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New technologies for utilization of heat recovery in large industrial systems, considering the whole energy cycle from heat production to transformation, delivery and end use

Specific challenge: Heat recovery represents an important and unexplored opportunity for reducing energy use in industrial processes and in heating and cooling. Surplus heat is produced in large quantities in many industrial processes but remains largely unutilised due to various technological, market and regulatory barriers. The huge potential for utilising industrial surplus heat should be evaluated not only in the context of increased industrial efficiency, when this heat is recovered for further use in internal processes and for the space heating or cooling and warm water requirements of specific plants, but also in the context of decarbonisation and resource efficiency of the energy supply and the potential of significantly reducing primary energy consumption. Many of the potential solutions for recovering wasted energy can be replicated across several industrial sectors (e.g. food exothermic fermentations and heat dissipative technologies)  or can be made adaptable to the specificities of the various industrial sectors. However, to exploit this potential, it is critical to increase the economic competitiveness of waste heat recovery and develop ready-made practical solutions allowing its mainstreaming into normal operation practices of industrial plants. To minimize the economic costs of heat recovery, and prepare its integration into plant processes and organisation, technologies, new equipment and adaptable integration solutions should be developed and tested in real-world conditions, through research and development of prototypes and industrial procedures. Equally considered in this call are heat recovery solutions that involve the upgrading of waste heat streams to process heat streams at higher temperature levels and heat recovery solutions that involve the conversion of waste heat streams to electric of mechanical energy.

Responses to this call will include proposals for demonstrating replicable technologies to recover and use process heat adaptable to various types of industrial processes, to recover heat from material flows from industrial processes (e.g. waste streams, by-products, intermediates) or surplus heat in plant perimeters.

Scope: Research and demonstration on technologies, technical and operational approaches to recover waste heat from industrial processes, from material flows originating in industrial processes (e.g. waste streams, by-products, intermediates) or plant perimeters and to transform it into useful energy forms. Their integration will bring new and innovative solutions, systems, equipment and methodologies, organisation and operational practices and applications useful in several industrial sectors with the highest possible efficiency and quality.

To achieve this goal, a complete validation at real production conditions is preferred with demo sites where pilot systems will be tested in industrial facilities. Furthermore, the equipment developed will need to be adapted to market readiness level. Main subjects to be developed include:

  • Technical, organisational and operational solutions addressing heat recovery for process internal use, plant internal use and plant external use, including adaptable solutions for process interface;
  • Integration and optimization of the heat chain, including fuel substitution and efficient use of heat recovered from material flows originating in industrial processes (e.g. waste streams, by-products, intermediates);
  • Evaluating waste heat recovery potentials internally and externally; planning, modelling, maximising and implementing heat recovery options in the plant energy balance and locally;
  • Advanced control and operation techniques, automation and safety measures and protocols
  • Adaptable heat recovery modules for heat recovery in various process and from various sources, heat usage equipment, site and process design, operation organisations
  • Advanced co-generation and trigeneration, energy cascading
  • Evaluation of and adaptable and replicable solutions for non-technological issues  that hamper heat recovery and a larger use of heat recovered, such as process and business organisation, operation and plant design, cooperation mechanisms, contractual and financial  arrangements.

The aim is to achieve wide replicability and adaptability to the specificities in different sectors. It is expected to identify and combine the best technologies and most innovative solutions to reduce the total energy consumption and the operation costs of the plant. Methodologies and equipment will be subjected to a large validation by means of activities at demo sites. Proposals should show large replication potential.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 3 and 4 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

The activities are expected to be implemented at TRL 4-7 (please see part G of the General Annexes).

Expected impact:

Design development and demonstration of economically viable solutions and technologies allowing recovering at least 15% of process heat leading to significant savings of energy compared with current practice.

Adaptable technical, organisational and operational modules and producers to internal and external heat recovery

In parallel, perceived technical and business risks will be reduced leading to widespread uptake of the technical solutions with a high impact in several industrial sectors

The technologies developed should integrate well in the current industrial landscape ultimately leading to turn-key solutions with a pay-back time appropriate for industrial applications.

Type of action: Research & Innovation Actions