The Need

Waste heat recovery is the process of capturing heat from waste streams of existing industrial process and using this heat directly, upgrading it to a more useful temperature, and/or converting it to electrical power or cooling. The energy generated from heat recovery, if not required by the process or industrial site can be exported to neighbouring facilities or to electrical or heat distribution networks. Waste heat recovery systems can offer significant energy savings and substantial greenhouse gas emission reductions. There is now increasing global interest in the development and application of heat recovery systems which is driven by government regulatory requirements with regards to emissions and emission reduction targets, rising concerns over the cost of energy and energy security and general environmental and sustainability considerations.

The waste heat recovery market is projected to reach $53.12 billion by 2018. Europe dominates this market and in 2012 the European market accounted for 38% of the global heat recovery equipment market. It is also expected that the Asia-Pacific region will experience the highest growth rate in the next five years of 9.7% per annum with China and India accounting for the highest number of installations of heat recovery units. For these projections to materialise, however, and for the European manufacturing and user industry to benefit from these developments, technological improvements and innovations should take place aimed at improving the energy efficiency of heat recovery equipment and reducing installed costs.

The Project

The main aim of the I-ThERM project is to investigate, design, build and demonstrate innovative plug and play waste heat recovery solutions and the optimum utilization of energy within and outside the plant perimeter for selected applications with high replicability and energy recovery potential in the temperature range 70 oC- 1000 oC.

Specific objectives of I-ThERM project include:

i) Identify and quantify streams of waste heat from industrial processes in the EU 27 and potential for energy recovery, for use within the process, the factory/site or for export/over the fence use. The objective is to be able to identify and exploit the market opportunities that will be developed through the project. This will involve Identification of the processes and industries that offer the greatest potential for heat recovery in terms of quantities of heat that can be recovered at given temperature levels.

ii) Use the ‘EINSTEIN’ toolkit to carry out energy audits in selected industrial sites and analyze the technical potential and economic viability of application of specific heat recovery technologies to these sites for demonstration purposes. The analysis will include the potential of wide replicability of these technologies if specific performance targets are achieved.

iii) Develop further the EINSTEIN’ tool-kit which was developed for fast and high quality thermal energy audits in industry, under the framework of the European (Intelligent Energy Europe – IEE) project EINSTEIN (www.iee-einstein.org) and use it for

a) the assessment of the techno-economic potential for heat recovery from specific industrial processes, factories and industrial sites, and

b) the determination of the optimum system or combinations of systems from the ones chosen for development and demonstration to maximise ‘useful’ heat recovery and the economic value and environmental benefits of recovering, transmitting or converting energy from the heat recovery process.

iv) Develop heat recovery technologies and equipment in packaged or easily customizable plug and play forms that can readily be selected and applied in industry. The equipment will include innovative two phase heat transfer technologies based on heat pipes and waste heat recovery to power conversion technologies based on:

  1. steam and

  2. CO2 working fluids

to cover a wide range of heat source temperatures and applications.

v) Develop an intelligent system for monitoring and on-line integration and control of the operation of these technologies to maximise heat recovery and minimise operating costs and emissions.

vi) Investigate and evaluate organisational, technoeconomic and socioeconomic barriers to the wide adoption of advanced heat recovery technologies and ways of overcoming these barriers.

vii) Implement, monitor and evaluate the performance of heat recovery applications, evaluate their impact on overall energy consumption and CO2 emissions and disseminate the outputs widely to industry, other key stakeholders and policy makers.

WP1: Management, Coordination IPR and Exploitation

WP1 includes all the coordination and management activities that will be carried out by I-ThERM during the project as follows:

  • Preparation of the Consortium Agreement;

  • Review of the project progress, completion of the tasks and milestones according to the Work Plan and the defined budget;

  • Management of all the contractual, legal, financial and administrative tasks;

  • Scheduling and organisation of the meetings;

  • Implementation of the communication and reporting procedures within the Consortium.

  • Monitoring aspects of gender equality, ethical and social issues in the project


WP2: Industry Waste Heat in EU27 and Demonstration Sites

Examine technology and business requirements and approaches to heat recovery.

1. Review of potential for heat recovery in the EU28. Estimate of its magnitude.

2. Perform energy audits of sites of the ‘user’ participants in the consortium using EINSTEIN in its current form.

3. Determine approximate sizing of candidate technologies

4. Quantification of benefits from energy recovery in the EU28 in general and from the application of the technologies developed in the project in particular.

5. Identify issues and barriers to the application of the proposed technologies at the demonstration sites.


WP3: Web-based Heat Recovery Monitoring and Optimising Tool

EINSTEIN is a flexible tool for the assessment of the techno-economic potential for heat recovery from specific industrial processes, factories and industrial sites that has been developed mainly in the Framework of two European projects (EINSTEIN and EINSTEIN-II). EINSTEIN supports thermal engineers (energy auditors) during the whole process of energy auditing from data acquisition, checking and evaluation of status-quo heat flows and energy demands, to the optimisation of heat recovery and heat and cooling supply systems (www.einstein-energy.net).

The main objectives of WP3 are:

i) further development of the EINSTEIN expert toolkit into a heat recovery thermoeconomic design tool with real time web-based monitoring, reporting and optimisation capability;

ii) development of detailed design and simulation models for heat pipe based heat recovery modules and the TFC and sCO2 power cycles and their integration with EINSTEIN and,

iii) the development of communication protocols and the linkage between EINSTEIN and the controls for the heat recovery/power generation technologies and demonstration site energy systems.


WP4: Develop TFC Power Generation System

Many industrial process plants such as those in the TATA group produce waste heat streams as a by-product. These streams then need to be cooled down further and depending on the content is either recycled or discharged to drain. This heat energy is then lost to atmosphere via flash steam, condensate or cooling tower. In order to make the process more sustainable and efficient, this project proposes a new and innovative heat Cycle, converting some of the heat to electrical power. This proposed cycle is termed as Tri-lateral flash cycle (TFC). With low-temperature heat sources, Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) is commonly used but it only uses a small portion of the heat available. In a typical ORC application, the heat stream is cooled down by about 10 oC. If more cooling is required (especially to meet environmental legislations), an additional cooling system is required. However with the proposed TFC cycle, the stream can be cooled down to permitted discharge or process temperatures and more than double the electrical power can be generated.

The principle objective of this Work Package is to design and develop an industrial sized prototype for application of the unit to a suitable waste stream in Tata Steel.


WP5: sCO2 Power Generation System

For medium temperature waste heat sources, ENOGIA and other companies developed several ORC solutions, some based on refrigerant fluid, some on hydrocarbons or even the Voight company using water as main working fluid. All these solutions are not yet widely available on the market because the ORC solutions have a narrow working range in terms of temperature inlet, which reduces possible applications for a given ORC unit, and are quite expensive to manufacture. Finally, efficiency of the ORC process in the small size range is quite low, ranging from a few percent up to 16% (Tri-O-Gen, 165kWel, Netherlands), a low efficiency which also reduces the reach of the technology. The key objective in WP5 is to demonstrate the technical feasibility of a small 50 kW electrical sCO2 Cycle that has superior performance in terms of efficiency and modularity to ORC and other waste heat conversion systems for medium temperature waste heat sources.

WP6: Development of Flat Heat Pipe System (FHPS)

This WP is dedicated to the development of Flat Heat pipe System, FHPS, to facilitate the waste heat recovery from hot streams/surfaces of temperatures above 500°C. The recovered heat will be utilized in the processing plant to reduce the energy bill of the manufacturing plant.

WP6 describes the development of a flat heat pipe system (FHPS), from system thermal design to production of a 200kW pilot. The corresponding WP objectives are summarized below:

Investigation of the operational environment (the ambient, the radiative and convective sources and the coolant).

Investigation and selection of suitable heat pipe shell materials.

Selection of compatible heat pipe working fluids for the developed FHPS.

Evaluation of safety parameters for developed system.

Thermal performance modelling and analysis of the system to facilitate 200 kW of waste heat recovery.

Proposal of a manufacturing viability assessment.

Thermal and mechanical design of the proposed system.

Manufacturing of the system

Experimental validation of the developed prototype

WP7: Development of a Heat Pipe based Condensing Economizer (HPCE)

This WP is dedicated to the development of a heat pipe based condensing economizer (HPCE) that will maximize the waste heat recovery by reclaiming the latent heat from the water vapor in flue gases through cooling them to a temperature below the dew point of their water vapor. The work in this WP will aim at addressing the major challenges of economical low grade heat recovery and acid corrosion on the external walls of the heat exchanging surfaces as the majority of these acids have higher dew point than the water vapor in typical exhausts. To overcome this challenge and to facilitate a prolonged life of the developed condensing economizer, the heat pipe technology to be used will be planned for multiple contingency, efficiency, no possible cross contamination between the hot and cold streams even under failure modes, and the ability of zoning the heat exchanger in a way that each condensed acid will be dealt with in its corresponding zone.

The work in this WP will involve the development of a 200 kW heat pipe based condensing economizer (HPCE), from system thermal design to production. The HPCE will be installed at a baking line of ARLUY test and demonstration. The corresponding WP objectives are summarized below:

  • Characterizing the flue gas chemical composition and thermal field throughout the HPCE.

  • Creating a zoned thermal design of the HPCE based on typical materials/working fluids for the heat pipes

  • Investigating and selecting potential new alloys for the heat pipe shell and combatable working fluids based on the thermal field and gas composition in each zone

  • Investigating suitable coating of the heat pipes, which will allow the use of more cost effective shell materials to be carried out in WP9

  • Evaluation of safety parameters for developed system

  • Proposal of a manufacturing viability assessment

  • Thermal and mechanical design of the proposed system based on the followed approach (new shell materials or coating for the heat pipes)

  • Manufacturing of the system

  • Experimental validation of the developed prototype.

WP8: System Controls and Integration

Overall, the optimal control system design approach will be based on a two-step procedure:

  • Given the systems to be controlled and optimized, as specified and realized in the previous work packages, their reduced order mathematical model will be identified;

  • A model based optimizer will then considers the synthesis of the optimal control, optimizing a performance criterion while satisfying a set of constraints that characterize the physical dynamics of the equipment.

The first pillar of WP8 is therefore is founded on tools providing on-line identification techniques to create and to validate an identified model of the overall systems. Advanced techniques for hybrid system identification will be considered, managing both discrete and continuous processes, as well as mixed (hybrid) dynamics. Moreover, self-learning mechanisms will be integrated in order to tune continuously the identified mathematical model to the real evolving system, in order to keep a consistent embedded model of the energy recovery equipment.

The second pillar of WP8 is that containing effectively the optimal control solution, based on the development of a multi-objective receding horizon based control approach, conceived to support the optimization requirements of the I-ThERM energy recovery equipment. The control problem will be set up in order to meet constraints coming from the specific working context, while optimizing a selected performance criterion (energy recovered for instance).

Overall, the conception of the project control system will be thus based on predictive techniques, with the aim to increase the robustness to the noises, improve the overall system dynamics and the performances, in terms of recovery efficiency. In order to do that, the following operative steps will be followed during WP8 tasks:

1. Characterization of the physical process governing the system;

2. Identification of the component sub-systems and characterization of inputs, outputs and control variables;

3. Experimental data monitoring and prediction models fitting in order to integrate them within the control system;

4. Development and comparison of selected advanced control techniques and algorithms;

5. Development of a simulation model to test and commission the controller;

6. Integration and testing of the controller on the real system.

WP9: Development of Coatings for Heat Exchanger

Main objective of this WP is the development of coatings for improving the properties of heat pipes developed in WP6, overcoming corrosion and stability problems and reducing the cost of maintenance. Also exhibiting high thermal conductivity as well as increased DwC associated with increased robustness and long service life. Additional objective is the control and manipulation of the coating surface properties either upon deposition or by post treatment.

Different coatings will be studied:

  • Ni-W, Ni-Mo, Ni-Cu, Ni-Cr, Ni-W-PTFE, Ni-W-SiC alloys based on electrochemical deposition

  • Ni-W, Ni-W-P, Ni-W-B alloys based on chemical coatings

  • Ni-W alloys based on electroplating coatings

  • Ni-W alloys based on chemical coatings

  • Thin ceramic coatings

  • Polymeric coatings of multiple hydrophilic / hydrophobic / superhydrophobic patterns towards enhanced drainage.

WP10: Technology Demonstration and Energy and Environmental Analysis

Successful exploitation of heat recovery technologies will to a large extend depend on demonstration of the technologies in real industrial environments. The main objective of this work package is the installation and commissioning of the technologies at the demonstration sites, monitoring and evaluation of the performance of the technologies over a period of 10 months, and reporting of the outputs for dissemination and exploitation.

Specific major objectives include:

1. Installation, commissioning, performance monitoring, and evaluation of the TFC system

2. Installation, commissioning, performance monitoring and evaluation of the sCO2 system

3. Installation, commissioning, performance monitoring and evaluation of the Flat Heat Pipe System

4. Installation, commissioning, performance monitoring and evaluation of the Condensing Economiser

5. Life Cycle energy, environmental and economic analysis of the technologies

WP11: Communication, Engagement, Dissemination

One of the important objectives of this project is to disseminate the technologies developed during the previous work packages as widely as possible. All project results will be formulated and compiled into a protectable form and all necessary patents and copyrights will be filed. Other objectives include the dissemination of the benefits of the developed technologies and knowledge beyond the consortium to potential user communities. Assess the socio-economic impact of the generated knowledge and technology. Broadcast the technology‘s potential applications into the wider community. Seek out and identify future sources of funding and create a development plan for post-project investment.

The specific objectives of WP 11 are:

  • Develop an effective communication and dissemination strategy

  • Develop the tools such as website, social media, newsletter format, etc. for effective communication and dissemination

  • Communicate and disseminate outputs throughout the lifetime of the project and beyond.

  • Promote the developed technologies and maintain a technology transfer program.

  • Ensure widespread use and awareness of the developed project‘s technology as widely as possible