The potential of wastewater heat and exergy: Decentralized high-temperature recovery with a heat pump

Forrest Meggers, Hansjurg Leibundgut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


There is a large potential in the heat losses from the wastewater leaving a building. We present a novel concept for recovering this heat. Instead of recovering it in a mixed state, the recovery immediately after use is evaluated. This allows the exploitation of the higher temperatures found at the points of warm water usage. By integrating a heat pump to utilize this heat, we can produce a higher temperature heat supply while maintaining a low temperature-lift requirement. This leads to the possibility of directly regenerating the hot water supply through wastewater heat recovery. The concept is a result of research into low exergy building systems, and is part of the IEA ECBCS Annex 49. We have modeled the annual performance of two different system scenarios, which result in a potential average annual coefficient of performance (COP) of over 6. The first scenario supplies up to 4400 kWh of heat for all hot water events with only 790 kWh of electricity, while the second scenario regenerated directly the hot water supply just for bathroom fixtures at 2400 kWh with just 410 kWh of energy. This is a significant reduction in the demand for hot water supply of a building compared to most modern installations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)879-886
Number of pages8
JournalEnergy and Buildings
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Exergy
  • Heat pump
  • Heat recovery
  • Hot water
  • Wastewater
  • Water heating


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