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Optimising factory heat management

Industries can significantly enhance their energy efficiency through the effective recovery of waste heat. An easy-to-use software toolbox will enable plant managers to consider all critical points in the plant.
Optimising factory heat management

Although numerous technologies exist and are employed to varying degrees, heat recovery rarely achieves its maximum potential. A group of SMEs and scientists initiated the EU-funded project 'Intensified heat transfer technologies for enhanced heat recovery' (INTHEAT) to maximise the heat recovery of heat exchanger networks (HENs) in processing plants.

Scientists collected data on current heat exchanger trends and applications and analysed emerging heat exchanger designs. They sought to apply novel techniques for enhanced performance only at the critical parts limiting overall system performance. Better understanding of heat exchanger fouling and of the properties of new materials for heat exchange led to an innovative methodology for combining heat transfer design with process integration to reduce process plant energy consumption.

The INTHEAT toolbox for heat exchanger retrofit or new design encompasses three levels of assessment in an easy-to-use software package for plant process engineers. It uses commercial software for individual heat exchanger design, INTHEAT software for modelling the HEN with all heat exchangers and their specific parameters including those of enhanced heat recovery and, finally, commercial software for HEN screening and optimisation.

Energy integration and intensification software was tested at a refinery plant with 31 heat exchangers and 14 processing streams as well as at 3 food-processing plants with exciting results regarding consumption, emissions, operating costs and profit. By considering all energy systems and optimising overall heat recovery with a focus on critical points, the INTHEAT decision support system should have significant impact on the energy efficiency of industrial plants and thus on both EU competitiveness and global climate change.

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