TWI is working with organisations from across Europe to develop new methods of capturing and reusing some of the huge amounts of energy industry routinely loses as waste heat.
The Smartrec project, which officially launched in September, aims to develop technology capable of recovering at least 40 per cent of the waste heat lost in an industrial process. This energy will then be available for either reuse by the same process or redistribution elsewhere within an industrial park.
Analysts have estimated the amount of energy potentially recoverable from industrial waste heat in Europe alone to be as much as 140TWh each year – enough to supply all of Greater London’s electricity needs for more than three years.
The technology developed in the Smartrec project will focus on recovering medium- and high-grade heat, which accounts for anything over 100°C. The project team has identified secondary aluminium recycling and ceramic processing as two industrial processes with good potential for heat recovery, but doing so will present many challenges.
These processes are batch-based rather than continuous, producing flue gas that varies greatly in temperature, so the system will need to be capable of recovering energy from an intermittent and inconsistent source. The hot waste gas is also likely to be highly corrosive, meaning the recovery technology will have to be capable of withstanding aggressive substances.
The consortium behind Smartrec plans to create a custom heat pipe heat exchanger, using a molten salt pumping loop including a dual-media thermocline thermal storage system. Alongside the physical system they will develop a knowledge-based tool containing all relevant Smartrec parameters and information, enabling the system to be fully modelled and supporting integration with users’ existing systems.
Research for the project will be supported by a PhD studentship at the National Structural Integrity Research Centre, the postgraduate research hub embedded within TWI.
Smartrec, which is receiving funding from the EU Horizon 2020 innovation programme, is set to last for three years. It is being coordinated by UK-based company ALTEK, with the rest of the consortium alongside TWI being made up of the French Research Organisation CEA Tech, UK company Econotherm, the Spanish ITC-AICE (Instituto de Tecnología Cerámica), Italian company Spike Renewables, Greek company Innora, Norwegian company Flowphys and UK company Technovative Solutions.