Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


RED-Heat-to-Power Report Summary

Project ID: 640667
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.3.5.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - RED-Heat-to-Power (Conversion of Low Grade Heat to Power through closed loop Reverse Electro-Dialysis)

Reporting period: 2015-05-01 to 2016-10-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Large amounts of primary energy are wasted in the form of low temperature heat that is discarded to the environment, either indirectly or through cooling facilities in industrial plants.
RED-Heat-to-Power adopts a game-changing approach that generates electricity from this low grade heat. The electricity is generated from salinity gradients using Reverse Electrodialysis (RED) in a closed-loop system, where artificial saline solutions are used as working fluids. The solutions exiting from the RED unit are then regenerated, in order to restore the original salinity gradient using low-temperature heat.

The new system will have the following characteristics, which make it ideal for contributing to the mix that will form the backbone of the future energy system.
1) Competitive electricity generation: The use of artificial solutions provides the flexibility to choose the salts and the conditions that maximise the productivity of the Reverse ElectroDialysis process, making it possible to drive costs down.
2) Exploiting widely available low-grade heat: The system can be installed practically anywhere in the world as low grade heat can come from renewable sources like solar or geothermal while most industrial sites also have waste heat availability.
3) Offering flexibility to the power system: The technology is a fully controllable source of electricity. This flexibility is a distinctive advantage over variable renewable energy, but also against conventional thermal technologies, which are not very flexible.
4) A safe and clean source of energy: The technology involves only simple circulation pumps and any noise will be minimal, while it is modular and can be housed in any kind of building raising no visual or aesthetic issues. There are very low operation and maintenance requirements.

Project Objectives:
The overall objective is to prove this revolutionary concept, develop the necessary materials, components and know-how for achieving in the lab the high performances expected and bring it to the level of a lab prototype where the integrated system generates electricity from low-grade heat at higher efficiencies and lower costs than ever achieved to date.
The specific objectives expected to be achieved within the duration of the project are listed below:
Perform fundamental research, lab experiments, modelling activities and evaluation of environmental issues and scale-up potential for creating the necessary new knowledge
Carry out advanced R&D activities to develop the materials and components for the new system
Implement and validate a process simulation tool that will allow us to optimize the system design
Evaluate and improve the system performance through tests on a lab-prototype, which will allow us to identify potential up-scaling and operational issues and validate analytical predictions of system efficiencies
Evaluate the results, analyse the economics and assess the perspectives of the technology in a quantified development roadmap
Involve target group representatives to the Advisory Board and communicate the key results to relevant policy makers, regulatory authorities, industries and the public.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The consortium explores the materials and components that maximise performance and minimise costs. At the first 18 months of the project the focus was on maximising performance of the two main processes involved (Reverse ElectroDialysis and Separation Process); the combination of the two main processes and the cost analysis is planned for the next stages of the project. A wide range of configurations, technologies and working solutions have been explored by a multidisciplinary team of scientists and engineers from the academia and the industry. After 9-months, a pre-selection was performed discarding the less promising options in order to study in more detail the options that were still deemed to be feasible. This study involved experiments that gave promising results offering proof of concept, at least when the components work independently from one another.

The modelling and simulation of the process has also started. The first results where the two main processes have been modelled show good agreement between the model and the tests. The modelling work will continue throughout the project. The preliminary simulation of the overall system has also been performed. The first results indicate that there is scope for optimisation, while the best operating point is not necessarily at the point where the components would operate optimally when not connected to each other.

In the next phase of the project, integrated experimental systems will be developed and tested. These lab-prototypes will allow us to identify potential up-scaling and operational issues and validate analytical predictions.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Beyond the state of the art
Reverse Electrodialysis has been used so far only for power production from salinity gradients generated by natural streams (e.g. river water/seawater or seawater/brine). With this project, we are applying for the first time RED in a closed-loop, thus opening a new era of the salinity gradient power technologies and reshaping the low-temperature heat prospects.
The state of the art of low-temperature separation technologies at the 60 to 100 degrees C range for the case of saline solutions is closely related to the field of seawater desalination. We will for the first time operate MED at temperatures higher than 70 degrees, which is the limit so far in desalination because of scaling. Also the option of regeneration by heating thermolytic salts at the range of 40 to 60 degrees C has been analysed before in the literature but has never been experimentally tested. Our project goes beyond the state of the art by building the first operating systems to test that option.

Replicability: The system under development is highly replicable, as it is modular and can be applied anywhere where a source of low temperature heat is available (solar, geothermal or waste heat)
Socio-economics: The system under development is expected to be safe and widely acceptable by society as it quiet, with low operation and maintenance requirements, it does not involve high pressures or high temperatures and it can be housed within most types of buildings without any special requirements.
Environment: The impact of the technology to the environment will be overall positive as it generates electricity using available heat resources and there are no additional associated emissions of carbon dioxide or any other pollutants. In addition, the use of low-temperature heat that would be otherwise wasted increases the resource efficiency of the industry.
Market Transformation and Policy: As part of the project work, the market framework will be examined in key markets to identify opportunities and barriers with regards to the transformation of waste heat to power and with regards to self-consumption. The identified barriers will be a useful input to policy makers aiming to improve the market design.
Expected impact stated in the Call Topic: The project has moved the RED Heat-to-Power technology from its initial status of TRL2 to TRL3 and will further move it to TRL4 by the end of the project. The project also contributes to increasing the understanding in several fields of science and technology, while it gives new impetus to the efficient use of the widely available low-grade heat sources.

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