A lot of energy is consumed in industry. This often generates waste heat, which is to be better utilized in the future.
As yet untapped potential for energy and resource efficiency
Whether in the chemical industry, textile processing or polymer production, a lot of energy is consumed in the process industry. Manufacturers have therefore been striving for a long time to optimize their processes and reduce consumption as much as possible.
With success: In contrast to other sectors, the chemical industry, for example, has been able to significantly reduce its specific primary energy consumption. The energy efficiency of the production of steel, glass, non-ferrous metals and chemicals, for example, has been increasing for decades.
Efficient pumps offer leverage for consumption reduction
One reason is the advance in process technology. Another is that plant components are becoming more efficient. Pumps, which have to be used in almost every process, offer several levers for this:
- the right dimensioning
- high efficiencies
- Motors with high energy efficiency
- Control with frequency converter
However, operators who attach importance to reducing their energy consumption have often already exhausted these possibilities. Other ideas are therefore increasingly coming into focus. One promising approach is not only to use less energy, but also to reuse the energy generated by waste heat.
The reason for this is that manufacturing processes in energy-intensive industries such as the chemical industry or the automotive supply industry generate a lot of waste heat that can be used thermally. The key to this is intelligent systems that transparently allocate waste heat and electricity efficiencies to the processes they affect.
Additional use of waste heat offers further potential
A project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) is looking at this new approach for industrial companies. "Intelligent economic and ecological resource efficiency control by means of a digital process passport" is the name of the project, which is to develop an energy monitoring and management system at Trier University of Applied Sciences for the needs-based allocation of resources.
The goal is to create an IT system that can be used across all industries. With a so-called digital process passport, it could enable operators to transparently allocate resource consumption and waste heat and electricity efficiency to individual processes.
Returning waste heat and making the best possible use of it
In the view of those involved in the project, this can increase resource efficiencies by identifying ways to recycle waste heat and use it as efficiently as possible. So far, such use of waste heat has played only a minor role in the energy transition and the transformation of industrial energy supply, they say.
Manufacturers in energy-intensive industries may soon have another option for sustainably reducing their energy consumption. Ultimately, therefore, the project could prove useful in several ways: If energy is used better, consumers can reduce their costs and at the same time further reduce the impact of their production on the environment and climate.
Picture: Loic Manegarium, Pexels