Gas has three times lower efficiency and emits 10 times more CO2 compare to industrial heat pumps

The better alternative to cheap gas

Did you know that industrial heat pumps have three times higher efficiency and emit 10 times less CO2 than natural gas? In this blog post, Mattias argues there are no good reasons for industries to continue using gas and other fossil fuels to the extent they do today.

The majority, or three-quarters, of all heat used in industrial production today comes from fossil fuels. We at Viking Heat Engines believes this figure is way too high and can easily be reduced by installing heat pumps that take surplus heat found on site and boost it up to the required temperatures.

However, this CO2-friendly method is meeting tough competition from natural gas. Natural gas is cheap and seen as a transition fuel. That said, if you compare it to industrial heat pumps, such as our HeatBooster, it has at least three times lower efficiency and emits 10 times more CO2*. With that in mind, there are really no good reasons for industries to continue using gas and other fossil fuels to the extent they do today.

Reuse your heat. It makes economic sense

Luckily for us, there are companies and industries out there that want to lead the way in the transition to a low-carbon future, not only from an environmental perspective but also because it makes economic sense. Among them is the manufacturing industry.

The most energy-intensive and widespread processes in industrial manufacturing are drying and dehydration. It’s estimated that 10 to 25 per cent of the national industrial energy consumption in developed countries goes toward these processes alone.

From brick to paper

Drying bricks means reducing the moisture content from 30 to less than 5 per cent. This summer, we will install eight compressors (a compressor is the heart of our heat pump system) at a customer site belonging to a major brick manufacturer. The installation is part of a EUR 6-million EU-research project led by the Austrian Institute of Technology and is expected to generate annual energy savings of 6,000 MWh and stop 1,489 tons of CO2 from being emitted into the air, equivalent to taking 980 cars off the road. Brick drying will be up to 75 per cent more efficient and, when fully implemented, reduce the cost per kg brick by up to 15 per cent.

Drying painted vehicle parts is another energy intensive process that could benefit from industrial heat pumps. The automotive industry is very dedicated to improving its energy use and keen to replace its gas boilers with greener alternatives. By installing the HeatBooster, the automotive industry can save up to 10 per cent of their energy costs.

Another sector that stands to benefit from implementing heat pumps is the pulp and paper industry. The industry in Europe spends more than 10 per cent of its manufacturing costs on fuel, where most of the energy goes towards drying. By implementing the HeatBooster, the industry can increase its energy efficiency by 25 per cent, effectively shaving off 1/3 of its energy use.

Perfectly suited for the food industry

Milk powder is very energy intensive to produce and involves the evaporation of moisture from pasteurized milk into a powder containing less than five per cent moisture. This process involves two steps, culminating in the high-temperature process known as spray drying. Producing milk powder could benefit significantly from the HeatBooster since the heat used in the process typically comes from gas burners. The spray drying process requires output temperatures of 160 to 230°C. A HeatBooster would instead reuse the exhaust air from about 65°C and heat it up to 160°C in a one-or two-step process. By minimizing or completely removing gas burners from the drying process, the milk industry could save hundreds of tons of CO2 per production site.

Other industries in the food sector that see the benefit of installing heat pumps are the sugar production industry and breweries. The latter want to use industrial heat pumps for washing of reusable bottles, sterilization of kegs and pasteurization of the final product.

Gas is out. HeatBooster is in

The list of possible applications is endless, and the chance to make a real difference is great. The HeatBooster system can minimize energy use across the entire manufacturing industry, from paper, steal and plastics to milk, beer and chocolate. Ultimately, we want to challenge the belief that natural gas is irreplaceable, which would be fantastic since leakage often makes gas dirtier than coal and gas imports are a serious national security concern to many countries. So, what do you say, isn’t it time to choose the fast track to a low-carbon society?

This blog post has been written by Mattias Nilsson, Development Engineer at Viking Heat Engines Germany. You can reach Mattias at mattias.nilsson@vikingheatengines.com.

*With a heat-to-electricity ratio (COP) of 4 and a calculation based on the average European grid with a no-carbon share of 45 per cent, the CO2 emissions from industrial heat pumps are at least 10 times lower than that of natural gas boilers.

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