U.K. Project Turns Rail Brake And Engine Heat Into Heat For Homes

LONDON, U.K.–In a stroke of innovation around recycling heat and energy, a railway in the U.K.’s Midlands region will harness the heat and energy from locomotive brakes and engines to provide heat and hot water to up to 500 private homes.

Old Oak Common

The project revolves around a crossover box at Old Oak Common in London, the location for a new rail exchange that will see some 250,000 passengers a day.

How does it work?

Trains traveling through the crossover box to and from the station’s platforms will push warm air from engines and brakes, acting like pistons. The air will then rise before it is captured by heat pumps used to heat water and then sent to homes via insulated pipes.

According to a report from The Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the recycled heat could reduce the carbon footprint of 500 houses by 22%. HS2 Ltd, the government-funded firm behind the high-speed railway said the investment could pay for itself in four years, this throwing off profit thereafter.

“HS2 is so much more than a railway,” said Pablo García, innovation manager at HS2, as reported by Smart Cities World. “By taking a long-term view of how the benefits of investing in the new high-speed railway can be shared, we’re investigating how to provide sustainable, low-carbon heating and hot water to up to 500 new homes.”

He continued: “Designs for the second phase of the railway are at an earlier stage, and we hope to look at whether waste heat recovery technology could be deployed there too.”

The scheme will help kick-start the UK’s largest regeneration project, which aims to transform the former railway and industrial area, into a new neighborhood supporting up to 65,000 jobs and 25,500 new homes. Currently, more than 1,000 people are at work on HS2 across London, clearing the way for the start of construction.

David Kiley
David Kiley

David Kiley is Chief of Content for The BRAKE Report. Kiley is an award-winning business journalist and author, having covered the auto industry for USA Today, Businessweek, AOL/Huffington Post, as well as written articles for Automobile and Popular Mechanics.