SCHARWOUDE, Netherlands - A system that extracts thermal energy from asphalt and uses it to heat and cool buildings has been developed by Ooms Nederland Holding in collaboration with WTH and TipSpit. Called Road Energy Systems®, it exploits the heat-absorbing capacity of asphalt.
Road Energy Systems consists of a layer of asphalt that has a closed system of pipes running through it. The pipes are connected to underground aquifers. In summer, the sun heats the asphalt pavement, which in turn raises the temperature of the water in the pipes. The water is then transported to the heat source area, where it can be stored for several months. As soon as autumn arrives, the system brings the warm water to the surface, where a heat pump raises its temperature to a level suitable for low temperature heating systems. The surplus thermal energy is used to keep the temperature of the asphalt above the freezing point. The asphalt cools the water to the point where it can eventually flow to the cold source. In summer the process is reversed. Water is pumped up from the cold source and used to cool buildings. This warms the water, which then moves through the asphalt collector again, is heated further by the sun, and then injected into the heat source in the ground.
According to the company, benefits of the system are that it cuts CO2 emissions by 50 percent compared to conventional heating and cooling systems, and it minimizes the use of salt for icy roads.
A four-story apartment building and an industrial park in the Netherlands are currently utilizing the system.