Product has been added to the basket
Item has been added to bibliography

Central Scotland: Heat from the Scottish underground

22 November 2016
Add to my calendar
Event type:
Lecture, Evening Meeting, Regional Group
Organised by:
Central Scotland Regional Group
University of Strathclyde, Glasgow
Event status:

From Cullen's alcoholic experiments to Glasgow's Irn Bru

Given the lack of conventional high temperature geothermal reservoirs in Scotland and the rest of the UK, we are forced to fall back on one of three potential strategies to exploit geothermal heat:

  • Identify “warm wet” reservoirs at modest depth in permeable formations such as the New and Old Red Sandstones, potentially some Carboniferous sandstones and even some granites.
  • Drill deep boreholes into “dry” radioactive granites and utilise hydraulic fracturing to create “Hot Dry Rock” or “enhanced geothermal” reservoirs.
  • Use heat pumps in conjunction with more conventional, very low enthalpy groundwater resources.

This talk will explore the remarkable involvement of many Scottish scientists and engineers in the development of our understanding of thermogeology, heat pumps and low temperature heat engines.  From William Cullen’s (1710 - 1790) series of late-night experiments involving alcoholic spirits that gave rise to our understanding of the cooling effects of evaporation and expansion to Dr Thomas Graeme Nelson (T. G. N.) Haldane’s ground source heat pump systems at Auchterarder that first extracted heat from the Estate’s water supply around 1927 - 28.

Moving to more recent times the talk will explore the concept of mine-water based heat pump schemes, utilising what many regard as an environmental liability – the Irn Bru that is coal mine water. In the UK, the earliest mine water schemes were pioneered in Scotland and have been the inspiration for a series of other mine water heat pump schemes in England and Wales.


David Banks BA (Hons) MSc FGS CGeol – Holymoor Consultancy Ltd and University of Glasgow

Dave Banks has around 30 years’ experience as a practising hydrogeologist, having worked for Thames Water, the Geological Survey of Norway and, as director of his own firm, Holymoor Consultancy Ltd. He has international experience from Eastern Europe, Russia, Central Asia, Africa and South America.

He also enjoys a 20% post as Senior Research Fellow in Paul Younger’s group at Glasgow University’s School of Engineering. Dave was an early proponent of ground source heat in the UK. He has published two major textbooks – “Water Wells and Boreholes” (co-authored with Bruce Misstear and Lewis Clark) and “An Introduction to Thermogeology”.

He is a songwriter (recently taking part in the first Glasgow Songwriting Festival) and singer/guitarist with the lo-fi acoustic duo “The Sedatives” and the tweed-pop outfit “Me and Mr Jones”.


6.00pm for 6:15pm


University of Strathclyde
Room 5.09a (Knowledge Exchange Hub)
James Weir Building
Level 5
75 Montrose Street
Glasgow G1 1XJ

Further information

After the talk we will be going to The Ark (42-46 North Frederick St, Glasgow G1 2BS) for a drink – please join us!

Convenor Contact

Alistair McCay

Central Scotland Regional Group