How ESS Will Become Sustainable

Dec 19, 2012
The final Energy Report has been presented
The European Spallation Source will become not only the world's leading research facility using neutrons, but also the first large-scale research facility that will be environmentally sustainable. In the report Proposal for a Sustainable Research Facility the ESS Energy Collaboration Team, consisting of ESS, E.ON and Lunds Energi, presents the concept that will make this possible. The report can be downloaded here.


Excerpt from the foreword:

Not so long ago – but before it was settled that the European SpallationSource, ESS will be built in Lund, Sweden – two scientists, of which I had the fortune of being one, were discussing over lunch how to power such a facility in an environmentally friendly manner. On a napkin, that I still have in my drawer, we wrote down the outline to what has now been refined and will make ESS not only the world’s leading research facility using neutrons, but also the first large-scale research facility that will be environmentally sustainable.

Back then, six years ago, society had recognised the necessity of using new methods in industry to prevent global warming. Since humans have tended to use more and more electricity over time, big hopes were set on technical development and scientific breakthroughs. Facilities like ESS would, in the future, enable scientists to understand and create new materials that, in turn, would ensure future products left a smaller environmental impact than products of the day.

Less thought has been given, however, on how to power research facilities, since they will actually need large amounts of electricity. If we connect them to the electrical grid without considering the source of the power, and if we just vent their waste heat out in the air or into water, a serious paradox appears: meeting the need for new and better products with increased air pollution and CO2 emissions would clearly contradict the aim of the science performed at the research facilities.

When it came to deciding where to place ESS, the preferred bid, from Lund, would give the facility an environmentally sustainable design, using available knowledge and innovative techniques to make it CO2 neutral within its life expectancy. This would also have a positive impact on operational costs, giving us more science for each euro spent.

To make this possible we have partnered two energy companies, one local and one global (Lunds Energi and E.ON), who have shared their knowledge and expertise in the energy field. Engineers and scientists from ESS, E.ON and Lunds Energi have jointly made plans on how to produce renewable energy to power the facility and use the waste heat in the district heating system. Thus scientists will be able to investigate new materials that will help contribute to a better, more sustainable world, without polluting it while doing the research.

The results of the project are presented in this report.