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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2016

Low-grade heat recycling for system synergies between waste heat and food production, a case study at the European Spallation Source

Parker, Thomas; Kiessling, Anders


At present food production depends almost exclusively on direct use of stored energy sources, may perhaps they be nuclear-, petroleum-, or biobased. Arable land, artificial fertilizers, and fresh water resources are the base for our present food systems, but are limited. At the same time, energy resources in the form of waste heat are available in ample quantities. The European Spallation Source (ESS) will require approximately 270 GWh of power per year to operate, power that ultimately is converted to heat. This multidisciplinary case study details an alternative food production cooling chain, using low-grade surplus heat, and involving fermentation, aquaculture, nutrient recapture, and greenhouse horticulture including both use of low-grade surplus heat and recycling of society's organic waste that is converted to animal feed and fertilizer. The study indicates that by combining the use of surplus energy with harvest of society's organic side flows, for example, food waste and aquatic-based cash crops, sustainable food systems are possible at a level of significance also for global food security. The effects of the proposed heat reuse model are discussed in a system perspective and in the context of the UNSCD indicator framework. The potential sustainability benefits of such an effort are shown to be substantial and multifaceted.


Agriculture; aquaculture; cooling; horticulture; temperature; waste heat

Published in

Energy Science and Engineering
2016, volume: 4, number: 2, pages: 153-165

Authors' information

Parker, Thomas
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Nutrition and Management

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG7 Affordable and clean energy
SDG2 Zero hunger
SDG12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

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