Reducing Environmental Impact of Industrial Production with Waste Heat

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Waste heat likely to boost energy efficient production, September 30, 2015. Image credit: TBIT

Waste heat and solar process systems have potential to reduce the environmental impact of industrial production. Yet, their adoption is hampered by cost efficiency concerns as legislation still allows attractive subsidies for from other renewables. A specialist of energy efficient technologies, Dr. Uli Jakob of dr. jakob energy research, points to the key bottlenecks to address in the next decade to unlock real innovation in European and global factories.

What is the first thing a plant manager would need to look at to make production more efficient?

A plant manager is always mindful of his/her energy bills, and therefore has to ponder ways of using waste heat from production. This could include directing it to other industrial processes, or converting it into electricity through organic ranking cycle (ORC) or into cooling via thermally driven sorption chillers. Renewable energy sources could also be called on in order to lower operational costs for future production.

As a second step, it would be worthwhile to install meters to get a clear picture of the energy flows inside the factory and its production processes.

Does the specificity of a given production system favour certain technologies over others? For instance, foundries where temperatures are extremely high may have wildly different requirements in the textile or food sectors.

Yes, depending on the energy demands and/or the temperature level of a given production process, certain types of renewable sources or waste heat technologies can be selected and others disregarded. As an example, for foundries, solar thermal collectors make no sense because the maximum temperature level they can provide is about 100°C to 250°C depending on the technology (non-concentrating or concentrating collectors). However, this technology is very interesting for the food and textile sectors, where lower temperature levels are required for the production process.

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