Zurich Airport wants to use ice age channel for air conditioning

Kloten ZH – An ice-age, water-bearing channel 300 meters below Zurich Airport could be the solution for emission-free heating and cooling of the airport buildings. It could be used to store heat and cold. Corresponding investigations are currently taking place.

Flughafen Zürich AG is currently exploring an ice-age gully under the airport. It is 300 meters deep and about 30 kilometers long. As it is filled with water-bearing gravel, it could serve as a heat and cold storage facility to heat and cool a significant proportion of the airport buildings without emissions.

"By moving away from fossil fuels such as oil and gas, we are coming much closer to our goal of achieving zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040," said Lydia Naef, Chief Real Estate Officer at Flughafen Zürich AG, in a press release. "Geothermal energy plays a central role in this."

Together with IG Rinne, a consortium consisting of the engineering consultancy Geo Explorers, Sieber Cassina & Partner AG and E-Axiom GmbH, Flughafen Zürich AG is developing a multi-stage process to analyze the potential of the channel as a storage facility. The results of the investigation to date are said to be promising.

If successful, Zurich Airport plans to use the channel as a heat and cold storage facility from 2026. She estimates the investment costs for exploring the channel and building the wells at between 4 and 8 million Swiss francs, depending on the number of wells required. In addition, there would be development costs for cables and other technical measures.

The project is being funded and supported by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy as a pilot project, says Emanuel Fleuti, Head of Sustainability and Environment at Zurich Airport. "We make all our findings available to the scientific community and can thus contribute to research into emission-free cooling and heating systems." ce/mm

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