Sewer pipes carrying dirty water will be a key part of National Western Center’s clean energy future

Aug 5, 2020

At Denver’s redeveloping National Western Center campus, two giant sewer pipes that carry wastewater and human byproducts to a treatment facility north of downtown soon will be put to work on a second mission: keeping buildings a nice, comfy temperature.

Officials overseeing the 250-acre campus in north Denver announced Monday that the National Western complex is primed to be home to the largest sewer heat recovery energy system in North America.

The system will harvest heat from water that goes down the drains of Denverites’ sinks, showers, dishwashers, washing machines and toilets and flows into a pair of 72-inch sewer pipes that run through the campus along the South Platte River. The closed-loop system keeps the soiled, sewer-pipe water isolated as it uses a heat pump to transfer warmth — read: energy — from that water to pipes filled with fresh water. The heated clean water is then used to power heating and cooling machinery in buildings, National Western officials explained.

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