Heat recovery from production processes

Heat recovery from production processes
© PhotoAlto, image #132706667, 2017, source:
Energy, Carbon
All manufacturing industries
High cost
Annual saving:
25 - 45 %
Payback time:
1 - 4.5 Year(s)
Resource savings: Energy:
up to 45% increase in energy efficiency
Payback time:
Depending on the facility size, scale and setup, the heat recovery technologies have shown to pay back within 1 - 2 years as showed in textile , 2-3 years in food and 3-4,5 years in chemical industries
Total cost savings:
Energy consumption amounts up to 20% of the life cycle costs at machine tools. Heat recovery can save up to 45 % of energy consumption.
Premises and operation areas:
Office building, Production building
Size of company:
Micro (less than 10), Small (less than 50), Medium (less than 250), Large (more than 250)
Advancement in applying resource efficiency measures:
Intermediate, Advanced
One off investment:
2000 - 75000€
What is in it for you:
Reduced dependency on purchased energy, cost savings, increased energy efficiency, improved CSR
Descriptive information:

Even in workplaces which have already introduced energy saving measures, there is still one untapped source… waste heat.

Industrial or thermal processes produce heat that is all-too-often released into the atmosphere, adding to greenhouse gases. That heat can be recovered and used in various ways.

Not all waste heat streams are economically/technically feasible to recover. An expert or in-house analysis of energy flows can determine what is possible.

Despite the potential savings and benefits, very few waste heat recovery projects are implemented in practice. Complexity, lack of end-users, technical constraints (e.g. set up during downtime periods), extended payback periods, lack of visibility of industrial activities are some of the underlying reasons for the low take-up. 

Technologies for heat recovery include:

  • Converting low-temperature heat into electrical energy using the organic rankine cycle, or ORC, process
  • Using waste heat to run refrigeration systems
  • Supplying waste heat to remote or local heating networks

Waste heat can be recovered, for example, via the following production processes and locations:

  • Ventilation and refrigeration systems
  • Water processing and cooling, food and drinks processing, etc.
  • Compressed air systems
  • Flue or processed gases
  • Heat pumps

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