March 16, 2021

Heat recovery should be harnessed as a driver for reducing industrial emissions

There is a huge potential for savings in industrial heat recovery. If wasted heat were recovered and re-used, both money and the environment would be saved. Particularly large savings could be made in Food & Beverage industries, Pulp and Paper industries, Metal industry and Chemical industry. These sectors need a large amount of energy to run their processes, and heat recovery is not yet very common.

In heat recovery, either wasted heat can be recovered or its generation in processes can be reduced. The aim is to close the energy cycle, i.e. to use energy several times and thereby achieve material and cost efficiency. Heat recovery is also encouraged by the pressure to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

In the future, industry will also need to reduce the energy produced by combustion. Electrification is not always the best option for replacing fossil fuels, as its efficiency may not be good enough, or electricity may not be technically suitable solution. Heat recovery can reduce the need of energy in many instances and be the best option.

“We always start from the premise that the customer must achieve savings compared to the current solution with regard to heat recovery. On the other hand, many companies have ambitious sustainability goals and a strong desire to reduce emissions. Efficient heat recovery is one way to achieve the goals,” says Pasi Kolehmainen, Adven’s Concept Manager.

Kolehmainen is a specialist in heat pumps and works in Adven’s concept development team, which specialises in Energy solutions. Concept developers design customised energy and water solutions for customers.

“We seek to understand the customer’s processes and consider various solutions to find a balance. We do not want to create a situation in which energy consumption is reduced in one part of the process and additional energy needs are created in another. Finding the right solution requires several rounds of development,” says Adven’s Head of Processing Solutions, Antti Tuominen.

“Adven is not bound to a particular technology, so part of our expertise is to become familiar with constantly evolving technology and new options for industrial heat recovery,” Kolehmainen adds.

All industries have potential for energy savings

On the EU level, the potential for heat recovery alone is, in many industries, well over 10%. This may sound minimal, but the amount of energy needed by industry is significant, and 10% reduction in energy production from fossil fuels, for instance, would lead to remarkable reductions in CO2 emissions.

For instance, Terrafame and Adven are collaborating to reduce the annual CO2 emissions of Terrafame’s heat production by more than 90 per cent. This reduction will be achieved by means of a new energy plant, recovery of excess energy, and investments in the district heating network in the mining area. Read more about the collaboration with Terrafame.

Source: Preliminary assessment of waste heat potential in major European industries. Panayiotou G P, Bianchi G, Georgiou G, Aresti , Argyrou M, Agathokleous R, Tsamos K M, Tassou S A, Florides G, Kalogirou S, Christodoulides P. 2017, Energy Procedia, vol. 123, ss. 335–345.

Above all, a holistic approach to energy efficiency and savings requires trust and transparency from the customer. Project planning can vary from a few months to a year, depending on the complexity of the project.

“We design solutions and produce energy as a service. Unlike equipment purchases, our services are guaranteed for the entire contractual period, not for instance only for the time the equipment is under warranty,“ Tuominen points out.

“We are also flexible and prepared to produce energy on our plants in accordance with the customer’s changing needs,” says Kolehmainen.

There may not always be a need for all the recovered waste heat at the customer’s own factory. For instance, the excess heat from the production of Yara’s Siilinjärvi plants will be transferred to the district heating network in the Siilinjärvi urban area.

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