Perhaps best known by many from the film Fargo, Brainerd, MN is putting itself on the map for its innovative approach to heating and cooling numerous municipal buildings. Images from the film show a blizzard bombarding the small city. It is that kind of winter that calls for continuous heat in homes and buildings. It is this type of local climate that requires inventive thinking to produce sustainable practices. This is where Hidden Fuels comes into play.
On their about page, the Brainerd based company lays out their vision for capturing energy from the waste stream. “Hidden Fuels is a renewable energy company providing services and products to efficiently capture and distribute unused energy from waste, primarily home, municipal wastewater and biomass wastes.” One of the firm’s principals has two patents that relate to the “capture of electrical energy from a septic system waste stream.” Minnesota Public Radio reports Hidden Fuels’ idea stems from 2009 when “the business partnered with the city and the school district and received a $45,000 grant from the federal stimulus package.”
Last year the Brainerd Dispatch reported that the energy from the sewer, “has the ability to heat 450 homes in Brainerd per year or part of it could heat the Brainerd High School.” MPR states that system “will function in a manner very similar to geothermal heating and cooling systems. By circulating water through a heat pump, energy can be extracted to either heat or cool a building.” The paper goes on to state that a system designed to extract energy from wastewater flows would employ glycol lines in a heat exchange system. The concept is not new. “Energy from the wastewater has been used for 14 years to heat the Brainerd Public Utilities building and keep its sidewalks free of snow and ice during the winter.”
Some of our earliest posts dealt with these ideas. The following comes from an article about the sustainability initiatives that were part of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, written just one month into the 2nd Green Revolution. “One unique component involves capturing waste heat produced by refrigeration of the ice rink and pumping it into nearby buildings. In addition, heat will be extracted from sewage using a heat exchanger, as mentioned in an earlier post.”