Extracting Usable Heat from Mine Water

In the Reiche Zeche research and teaching mine
“Turn off the light – save energy!” How many times have we heard this advice, or given it ourselves? Unfortunately, however, a large part of the energy used in Germany's households (about 85 per cent) is not used for electricity, but merely for heating and hot water...

Scientists in Freiberg are therefore looking for alternative heat sources – from the depths of the earth. One possibility for the production of renewable energy is to use the mine water found at the bottom of mines. “The mine water produced there has been heated well thanks to the extensive system of shafts and tunnels and, depending on the depth, can reach temperatures of 12 to 30 degrees Celsius. The heat from the water can then be used directly or with the help of heat pumps,” explains Prof. Dr. Tobias Fieback, head of the Chair of Technical Thermodynamics at TU Bergakademie Freiberg. The technology is already being successfully implemented in individual projects, such as in Freiberg's hospital, the “Reiche Zeche” research & teaching mine, or for Freiberg's Freudenstein Castle.

Part of the Reiche Zeche mine water pumping system at a depth of 228 m below the surface © TU Bergakademie FreibergWithin the framework of the Saxon-Czech VODAMIN II collaborative project, the scientists from TU Freiberg are investigating the scale of the potential for using mine water geothermally for heating and cooling purposes. In addition to selecting potential sites for geothermal use in Saxony's Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) region, the researchers are also analyzing existing plants in terms of their operating behavior. The focus is on investigations into water chemistry as well as studying how fouling of plant components can occur – and how to prevent it. The scientists are also developing a guideline for mine owners and public institutions to inform them about the opportunities for and the implementation of heat recovery technology for mine waters. In addition, the possibilities surrounding mine water utilization will be made available to the public on an interactive website.

Flooded mine shaft

VODAMIN II is funded by the European Union to the tune of 3.7 million euro over a period of three years as part of the collaborative program “Free State of Saxony - Czech Republic 2014-2020”. The project partners involved are TU Bergakademie Freiberg, the Technical University of Ostrava, the University of Applied Sciences Zittau/Görlitz, SAXONIA Standortentwicklungs- und -verwaltungsgesellschaft mbH Freiberg and the state enterprise Brennstoffkombinat Ústí. The aim is to systematically investigate the influence of mine water and waste-pile runoff on groundwater and surface water in the Saxon-Czech development region.

Contact person:

Dr.-Ing. Thomas Grab, Tel.: 03731/39-3004

Logo EU mit Flagge

Ansprechpartner: 
Dr.-Ing. Thomas Grab, Tel.: 03731/39-3004