Portrait of Monika Kreitmair

Dr Monika Johanna Kreitmair

Surrey Future Fellow
MPhys, MSc, PhD


My qualifications

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Engineering
Thesis title: Uncertainty quantification in tidal energy resource assessment
University of Edinburgh
Master of Science (MSc) in Sustainable Energy Systems
University of Edinburgh
Master of Physics (MPhys)
University of Oxford

Previous roles

2019 - 2023
Postdoctoral Research Associate
University of Cambridge

Affiliations and memberships

Visiting Academic
Energy Efficient Cities Initiative (EECi)
University of Cambridge


Nikolas Makasis, Xiaoying Gu, Monika Johanna Kreitmair, Guillermo A. Narsilio, Ruchi Choudhary (2023)Geothermal pavements: A city-scale investigation on providing sustainable heating for the city of Cardiff, UK, In: Renewable Energy218( 119248)119248

Geothermal pavements can be used with ground-source heat pump systems to sustainably provide energy for heating and cooling by incorporating ground heat exchanger elements underneath pavement surfaces. This work investigates the suitability of geothermal pavements at scale, adopting the city of Cardiff, UK, as a case-study. A two-scale modelling framework, combining detailed small-scale with holistic large-scale approaches, is presented, incorporating the accuracy of the former with the continuity of the latter. The results show that between 184 kWh and 345 kWh of thermal energy per metre length of pavement can be supplied annually, depending on soil profile. Moreover, geothermal operation can reduce anthropogenic heat flux into the ground from heated basements, and its associated negative impacts, by about 390 MWh/year. A city-scale analysis using population-consistent geographic areas called LSOAs, estimates that geothermal pavements can supply about 23% of the entire city residential heat demand, or up to 75% with heat sharing between LSOAs. The suitability of geothermal pavements for larger LSOAs is highlighted, supplying up to 100% of the annual domestic heat demand. Investigating the carbon emissions of heating and cooling technologies shows potential reductions of up to 75% when replacing gas boilers and resistance heating with geothermal pavement systems. 

Nikolas Makasis, Monika Johanna Kreitmair, Rebecca Ward, Ruchi Choudhary (2023)Finding common ground: identifying shallow geothermal potential for the city of Cambridge, UK, In: Symposium on Energy Geotechnics 2023

Urban expansion and extensive anthropogenic utilisation of the subsurface can lead to thermal changes in the ground, as structures such as basements, sewage systems, and tunnels reject or absorb heat to/from the ground. This phenomenon, known as Subsurface Urban Heat Island, has been widely documented and studied in recent years [1,7]. Investigations have shown that significant soil and groundwater temperature anomalies can be caused, with local hotspots and temperature differences up to 20 °C [6]. These ground temperature anomalies can affect, for example, ground- and drinking water quality, ecosystem biodiversity, and geothermal energy utilisation, with the latter being the focus of this work. The city of Cambridge, UK, shown in Figure 1-left, is adopted as a case study site, and a novel scalable large-scale subsurface modelling methodology [4] is used to obtain an understanding of the ground thermal state, accounting for natural and anthropogenic influences. The geology for the region is obtained by importing historical borehole records for the wider Cambridge area into the British Geological Survey (BGS) Groundhog® Desktop Geoscientific Information System and constraining the lithologies using BGS generated superficial deposit and bedrock geology maps, producing a 3D lithological profile. Water table readings from borehole wells supplied by the Environment Agency are used to create hydraulic head and water table maps for the region. Hydraulic and thermal properties for the materials in the domain were obtained from available literature* [2]. The main anthropogenic features are basements, assumed to be heated at 18 °C, and sewers, assumed linked with building density and at 15 °C. Following the methodology, the domain is separated into 1096 blocks, each 200m by 200 m laterally and 100 m in depth, clustered into 10 archetypes. Each archetype comprises a set of features resulting in a ground thermal state common across all blocks within an archetype [4]. Having thus obtained the spatially varying ground temperature, the performance of typical shallow geothermal systems throughout the domain is assessed, initially investigating the theoretical geothermal potential. Figure 1-middle, shows the amount of heating power a typical 100 m double U-loop borehole can supply, providing a constant ground load from 1st of October to 31st May over a 50-year operation period. The power is computed using the Finite Line Source model and g-functions [5], setting a lower limit of   -2 °C for the ground loop circulating fluid temperature. The results show that hydro-geological features and anthropogenic thermal influences in the region can result in spatial variation of geothermal potential of up to 0.3 kW, or about 1746 kWh per year. A sensitivity analysis indicates that no single feature dominates in the contribution to the magnitude of geothermal potential, suggesting that both natural and anthropogenic sources are important influences on how much energy the ground can provide. Extending the analysis by incorporating estimated residential heating demand data [3], Figure 1-right shows the percentage of residential demand that can be fulfilled using geothermal boreholes, assuming these are drilled in suitable parking and non-major road areas for each block, at a minimum spacing of 6 m to avoid thermal interference. The calculations use g-functions to compute how much of the estimated heating demand a single borehole can supply, using half-hour demand distributions for 50 years (repeated annually), and multiplied by the estimated number of boreholes in each block to determine the total geothermal energy that can be supplied. For a large portion of the modelled domain, the entirety of the residential heat demand is expected to be feasibly fulfilled using shallow geothermal energy. Certain areas, mostly agricultural and green spaces with no to low demand, contain no suitable borehole drilling locations, i.e., parking or road areas (a conservative assumption adopted in this study), resulting in no energy being supplied geothermally (light gray). Average demand supplied within the remaining region is 91%, with a standard deviation of 21%. As the world urgently seeks to transition to a more sustainable energy infrastructure, utilising different clean energy technologies in a more extensive and organised way becomes increasingly necessary. Geothermal energy technologies can be particularly suited for coordinated large-scale utilisation, due to the significant capital costs and the continuous nature of the ground, acting as a shared resource for large communities. This work briefly demonstrates the capacity that geothermal technologies have to fulfil a significant portion of the residential heat demand at large scales, using the city of Cambridge as an example, and that organisations or governments can take advantage of the potential that exists in finding common ground.

Max Langtry, Chaoqun Zhuang, Rebecca Ward, Nikolas Makasis, Monika J Kreitmair, Zack Xuereb Conti, Domenic Di Francesco, Ruchi Choudhary Value of Information Analysis for rationalising information gathering in building energy analysis, In: arXiv (Cornell University)

The use of monitored data to improve the accuracy of building energy models and operation of energy systems is ubiquitous, with topics such as building monitoring and Digital Twinning attracting substantial research attention. However, little attention has been paid to quantifying the value of the data collected against its cost. This paper argues that without a principled method for determining the value of data, its collection cannot be prioritised. It demonstrates the use of Value of Information analysis (VoI), which is a Bayesian Decision Analysis framework, to provide such a methodology for quantifying the value of data collection in the context of building energy modelling and analysis. Three energy decision-making examples are presented: ventilation scheduling, heat pump maintenance scheduling, and ground source heat pump design. These examples illustrate the use of VoI to support decision-making on data collection.

Monika J. Kreitmair, Nikolas Makasis, Asal Bidarmaghz, Ricky L. Terrington, Gareth J. Farr, Johanna M. Scheidegger, Ruchi Choudhary (2020)Effect of anthropogenic heat sources in the shallow subsurface at city-scale, In: J.S. McCartney, I. Tomac (eds.), E3S web of conferences205

Rapid rates of urbanisation are placing growing demands on cities for accommodation and transportation, with increasing numbers of basements and tunnel networks being built to meet these rising demands. Such subsurface structures constitute continuous heat sources and sinks, particularly if maintained at comfortable temperatures. At the city-scale, there is limited understanding of the effect of heat exchange of underground infrastructures with their environments, in part due to limited availability of long-term underground temperature data. The effects of underground temperature changes due anthropogenic heat fluxes can be significant, impacting ventilation and cooling costs of underground spaces, efficiency of geo-energy systems, quality and quantity of groundwater flow, and the health and maintenance of underground structures. In this paper we explore the impact of anthropogenic subsurface structures on the thermal climate of the shallow subsurface by developing a heat transfer model of the city of Cardiff, UK, utilising a recently developed semi-3D modelling approach.

M. J. Kreitmair, T. A. A. Adcock, A. G. L. Borthwick, S. Draper, T. S. van den Bremer (2020)The effect of bed roughness uncertainty on tidal stream power estimates for the Pentland Firth, In: Royal Society open science7(1)pp. 191127-191127 Royal Soc London

Uncertainty affects estimates of the power potential of tidal currents, resulting in large ranges in values reported for sites such as the Pentland Firth, UK. Kreitmair et al. (2019, R. Soc. open sci. 6, 180941. ()) have examined the effect of uncertainty in bottom friction on tidal power estimates by considering idealized theoretical models. The present paper considers the role of bottom friction uncertainty in a realistic numerical model of the Pentland Firth spanned by different fence configurations. We find that uncertainty in removable power estimates resulting from bed roughness uncertainty depends on the case considered, with relative uncertainty between 2% (for a fully spanned channel with small values of mean roughness and input uncertainty) and 44% (for an asymmetrically confined channel with high values of bed roughness and input uncertainty). Relative uncertainty in power estimates is generally smaller than (input) relative uncertainty in bottom friction by a factor of between 0.2 and 0.7, except for low turbine deployments and very high mean values of friction. This paper makes a start at quantifying uncertainty in tidal stream power estimates, and motivates further work for proper characterization of the resource, accounting for uncertainty inherent in resource modelling.

M. J. Kreitmair, S. Draper, A. G. L. Borthwick, T. S. van den Bremer (2019)The effect of uncertain bottom friction on estimates of tidal current power, In: Royal Society open science6(1)pp. 180941-180941 The Royal Society

Uncertainty affects estimates of the power potential of tidal currents, resulting in large ranges in values reported for a given site, such as the Pentland Firth, UK. We examine the role of bottom friction, one of the most important sources of uncertainty. We do so by using perturbation methods to find the leading-order effect of bottom friction uncertainty in theoretical models by Garrett & Cummins (2005 Proc. R. Soc. A 461 , 2563–2572. ( doi:10.1098/rspa.2005.1494 ); 2013 J. Fluid Mech. 714 , 634–643. ( doi:10.1017/jfm.2012.515 )) and Vennell (2010 J. Fluid Mech. 671 , 587–604. ( doi:10.1017/S0022112010006191 )), which consider quasi-steady flow in a channel completely spanned by tidal turbines, a similar channel but retaining the inertial term, and a circular turbine farm in laterally unconfined flow. We find that bottom friction uncertainty acts to increase estimates of expected power in a fully spanned channel, but generally has the reverse effect in laterally unconfined farms. The optimal number of turbines, accounting for bottom friction uncertainty, is lower for a fully spanned channel and higher in laterally unconfined farms. We estimate the typical magnitude of bottom friction uncertainty, which suggests that the effect on estimates of expected power lies in the range −5 to +30%, but is probably small for deep channels such as the Pentland Firth (5–10%). In such a channel, the uncertainty in power estimates due to bottom friction uncertainty remains considerable, and we estimate a relative standard deviation of 30%, increasing to 50% for small channels.

N. Makasis, M.J. Kreitmair, A. Bidarmaghz, G.J. Farr, J.M. Scheidegger, R. Choudhary (2021)Impact of simplifications on numerical modelling of the shallow subsurface at city-scale and implications for shallow geothermal potential, In: The Science of the total environment791pp. 148236-148236 Elsevier B.V

Anthropogenic infrastructures in the shallow subsurface, such as heated basements, tunnels or shallow geothermal systems, are known to increase ground temperatures, particularly in urban areas. Numerical modelling helps inform on the extent of thermal influence of such structures, and its potential uses. Realistic modelling of the subsurface is often computationally costly and requires large amounts of data which is often not readily available, necessitating the use of modelling simplifications. This work presents a case-study on the city centre of Cardiff, UK, for which high resolution data is available, and compares modelling results when three key modelling components (namely ground elevation, hydraulic gradient distribution and basement geometry) are implemented either ‘realistically’, i.e. with high resolution data, or ‘simplified’, utilising commonly accepted modelling assumptions. Results are presented at a point (local) scale and at a domain (aggregate) scale to investigate the impacts such simplifications have on model outputs for different purposes. Comparison to measured data at individual locations shows that the accuracy of temperature outputs from numerical models is largely insensitive to simplification of the hydraulic gradient distribution implemented, while changes in basement geometry affect accuracy of the mean temperature predicted at a point by as much as 3.5 °C. At the domain scale, ground temperatures within the first 20 m show a notable increase (approximately 1 °C volume-averaged and 0.5 °C surface-averaged), while the average heat flux over the domain is about 0.06 W/m2 at 20 m depth. These increased temperatures result in beneficial conditions for shallow geothermal utilisation, producing drilling cost savings of around £1700 per typical household system or about 9% increase in thermal energy potential. Simplifications of basement geometry and (to a lesser degree) the hydraulics can result in an overestimation of these temperatures and therefore over-predict geothermal potential, while the elevation simplification showed little impact. [Display omitted] •Heated basements shown to increase volumetric ground temperature by up to 1.1 °C•Locally, modelling simplifications are more appropriate within groundwater flow.•At global scale, modelling simplifications somewhat overestimate ground temperature.•Simplifying heat source (basement) geometries shows greatest impact on temperature.•In this case study, heated basements increase shallow geothermal potential by 9–11%.

Jin-xiao Zhao, Guo-lu Yang, Monika Kreitmair, Yao Yue (2018)A simple method for calculating in-situ settling velocities of cohesive sediment without fractal dimensions, In: Journal of Zhejiang University. A. Science19(7)pp. 544-556 Zhejiang Univ

The settling velocity of sediment flocs is central to the study of the transportation process of contaminants in aqueous ecosystems. To describe the irregular shape of flocs, fractal theory based on the image analysis method is commonly used. However, this method usually leads to non-unique results as it requires the selection of a threshold intensity. Therefore, the main objective of this study is to develop a method to determine the settling velocity of both flocs and particles without using the fractal dimension. To achieve this goal, porosity was introduced as a substitute for the fractal dimension, and a simple method with three variables, floc diameter, mass concentration, and volume concentration of flocs, was developed. A density function method was used to obtain the floc porosity from a laser particle sizer which could obtain the volume concentration of sediment and an optical backscatter point sensor (OBS). Laboratory tests on two sediments from two different lakes were conducted. Results indicate that this method has a higher accuracy than traditional methods such as the Stokes equation and the Rubey equation. The variable density function performed better than the uniform density function and was, therefore, recommended for calculating the settling velocities for both micro and macro flocs. Using the developed method, the drag coefficient for the flocs was calculated and its accuracy analyzed. The method presented in this paper, which is simpler in determining in-situ settling velocities than traditional methods, also allows for direct inter-comparison between results derived from various studies.

Monika J. Kreitmair, Nikolas Makasis, Kathrin Menberg, Asal Bidarmaghz, Gareth J. Farr, David P. Boon, Ruchi Choudhary (2022)Bayesian parameter inference for shallow subsurface modeling using field data and impacts on geothermal planning, In: DATA-CENTRIC ENGINEERING3 Cambridge Univ Press

Understanding the subsurface is crucial in building a sustainable future, particularly for urban centers. Importantly, the thermal effects that anthropogenic infrastructure, such as buildings, tunnels, and ground heat exchangers, can have on this shared resource need to be well understood to avoid issues, such as overheating the ground, and to identify opportunities, such as extracting and utilizing excess heat. However, obtaining data for the subsurface can be costly, typically requiring the drilling of boreholes. Bayesian statistical methodologies can be used towards overcoming this, by inferring information about the ground by combining field data and numerical modeling, while quantifying associated uncertainties. This work utilizes data obtained in the city of Cardiff, UK, to evaluate the applicability of a Bayesian calibration (using GP surrogates) approach to measured data and associated challenges (previously not tested) and to obtain insights on the subsurface of the area. The importance of the data set size is analyzed, showing that more data are required in realistic (field data), compared to controlled conditions (numerically-generated data), highlighting the importance of identifying data points that contain the most information. Heterogeneity of the ground (i.e., input parameters), which can be particularly prominent in large-scale subsurface domains, is also investigated, showing that the calibration methodology can still yield reasonably accurate results under heterogeneous conditions. Finally, the impact of considering uncertainty in subsurface properties is demonstrated in an existing shallow geothermal system in the area, showing a higher than utilized ground capacity, and the potential for a larger scale system given sufficient demand.