River power will heat Tall Ship

13 Jan 2010

by Chris Watt, The Herald

She's one of the oldest Clydebuilt vessels still afloat, but Glasgow's Tall Ship is getting a 21st-century makeover that puts her leagues ahead of modern competition.

The Glenlee will be one of the first structures in Scotland to benefit from technology that draws heat from river water, cutting energy bills and reducing harmful emissions to near zero.

A £200,000 water source heat pump is to be fitted by April, and engineers say it will shave 75% off the vessel's annual heating bills while saving the equivalent of six double-decker bus loads of carbon emissions.

Similar technology is already employed in some designer homes, where pumps draw energy directly from the ground to provide heat, but the system on board the Glenlee is believed to be a world first.

Metal heat collectors sited next to the ship will be used to expand pressurised inert gases and force them through a valve.

Because of an effect first noted by Lord Kelvin, the heat this generates can be extracted and used to power on-board radiators and water heaters.

Dr Christopher Mason, chairman of the Clyde Maritime Trust, said: "I believe the Glen-lee will be the first floating museum ship in the world to be heated with renewable energy.

This innovative heating system complements The Tall Ship's ethos and provides an educational message about the benefits of using "nature's power".

The new heating is part of a wider £1.5 million refurbishment project that will make essential improvements to the Glenlee in time for her to move alongside the new Riverside Museum in March 2011.

Funding for the heat pump was provided by the Scottish Government's Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (Cares), which gave nearly £150,000, and by private firm Rock Wool Insulation, which donated £68,000 worth of insulation to improve efficiency.

Iona McDonald, Cares development officer for Greater Glasgow and Lanarkshire, said the Government was "pleased" to be involved in the project.

Colin Kerr of Glasgow-based firm Eco Living, which masterminded the technology behind the system, said it could continue to produce usable heat even during a cold snap like that seen this winter, when the Clyde froze over for the first time in years.

The know-how for this kind of project has existed in Scandinavia for several decades, Mr Kerr added, but countries elsewhere in the world have been slow to catch on to the potential of renewable source heat pumps.

The refurbishment will help secure the future of the Glenlee, already one of the oldest surviving Clydebuilt sailing ships. Launched from the Bay Yard, Port Glasgow, in 1896, it has circumnavigated the globe four times.

She was sold to the Spanish navy in 1922, and used as a training vessel until 1981.

She lay almost forgotten in a Seville harbour until she was rediscovered and saved from the scrapyard by the Clyde Maritime Trust in 1992.

Reproduced with the permission of the Herald and Times Group.

  • The Tall Ship

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