Mine shafts on the point of being closed down could be used to provide geothermal energy, according to a report by Science Daily (www.sciencedaily.com). This is the conclusion of two engineers from the University of Oviedo in Spain, whose research is being published in the journal Renewable Energy (www.elsevier.com/locate/renene).

The method they have developed makes it possible to estimate the amount of heat that a tunnel could potentially provide. In theory, the researchers believe mine shafts could be converted into geothermal boilers, which could provide heat and hot water.

The researchers have developed a “semi-empirical” method (part mathematical and part experimental) to calculate the amount of heat that could be produced by a mine tunnel that is due to be abandoned, based on studies carried out while the shaft was still in use.

The study looks into geothermal exploitation of a two-kilometer-long mine shaft, in which the temperature of the rocks 500m below the surface is around 30 C. According to the researchers, water could be forced in through tubes at 7 C and return at 12 C, a big enough heat gain to be of benefit to towns located above the mines.

For more details on this story, see: Plataforma SINC (2009, July 27). Mines Could Provide Geothermal Energy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2009, from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090727081108.htm.