Modular, practical and innovative: Enerpad panels recover underground heat for heating and domestic hot water.
Enerpad geothermal panels are among the finalist innovations of ClimateLaunchPad.
Low enthalpy geothermal energy is being scaled up to reach even traditional factories that require large structural work.
We are talking about the new modular geothermal panels from Enerpad, a startup founded by researcher Margaux Peltier, scientific assistant at the Soil Mechanics Laboratory (LMS) of the Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne (EPFL).
The invention, now at the end of the famous ClimateLaunchPad competition, was born to easily exploit a still under-exploited energy potential.
If you’ve ever taken the metro, you’ve probably realized how hot stations, like train cars, can be. In the summer, the heat generated by the people themselves is transferred to these environments, while in the winter, the wagons supply part of the thermal energy to the tunnels.
As various experimental projects have shown in recent years, this heat can be captured and reused, for example, to heat neighboring buildings. However, the main difficulty lies in how to do it. An intelligent response to the challenge comes from the new “Made in Switzerland” geothermal panels.
These mini-plants are made up of layers of materials that store heat and a network of pipes that cross the back and through which circulates a thermoreactor fluid. The heat can then be transferred to heating the buildings.
Over the past year, Peltier has optimized the system and improved the design through research conducted under the supervision of Lyesse Laloui at the LMS.
With the first prototypes, we were able to achieve performance of 70 to 100 watts per square meter in our first laboratory tests, which is an excellent result.
One of the main advantages of this solution is the modularity which allows developers to size the final installation according to needs. In addition, the system allows easy installation in existing environments, on any type of wall.
Another advantage, according to the studies carried out, is that the energy produced can be constant, which makes it practical for applications in the real world: from basements, underground tunnels, garages to underground parking lots. Enerpad geothermal panels were selected to represent Switzerland at the final of the ClimateLaunchPad competition, the world’s largest competition for green business ideas, held in Amsterdam.
But the investigative work is not finished. The second, more functional prototype should be tested in real conditions in a Lausanne car park thanks to funding from Innosuisse.
The start-up explains that “Modular geothermal panels are suitable for installation in underground parking lots, where they can be easily connected to built surfaces using a tile system, benefiting from architectural integration without compromising maintenance and resistance of panels themselves. Our solution can reduce heating and cooling costs by 30% and energy-related CO2 emissions by 90% compared to current energy solutions based on fossil fuels.. “
More information: actu.epfl.ch