Dissertation: Seabed sediment and asphalt areas are noteworthy sources of heat energy

Anne Mäkiranta Vaasan yliopiston kampuksella
Seabed sediment and asphalt areas are noteworthy sources of heat energy also in northern conditions, is revealed by Anne Mäkiranta's doctoral dissertation in the field of energy technology. Sediment heat has been studied in Suvilahti, Vaasa, and asphalt heat in the parking area of University of Vaasa for several years.

– I studied the usability of two new kinds of geothermal heat sources in Finnish conditions, says Mäkiranta, who is defending her doctoral dissertation on 18th December in the University of Vaasa.

A city area accumulates enormous amounts of heat energy into their environments due to buildings, streets, traffic and people. Also the scarcity of vegetation has the impact that it is warmer in a city environment than in the countryside. Heat collects, among other things, below asphalt surfaces and in the substrate of shallow water bodies.

In the study, the renewability of sediment heat was first verified. Undersea sediment is nature's own heat reservoir, so to speak. The sun charges heat into the sediment layer during the summer. The 2008 housing exhibition area of Suvilahti, Vaasa uses this heat reservoir for heating and cooling the houses. Permanent lowering of the sediment's temperature was not observed despite several heating seasons. Below asphalt, temperatures were found to remain above zero degree in a depth of half a metre from April until December.

According to Mäkiranta, because of its seasonal availability, asphalt heat should be stored or used for example to revive a heat well instead of direct use. A particular downside of asphalt heat is heat loss during the night. The usability of asphalt heat can be developed by improving the heat transferability of asphalt by changing the soil structures below the asphalt or by irrigation of the asphalt surface.

Wider use of geoenergy would improve energy self-sufficiency

The wider perspective of the study concerns saving energy and energy self-sufficiency.

– My doctoral thesis studies the possibilities of utilising urban energy right where it is generated. Furthermore, the energy self-sufficiency of our country can be improved by investing in more extensive use of geoenergy than is currently the case. Local energy should be used as extensively as possible instead of transporting energy from long distances, says Mäkiranta.

– Why bring energy for example in the form of heating fuel from far away, when underground local heat and local sources of waste heat are available and usable?

The doctoral dissertation consists of seven part-studies, four of which concern sediment heat and three concern asphalt heat. Research measurements were carried out in the period 2013–2017.

Public defence

The public examination of M.Sc. Anne Mäkiranta’s doctoral dissertation ”Renewable thermal energy sources: sediment and asphalt energy applications in an urban northern environment” will be held on Friday 18 December 2020 at 12.

The event will be organised online: https://uwasa.zoom.us/j/64924660831?pwd=cDlaak9QRllXN2RuZlB1ME9wZVpndz09
Password: 385559

The field of dissertation is Energy Technology. Professor Markku Virtanen (Aalto University)  will act as an opponent and Research Manager, Ph.D. Erkki Hiltunen as a custos. The examination will be held in Finnish.

Doctoral dissertation

Mäkiranta, Anne (2020) Renewable thermal energy sources: sediment and asphalt energy applications in an urban northern environment. Acta Wasaensia 454. Väitöskirja. Vaasan yliopisto.

Publication pdf: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-476-935-8

Further information

Anne Mäkiranta, tel. +358 29 449 8302, email: anne.makiranta@uwasa.fi

Anne Mäkiranta was born in Rovaniemi in 1978 and graduated from Muurola upper secondary school in 1997. She has completed two degrees at the University of Vaasa: Master of Science in Economics and Business Administration in 2002 majoring in Industrial Management, and a master's degree in Engineering majoring in Energy Technology in 2013. In her career, Mäkiranta has worked as a project researcher and a planner at the University of Vaasa in 2005–2006, 2008, 2010, 2012–2018, and as a doctoral student 2019–2020. In 2021, Mäkiranta will work as a university teacher at the University of Vaasa.


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