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Heat recovery and heat recovery systems in industry

heat recovery unit

Imagine an industrial-sized bakery. Then imagine it is January in Northern Europe and the outside temperature is a bracing -100C. Outside it might be freezing, but inside, it might not only smell nice (fresh bread and cake aromas), but it would be nice and warm.

Nice and warm inside but outside… numbingly cold.

So, what does this have to do with heat recovery systems I hear you ask? Well, you see, the heat from the enormous bread ovens is not being fully exploited. It not only bakes the bread and cakes but it also warms the factory. The staff might even be in t-shirts. And a large part of this heat escapes into the cold outside, and never gets used.

Precious energy that could heat water for the factory or even heat the factory next door may never get used. And this is a waste. Not only could the bakers be nice and warm, but their friends in the factory next door could be too. Imagine that! It makes perfect sense.

That’s right heat can be harnessed, and heat recovery systems are the way to do this. They can heat water, heat rooms, share it, and all in an environmentally-friendly way. In a nutshell, they recover heat; they use heat recovery units and in the case of a bread oven, they sit just above the source of the heat, where they efficiently convert this energy into a usable form.

Key to how it works is the flue heat exchanger, simple but clever in equal measure. Cold water goes in and after exploiting the heat loss of the oven or Furnace, etc., hot water comes out. Similar in a sense to your home boiler. The difference however, is that no gas is burnt. And this is the beauty of the system: energy is produced from waste… heat that otherwise escapes into the atmosphere.

The beauty of this simple but high-tech system is also that it is totally scalable. This means it can be applied to anything from a 200kg bread oven to a 50-ton industrial blast furnace. And the benefit is the same… reuse of energy and avoidance of waste. The bigger the application, the bigger the environmental benefit.

The reason why flue gas heat recovery can be so beneficial is because, as it stands, we waste an awful lot of energy. Analysis shows that several industrial sectors waste around 20% of their energy. And many industries use a LOT of energy.

For example, the manufacture of silicones (found in car parts, cosmetics to bathroom sealant and so on) has a manufacturing process that involves enormous blast furnaces running at over 1800°C. But the good news is such high temperatures mean lots of reusable heat… and this can be exploited by heat recovery systems.

Aluminium and other metals like nickel and lithium (used in batteries for example) also require lots of energy to manufacture. As with silicon (the raw material for silicone production), raw materials are heated to extremely high temperatures, and once again, much of the heat escapes into the atmosphere.

Such waste spans industrial sectors and in times of increasing environmental concern, the need to avoid heat waste grows exponentially. As such, it is a resource waiting to be harnessed.

Generally, anywhere in industry where fuel is burnt, or heat is generated, waste recovery can be applied. And the volumes and applications are huge.

Heat recovery can also be applied to the automobile industry, the manufacture of foods and to various agricultural sectors. It can also be applied to the metal processing industry like metal casting, hardening, galvanizing and sintering of metal.

Heat recovery can be integrated with many different production processes. Quick and easy installation makes it possible to incorporate a heat recovery system without even influencing the production process. This is done by installing the flue heat exchanger as a by-pass system

From metal casting to industrial backing, heat will be recovered. And at all levels the benefits will be clear:

  • Economically: businesses can save money by reducing energy costs
  • Environmentally: buildings and water can be heated with waste heat
  • Performance: environmental targets will become more easily achievable

In the long run, heat recovery systems can not only save industry money, but they can also help to achieve both short-term and long-term environmental targets and help companies achieve best practice accolades. Excess energy can even be shared, so if one company has an excess another can benefit.

In fact, cooperation, sustainable thinking and maximising resources are just some of the feel-good and logical steps that heat recovery systems enable industries to take. And given that up to 95% of energy is recyclable, this represents such potential, that it is without doubt too good an opportunity to waste.

To learn more about how to harness industrial waste heat – visit the website for more info.

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