18 MAR 2019


In a first of its kind move, engineers developing the HS2 super-hub at Old Oak Common believe they can provide energy for up to 500 London homes by recycling heat from the brakes and engines of high-speed trains.

HS2 Ltd say by using five air source heat pumps, engineers could draw warm air from the railway’s tunnels into a local District Heating System, instead of it being extracted by traditional ventilation systems that seeps into the ground surrounding the tunnels.

The organisation believe that this innovative mechanism would enable hot water power and central heating for up to 500 new homes that could be built nearby.  

Based on current energy price forecasts, HS2 estimates that the investment waste heat recycling system would pay for itself after just four years.

Compared to gas boilers being used in the homes, recycling heat generated by trains’ engines and brakes could reduce the carbon footprint of 500 houses by more than a fifth (22%).

While plans are at an early stage, innovation leaders say the technology is proven and as the project progresses HS2 say it will endeavour to work with local partners to make this aspiration a reality.

Old Oak Common’s crossover box is said to be the only place on HS2’s first section between London and the West Midlands capable of supporting waste heat recovery technology, but there may be further opportunities on the high speed network’s Leeds and Manchester routes.

HS2 innovation manager Pablo García explained: “Near Old Oak Common we’re building a crossover box. This is an underground hall that houses railway points to enable trains to arrive and depart from any of the station’s platforms. Our plans would see warm air pushed into the crossover box by trains, in effect acting like pistons. It then rises to be harnessed by air source heat pumps, converted into hot water and transported to homes by insulated pipes.”

The new HS2 station at Old Oak Common is set to be the UK’s best connected rail interchange, with an estimated 250,000 people passing through every day. The organisation claim it will help kick-start the UK’s largest regeneration project, which aims to transform the former railway and industrial area, into a new neighbourhood supporting up to 65,000 jobs and 25,500 new homes, based on figures published by the Old Oak & Park Royal Development Corporation.

“Our study focused on possible Phase One opportunities because its designs are most advanced,” García added. “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.”  

Currently more than 1,000 people are at work on HS2 across London, clearing the way for the start of construction. At Euston and the future HS2 terminus at Curzon Street in Birmingham demolitions are well underway alongside the project’s pioneering archaeology programme.


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