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Industries worldwide generate large amounts of heat as a by-product of their manufacturing processes; most of this warmth is wasted or lost to the surroundings. A new research project - led by London South Bank University (LSBU) - aims to develop a novel way to recover this wasted heat through innovative hydrogen technologies.
The world-first three-year project will investigate new approaches to reclaim waste heat from energy-intensive industries such as metal, glass, and paper. This heat can be reused in heating and cooling systems to decarbonize or reduce carbon emissions from the manufacturing processes.
Reclaiming Waste Heat
“Waste heat recovery from industry can contribute significantly to cutting carbon emissions by decarbonising heating and cooling systems,” states Professor Yunting Ge, Professor of Building Services Engineering in the School of The Built Environment and Architecture at LSBU.
Our study will investigate new ways that industry can reuse waste heat and convert it for use in heating and cooling. About 60% of total waste heat produced in the UK by industry could potentially be reused.”
Professor Yunting Ge
Wasted heat generated from steel or iron plants often has to travel considerable distances to reach the end-users. Traditionally, the hot water in a heating network is carried via long-distance pipes, but this requires vast amounts of power and can result in large heat losses.
The new hydrogen technologies under investigation will include long-distance transport networks to transfer recovered energy to counteract these problems efficiently. They will also consider reclaiming waste heat at several grades with chemical heat pumps, which are used to store thermal energy via the reversible reaction between chemical substances, and advanced heating and cooling systems.
“We will be testing the potential of new hydrogen technology to tackle the huge environmental problems and financial costs caused by wasted heat,” says Ge. “Our research offers the chance to cut carbon emissions and pollution, cut costs for business and create new jobs.”
The project, which includes two UK academic partners, will establish and advance a decarbonized heating and cooling system using industrial waste heat frameworks from a steel plant or similar industrial sites. If successful, this test system can then be scaled up for actual operation in the steel plant and other manufacturing locations.
The new approach to decarbonizing heating and cooling will significantly benefit energy-intensive industries such as food, metal, and ceramics. Recovering waste heat using such hydrogen technologies could offer industries the chance to save massive amounts of money and energy.
Estimates suggest around 48 TWh per year – approximately 60% of total waste heat produced by industry in the UK – could be redistributed and reused in district networks.
Furthermore, hydrogen technologies offer higher cost and energy savings than renewable energies due to lower expenses related to limited heat recovery facilities and more extensive temperature ranges (from 40 °C to 1650 °C). Finally, hydrogen technologies will result in substantial reductions in carbon emissions.
This waste heat recovery project is another example of the international lead that LSBU is taking to clean our environment and create a more sustainable planet through world-first research.”
Professor Yunting Ge
Increasing the technical knowledge and increasing manufacturing abilities will improve UK manufacturing's potential in high-efficiency waste heat recovery and decarbonized heating and cooling technologies.
It will also enhance the country’s share of the expanding local and export markets for decarbonized heating and cooling components and systems, says LSBU. It will also provide more effective training and employment opportunities in the UK energy and manufacturing sectors.
References and Further Reading
LSBU (2021) World-first hydrogen waste heat research aims to cut carbon emissions and save money London South Bank University [online] https://www.lsbu.ac.uk/about-us/news/world-first-hydrogen-waste-heat-research-aims-to-cut-carbon-emissions-and-save-money Accessed 6th February 2021.
Chan et al. (2013) A review of chemical heat pumps, thermodynamic cycles and thermal energy storage technologies for low grade heat utilisation, Applied Thermal Engineering [Online] https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applthermaleng.2012.06.041 Accessed 6th February 2021.