While I was running a sales team for a product that recovered heat and converted it into electricity, I would get daily inquiries from companies that had waste heat available. Each of them wanted a heat recovery solution.
Sounds great right? It wasn’t.
Most of the inquirers didn’t know how much heat they had or what they could do with it. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but when we ran our heat analyses, there was often too little heat or too much, the temperature was too low, the operating hours were insufficient, etc. so the inquiries weren’t a fit for our solution.
Heat recovery equipment must be somewhat specific to a quantity of heat and a temperature range. We had 1 heat recovery product line, but received inquiries to use heat from a light bulb one day to heat from a 100 MW gas turbine the day after (a gas turbine of that size supplies enough power for 100,000 US homes).
Although our product wasn’t a fit for most of the inquiries, almost all of the heat sources could still apply to other heat recovery technologies (yes, you can use heat from a light bulb).
After speaking with other heat recovery solution providers, we realized they were doing the same thing. Industrials were spending too much time finding solutions. Solution providers were spending too much time fielding inquiries that weren’t a fit. This process is analogous to someone wanting to book travel from LA to London and calling individual airlines… and auto companies, taxis, and even bicycle shops to figure out how to get from A to B. There had to be a better way.
This year, I teamed up with a colleague to remedy the knowledge gap by starting a company called HeatCalc. Our goal is simple: to enable more heat recovery projects by making it easier for industrials to find the right solutions for their heat source.
HeatCalc is an online hub of useful heat recovery information and will connect a heat source owner (e.g. a cement plant) to the most relevant heat recovery solution providers based on the specifics of their heat source… all for free. The site has recent heat recovery news, project examples, guides and useful tools, such as a heat calculator that will quantify the amount of heat you have at your site.
Industrials can also request a free consultation with a member of our heat recovery staff and we provide a free heat analysis and/or advice on how to proceed. What you do from there is up to you; we are equipment and supplier agnostic, so we are not going to try to sell you anything.
Heat is an abundant source of clean energy. An estimated 20-50% of all industrial energy is lost as waste heat. This includes everything from the large flues at steel and chemical plants to the chillers and compressors that operate inside light manufacturing facilities. (USDOE)
From 1981 to 2015 the US Industrial Assessment Center performed 17,335 industrial assessments at companies across the US to identify energy saving opportunities. Of those, there were 6,300 heat recovery related recommendations. The most common one: recovering heat from an air compressor. The average payback for all the recommendations: 1.52 years. (US IAC). So heat is available almost everywhere, and it's economical to utilize it.
Heat is also a very versatile form of energy. It can warm buildings, purify water, preheat combustion air, generate electricity, generate cooling, etc. The overriding theme with all of these options is that it can save businesses money and reduce carbon footprints simultaneously.
So, whether you are a large cement plant or a steel mill, or just are running an air compressor or boiler in the back of your facility, there’s a good chance that there’s a money saving heat recovery opportunity at your site.