Recycling heat from industry could reduce carbon emissions

Mar 07, 2014 by Harriet Jarlett
Recycling heat from industry could reduce carbon emissions

Industrial processes that require high temperatures often expel any surplus heat into the environment. While industries are fairly good at using as much of this surplus as possible, a small amount of heat is always wasted.

A range of technologies already exists to help industries recycle heat, but they have never been fully evaluated.

In a new study, published in Applied Energy, scientists from the University of Bath evaluated the opportunities for industry to recover heat, and analysed which technologies would work best.

'A large potential was seen in opportunities for re-use on site, which is the simplest method often practiced at the moment. If you have this heat currently going into the atmosphere, and you have a demand for heat at a lower temperature elsewhere in the you can directly use it,' explains Dr Jonathan Norman of the University of Bath, lead researcher on the project.

'We also found good potential for converting heat into electricity. The advantage with this is that you don't need to re-use the heat nearby, because electricity is easily transported, and can be used for many things,' Norman says.

Although the technology to convert surplus heat to electricity already exists, it's expensive to install the equipment and the small amount of electricity generated is often seen as too small to make the cost worthwhile.

'The recovery options we identified were ones with real potential. We based these on previous studies of those industries and in some cases we spoke to industry and sectors. The heat is there and could be recovered, but the biggest barrier is the cost,' says Norman.

With industry under pressure from the government to reduce its carbon emissions, the researchers assessed what impact it could have if industries cut their surplus energy emissions into the atmosphere.

'If we supplied from the heat surplus, it wouldn't have to be generated by a fossil fuel, and if it was used locally then it wouldn't place more pressure on the emission-intensive national grid. Overall, through a combination of technologies, we think recycling heat would save about 2.2 mega tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year. In comparison, onshore wind generation in the UK saved about 3.5 Mt of CO2 equivalent in 2010, compared to the average emissions of the national grid' Norman explains.

While surplus heat could be better utilised, Norman believes that improving the efficiency of the current processes used to generate heat is also possible.

'It's important to not just consider the potential for heat recovery but also the potential for improving efficiency on a larger basis, if processes were made more efficient the heat available might decrease and in some cases that would be preferred,' Norman concludes. 'In some cases there might be more economic methods to save CO2 than installing this recovery equipment, and in many cases more easily implemented efficiency methods could save emissions at a lower cost.'

Explore further: Using the potential of waste heat

More information: Study paper: www.sciencedirect.com/science/… ii/S030626191300901X

Provided by PlanetEarth Online search and more info website

4.6 /5 (8 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Using the potential of waste heat

Dec 09, 2013

Siemens researchers analyze how different components of the future energy system can be combined in an optimized way. In its latest issue the research magazine "Pictures of the Future" reports about the chances ...

Storage heaters as buffers for wind power

Nov 18, 2013

As reported in the latest issue of Pictures of the Future, Siemens and RWE are planning to use storage heaters to make surplus solar and wind power more usable. In the RWE Wind Heating project, the two co ...

Can we turn unwanted carbon dioxide into electricity?

Dec 12, 2013

Researchers are developing a new kind of geothermal power plant that will lock away unwanted carbon dioxide (CO2) underground—and use it as a tool to boost electric power generation by at least 10 times compared to existin ...

Recommended for you

Shedding light on solar power

15 hours ago

Everyone wants to save energy, but not everyone knows where to start. Grid Resources, a startup based out of the Centre for Urban Energy's iCUE incubator, is developing a new website that seeks to help homeowners ...

Energy transition project moves into its second phase

15 hours ago

Siemens is studying new concepts for optimizing the cost-effectiveness and technical performance of energy systems with distributed and fluctuating electricity production. The associated IRENE research project ...

Smart data increases the efficiency of wind farms

18 hours ago

Siemens monitors thousands of wind power plants around the world to operate them as efficiently as possible. The company recently opened a remote diagnostics center in Brande, Denmark, where sensor data from ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Jimee
not rated yet Mar 11, 2014
Efficiency will be the last thing to try.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.