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EU projects in the picture: waste heat valorisation in the process industry

Did you know that the EU finances transnational projects that contribute to more energy-efficient processes in the industry?

Since industrial waste heat can be a resource for other processes in the plant itself, for the surrounding community or industry - we know its added value is high.

That is why the European Commission gathered 10 projects that have developed technology and methods for industrial waste heat recovery, storage, upgrading and heat to power conversion in various energy-intensive sectors. Unfortunately no partners from Flanders in these selected projects.

1. The TASIO project

The TASIO project wants to develop solutions for Waste Heat Recovery Systems (WHRS) based on the Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) technology. These solutions can recover the waste heat of energetic intensive processes e.g. in the cement, glass, steelmaking and petrochemical industry and to transform it into energy. Innovative direct heat exchangers are developed together with new integrated monitoring and control systems for the addressed sectors.

2. The SusPIRE project

The SusPIRE project ended in 2019. It focused on energy recovery from residual heat streams. The technological aim was to develop highly efficient heat exchangers for energy capture & storage using New Heat Transfer Fluids (HTF) and Phase Change Materials (PCM). Business wise the project explored establishing a framework to foster the energy commercialisation of the energy surplus.

3. I-ThERM

The main aim of I-ThERM is to investigate, design, build and demonstrate innovative plug and play waste heat recovery solutions and the optimum utilization of energy. Looking at this within and outside the plant perimeter for selected applications with high replicability and energy recovery potential in the temperature range 70° C until 1000°C.

4. Indus3Es project

To address the challenge of low-value waste heat the Indus3Es project has developed a low-cost system. Absorption heat transformers (AHT) maximise heat recovery at temperatures below 150 °C. The system was installed and demonstrated in a real industrial environment, in Turkey-based petrochemical company Tüpraş. This is one of the firsts AHT deployments in Europe in the last years.

5. Smartrec

Smartrec has pioneered the design of a modular system that recovers and manages waste heat from corrosive, contaminated and intermittent exhaust streams. The system integrating thermal energy recovery and storage should be able to capture 40 % of waste heat lost in industrial processes. The focus is on medium- and high-grade heat, which accounts for temperatures exceeding 100 °C. The idea is that this energy will then be available for either reuse by the same process or redistribution elsewhere within an industrial park

6. The LOWUP project

The LOWUP project has demonstrated 3 innovative technologies that capture and reuse low-grade energy in 5 demonstration sites. The project showed that lukewarm wastewater discharged by industries and higher-temperature effluent from underground sewer networks are excellent energy sources for space heating and cooling and countless industrial processes.


For the ceramics industry project partners of DREAM pioneered the design of heat pipe as heat exchangers to recapture the energy lost from kilns and transfer it to another point in the production chain. They tested innovative material shapes and compositions that reduce heat transmission through the kiln walls. The result was a reduction of the superficial temperature of kilns by an average of 10 °C. For the first time, project partners investigated how the thermal energy (hot fumes) generated by microturbines could be directed to power the kiln or the drier. Use of microturbines makes sense in countries such as Belgium, where the cost of electricity is significantly higher than that of natural gas.


VULKANO: In the metallurgy, glass and ceramics industry the largest amounts of heat loss are from the furnace exhaust – temperatures can even reach 1 600 °C. Although this is the most practical heat to recover and reuse, energy-intensive industries barely use this high-temperature heat to their benefit mainly due to technological or economic barriers. The integration of thermal energy storage with phase change materials allows recovery and storage of waste heat from combustion gases or other surplus heat sources to preheat the air entering the furnace. Waste heat storage and recovery technology was only a part of VULKANO’s advanced retrofitting integrated solution for eco-efficient and competitive furnaces. Other innovations include refractory materials, co-firing burners, monitoring and control systems and a holistic in-house predictive tool.

9. The ETEKINA project

The ETEKINA project aims at recovering 57-70 % of the waste heat stream in energy-intensive industries. The solutions of the project partners are based on heat exchanger technology (HPHE) using heat pipes for thermal recovery. As part of the project, three HPHE prototypes are built and tested for three different production plants in the aluminium, steel and ceramics sectors. The different industrial environments produce different exhaust streams with different waste heat quantity and quality (chemical composition, different particles coming out along with the gases, temperature and pressure of the flue gases, …), and provide different processes where the recovered heat might be utilized. 

10. DryFiciency

DryFiciency is still running and addresses three sectors, namely brick, waste management and food industry. The results are however of major relevance for several other energy-intensive industries such as e.g. pulp and paper industry. The DryFiciency consortium elaborates technically and economically viable solutions for upgrading idle waste heat streams to process heat streams at higher temperature levels up to 160 °C. The key elements of the solution are three high-temperature vapour compression heat pumps: two closed loop heat pump for air drying processes and one open loop heat pump for steam drying processes. The DryFiciency solution will be demonstrated under real production conditions in the 3 sectors.


Read the summary of the report:

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