Waste heat occurs in almost all thermal and mechanical processes, and massively contributes to emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and global warming. Today, 20% to 50% of the energy in industrial and energy generation processes is lost in the form of hot exhaust gases, cooling water and heat losses from equipment and products. According to the US Department of Energy and French Agency for Environment and Energy, this corresponds to emissions of 2 800 million metric tons of CO2 every year worldwide. The iron and steel, chemical, paper, pulp and printing industries, non-metallic minerals (e.g. glass) and the food industry represent the lion's share of waste heat losses, but also the growing sector of information and communication technology (ICT) produces huge amounts of heat. Since the waste heat is released regionally, the heat island effect is around 1 to 3 C compared to the surrounding rural areas during the day, and up to 12 C at night. This negatively impacts air and water quality, and native species.
The main objective of the LIFE BipolymerEngine project is to demonstrate at an industrial prototype scale, an innovative method to convert waste heat into energy, using Poligys Bipolymer technology. This new approach has been specially designed to valorise waste heat in industrial processes, with inconstant waste heat lower than 200 C.
The specific project objectives are to: Install two prototypes at different pilot sites with a waste heat temperature below 200 C, e.g. in the chimney, in two power or industrial plants operated by project partner Uniper; Validate the energy recovery capacity of each prototype amounting to 37.5 kWh/year, saving 0.596 kg CO2 emissions per kWh, resulting in savings of approximately 22.4 tons of CO2 annually; Promote a new solution for waste heat recovery, which will increase the energy efficiency of industrial processes and reduce GHG output and air pollution from energy generated from fossil fuels; Reduce the amount of waste heat emitted into the atmosphere thereby reducing the heat island effect; Introduce an economically and technically viable alternative to the Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) for the valorisation of low temperature waste heat, eliminating the need for hazardous (toxic, carcinogenic, ozone depleting and persistent) working media and fluids. Thus, the use of fluorinated GHGs is completely eliminated; and Demonstrate the retrofit-ability and cost-effectiveness of the technology for plant operators, creating an industrial showcase, which will motivate other plant operators to adopt the technology.
The project contributes to the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe (COM(2011) 571), by targeting the transformation of industry towards a more resource-efficient mode of operation; the National Emissions Ceilings (NEC) Directive (2016/2284/EU) with the EU target of a 80-95% GHG emission reduction by 2050; and German renewable energy legislation (EEG 2017).
Expected results: Demonstration of the technology with two prototypes of an energy recovery capacity of 37.5 MWh/year each; Optimised procedures for design, installation/retrofit and maintenance of the technology to facilitate future implementations; Detailed data on performance/electricity generation, cost of ownership and carbon footprint of the entire system and per MW generated, including comparative analysis with technology alternative ORC; Implementation of broad dissemination actions involving stakeholders and the identification of potential European users of the technology; Preparation of six replications, two in plants operated by Uniper and four at new users from the chemical, steel and cement, paper, food and packaging, and energy industries, respectively; Increased employment through the generation of at least ten jobs until 2022 at Poligy in Duesseldorf, Germany. Awareness raising on industrial waste heat, the BipolymerEngine solution and the importance of waste heat recovery to meet the European energy efficiency targets; Generation of 112.5 MW of energy from currently unrecoverable waste heat, from the two prototypes running for 1.5 years each; Saving of 67.05 tons of CO2 emissions, by substituting 112.5 MW of energy generated within Germanys energy mix (49% fossil fuels) with energy generated from previously unrecovered waste heat; Elimination of 0.13 tons of ash from energy production from an energy mix of 12.9% coal; Use of currently unused 200 C waste heat, leading to a reduction of the ambient temperature, thereby reducing the heat island effect and the negative effects on wildlife and climate; 55% reduction of the carbon footprint of the entire system and 60% reduction of the carbon footprint per MW in comparison with ORC; 100% elimination of the use of toxic, carcinogenic, ozone depleting and persistent ORC working fluids; Three years after the project, solely based on the six replications already planned during the project, an additional yearly energy generation from currently unused waste heat of 787.5 MWh/year is expected.