Heat and Cold from drinking water (HCD)

‘Heat and Cold from Drinking water’, ‘HCD ’ for short, constitutes a unique combination of water and energy: the thermal energy, which the drinking water contains, is used to bring together the supply and demand of thermal energy. Within the Water and Energy theme group of the water sector’s joint research programme (BTO), several preliminary studies have been done to assess the available delivery capacity of the drinking water network and the applications of the thermal energy. These studies have demonstrated the potential of HCD. The present project is a cross-sectoral one, which is conducted under both the TKI iDEEGO (built environment) and TKI Water Technology programmes.


The drinking water distribution network is an already existent infrastructure through which drinking water flows, with the objective of supplying safe and reliable drinking water to customers. This must not change. But the water in the distribution network exchanges thermal energy with the ground, which means the mains network can also be seen as a collector of renewable (ground) energy. Since the water flows through the network, the central question of this research is whether the distribution network can also be exploited as a transport network for renewable thermal energy.


In a pilot installation at Fontys in Tilburg, in which HCD is being used to balance an ATES (aquifer thermal energy storage) system, the partners involved want to conduct various measurements and studies, with a view to validating the preliminary studies’ models and determining the frameworks within which HCD can be applied. In short: (i) to demonstrate that HCD is feasible without negatively affecting the microbial quality of the drinking water, and (ii) to determine the range of the temperature effect in the drinking water network.


The research must show that the HCD concept can be safely implemented and provides a useful complement to the spectrum of sustainable energy sources.