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National News Roundup – November 20, 2023

Monday, November 20, 2023

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Public Sewer Lines Provide Warmth in Buildings

Some universities, cities using the method to reduce heating costs.

Colorado State University and the city of Seattle, Washington, are turning to heat from the sewers below ground to warm buildings. Proponents call it another form of renewable energy.

At the Denver campus of Colorado State University, heat from one of Denver’s main sewage lines is being diverted and transferred every day to heat clean water pipes – after which the heated water is transferred to campus buildings.

It’s been online since April and is the largest sewage heat recovery system in North America. An offshoot of the 72-inch sewage main provides 90 percent of the energy needed to heat and cool local buildings.

Seattle, Washington wants to take the concept a step further. Officials there have developed a program to pull heat from the sewer system and use it to heat privately owned buildings.

“It’s actually one of the first in the nation where we’ve been able to have a public-private partnership to allow private property owners to connect into the public sewer infrastructure, to use the heat that’s traveling in those pipes underground,” Policy and Research Unit Supervisor Erika Kinno said.

“What you have is a heat exchanger, which is actually very similar to the coils on the back of your refrigerator, and two parallel, closed pipes,” according to Kinno. “The sewer and the clean water never touch, it’s just the heat. The sewage, which is a little cooler (after the heat exchange process), goes back on a path its normal way.”

Such a system is being used on a much larger scale in the Netherlands. A housing corporation in Amsterdam is planning what is believed to be the first sewer warmth project that will tap into a main district sewage pipe to warm 1,600 existing social facilities and student homes. Sewage waste is seen as such a reliable heat source for millions of homes that the government wants to be unhooked from the Netherlands’ gas system by 2050. The Dutch call the concept riothermie.

(Sources: The Colorado Sun, KING5 News, The Guardian [UK])

Study: Narrow Roads Could Help Save Lives

Wider roads seen to have more crashes; speed also a factor.

Traffic fatalities are the leading cause of death nationally for people between the ages of one and 54.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health studied over a thousand streets across seven U.S. cities to analyze what might save lives. The evidence indicates the main reason for traffic fatalities is the lack of pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure, which may be in part due to roads that are too wide.

Traditional traffic management thinking says wider roads are safer because they leave drivers more room for error. “We found that wider is not better. Actually, wider streets have more crashes,” said Shima Hamidi, the principal investigator. The study showed that is especially true of roads with 12-foot lanes and speed limits of 30 or 35 miles per hour. They had 1.5 times more crashes than roads with just 9-foot lanes and the same speed limit.

Randy McCourt, past president of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, sounds a note of caution about narrow roads: “It’s a slam dunk on the 20 and 25 (miles per hour), but when you get to the 35, 40 (mph),” McCourt urges caution. He adds that drivers traveling at higher speeds have so much to think about that it could be tough to navigate a narrow lane safely.

(Source: National Public Radio)

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