office building about 100 yards away. First, the station's ventilation system captures the commuters' body heat, which it uses to warm water in underground tanks. From there, the hot water is pumped to Kungsbrohuset's heating pipes, which ends up saving about 25 percent on energy bills. Kungsbrohuset's design has other sustainable elements as well. The windows are angled to let sunlight flood in, but not heat in the summer. Fiber optics relay daylight from the roof to stairwells and other non-window spaces that in conventional buildings would cost money to heat. Constructing the new heating system, including installing the necessary pumps and laying the underground pipes, only cost the firm about $30,000, says Karl Sundholm, a project manager at Jernhusen, a Stockholm real estate company, and one of the creators of the system. 'It pays for itself very quickly,' Sundholm adds. 'And for a large building expected to cost several hundred million kronor to build, that's not that much, especially since it will get 15% to 30% of its heat from the station.'"
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The Power of a Hot Body

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  • Headline (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 31, 2012 @09:16AM (#42431979)

    Who else expected something completely different from the headline?

  • by kanweg ( 771128 ) on Monday December 31, 2012 @10:32AM (#42432325)

    You can buy drainage pipes for the shower that are basically heat exchangers. Cold water is passed through them (in countercurrent with the water draining from the shower) before it goes to the shower head. Of course, you still have to add some hot water in the mixing faucet, but thermal energy is saved.

    Google: shower heat exchanger


  • by MNNorske ( 2651341 ) on Monday December 31, 2012 @11:29AM (#42432737)
    The Mall of America was designed with the foreknowledge that people moving through it would generate heat. When I was working a volunteer event there a number of years ago the community relations contact we had was cheerfully explaining that they typically don't heat the mall. She cited a figure of 100 people generates about the same thermal output as an average household furnace. Which puts into context why a party in a house gets so warm... Most office towers in northern latitudes tend to heat primarily around the edges of the building where heat bleeds out of the tower through the windows. Otherwise you may find that the interior of the build could actually be receiving cool air to dissipate the body heat of the office workers.

    So, while I applaud the re-use of body heat for something useful, it's definitely not a new concept. Architects and engineers have been accounting for it and sometimes harnessing it for years.

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"