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Technology guide

Heat recovery
A guide to key systems and applications


Introduction 3 Heat recovery applications:

Check the heat recovery application ventilation 29
charts for your type of heat recovery Balancing the increased need for
ventilation with energy savings measures
Heat recovery: the basics 8
How to identify waste heat, discover Heat recovery applications:
where it is coming from and measure its use industrial processes 42
An initial guide to identifying waste
transfer techniques
Heat recovery applications:
boilers 12
Next steps 55
Types of boilers, how they work and how
How to take your heat recovery plans further
you can capture wasted energy

Heat recovery applications:

refrigeration 22
How to rearrange your refrigeration
circuits to recover lost heat
Technology guide 3

This guide can provide you with an appreciation of heat recovery and how it can
be applied to the various systems and processes carried out in your building.

This guide is intended for anyone who has How to use this guide The application of heat
responsibility for the efficient and cost-effective
operation of buildings, or those who use an
This guide will help you understand the recovery techniques
basic principles of heat recovery as well
industrial process where heat might be
as some of the common terminology.
can significantly reduce
unnecessarily wasted.
The main part of this guide is divided into
energy consumption, running
The application of heat recovery techniques
can significantly reduce energy consumption,
sections which reflect the key applications costs and carbon emissions
for heat recovery in buildings.
running costs and carbon emissions. These
techniques can be applied in isolation, but You‘ll find some useful tables on the next few
would be better as part of an overall strategy pages to help you decide which types of heat
to reduce energy, cost and carbon. recovery application might be of interest to you.
It may also be useful for you to complete the
heat recovery checklist alongside this guide so
that you can focus on the areas that are most
specific to you.

Technology guide 4

Heat recovery application chart by building type

Use this chart to determine which technologies and applications are most applicable to you,
either by the type of building you have or the systems you have installed.

Building type Waste heat source and applications for heat recovery

Systems installed Boilers (steam or hot Refrigeration Ventilation systems Industrial

Menu water) (cooling plant) processes

recovery using a
High-grade heat

Low-grade heat

Run around coil


Thermal wheel
combustion air

the condenser
recovery from
Blowdown on

exchanger or
steam boilers


Heat pumps

Heat pipes


Plate heat


Page 14 17 19 25 27 32 34 38 35 39 45 50

Airport ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆

Courts ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆

Food and drink ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆

Distribution – warehouses ◆ ◆ ◆

Dwellings ◆

Education ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆

Emergency services ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆

Hospital/healthcare ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆
Hospitality – hotel ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆
Technology guide 5

Building type Waste heat source and applications for heat recovery

Systems installed Boilers (steam or hot Refrigeration Ventilation systems Industrial

water) (cooling plant) processes

recovery using a
High-grade heat

Low-grade heat

Run around coil


Thermal wheel
combustion air

the condenser
recovery from
Blowdown on

exchanger or
steam boilers


Heat pumps

Heat pipes


Plate heat


Page 14 17 19 25 27 32 34 38 35 39 45 50

Hospitality – catering ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆

Industrial manufacturing ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆

Laboratory ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆

Laundry ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆

Sport and leisure ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆

Library/museum ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆

Office ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆

Pharmaceutical ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆

Retail ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆

Swimming pool ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆

Textiles ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆
Waste ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆
Technology guide 6

Heat recovery application chart by process type

Use this chart to inform discussions about which technologies and applications might be appropriate
to you, either by the type of processes you undertake or the systems you have installed.

Processes on the site Potential heat recovery approaches

Potential heat recovery approaches

from condensers

Gas (or vapour)

Direct ducting

Heat captured
-to-liquid heat

Heat recovery
during phase
Use of steam


of hot air


Boilers used for space heating 15 & 17 ◆ ◆

Boilers used for domestic water heating 15 & 17 ◆ ◆

Cold rooms 25 & 27 ◆ ◆

Chilled water systems 25 & 27 ◆ ◆

Space or process refrigeration 25 & 27 ◆ ◆

Supply and extract ventilation systems 32 & 51 ◆

Air compressors 45 ◆ ◆

Distillation processes 45 ◆

Drying processes 45 ◆ ◆
Technology guide 7

Processes on the site Potential heat recovery approaches

Potential heat recovery approaches

from condensers

Gas (or vapour)

Direct ducting

Heat captured
-to-liquid heat

Heat recovery
during phase
Use of steam


of hot air


Menu Dyeing and finishing processes 46 ◆

Evaporation to create concentrates 47 ◆ ◆

Systems creating mechanical energy 47 ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆

Industrial scale ovens for food processing 48 ◆ ◆

Dairy pasteurisation and sterilisation 49 ◆

Cooling of primary processes 49 ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆

Large-scale laundering or other washing 49 ◆ ◆

Use of furnaces 50 ◆ ◆ ◆

Technology guide 8

Heat recovery: the basics

Heat recovery is a method of reducing the overall energy consumption of your site
and therefore reducing the running costs. Recovered heat can help you reduce energy
consumption or provide useful heat for other purposes.
Definition of heat recovery Glossary HVAC Heating, ventilation and air conditioning
systems as found in buildings.
Heat recovery in the context of buildings and Air handling unit or AHU A mechanical
their services can be defined as the collection device typically used to supply or extract Latent heat The heat released or absorbed by
and re-use of heat arising from a process that air from a space within a building. a substance during a change of state (or phase)
would otherwise be lost. that occurs without a change in temperature.
CHP A combined heat and power machine
In most processes, some of the energy used will where waste heat from the process of Liquid One of the three basic states of matter.
be lost as heat. Sometimes, the loss of this heat generating electricity is used for some other The density of a liquid is relatively stable and
is intentional, such as in air conditioning, where purpose (such as raising steam) within the is close to that of a solid and much higher than
the purpose of the system in cooling mode is same machine. a gas. Due to its closeness in density to solids,
to remove heat from a space. In other instances, both are known as condensed matter.
Fluid Any substance in either a liquid or
the loss is either incidental, such as the heat lost
gas state. LPG A fossil fuel – liquid petroleum gas.
by a compressed air system, or accidental, such
as heat lost through the fabric of the building. Heat recovery The collection and re-use of heat LTHW Low-temperature hot water.
from a process that would otherwise be lost.
Most buildings using energy for heating, cooling, MTHW Medium-temperature hot water.
ventilation or any sort of industrial process have Heat sink A process where waste heat from
Phase or state change Where a substance
the potential to benefit from the application of a heat source can be usefully put to work.
changes from a solid to a liquid or a liquid to a
heat recovery devices and systems.
Heat source The place or the environment gas (or vice versa) usually through the application
from where heat is obtained. or withdrawal of heat and/or pressure.
Technology guide 9

Recuperator A device for waste heat recovery The basic concept of Air in the office will continue to heat up due to
that works by counter-flowing hot gases and heat recovery the warming effects of the people in the space
cold air through a heat exchanger. as well as the equipment being used (such as
Without heat recovery computers, photocopiers or printers). The levels
Regenerator A cyclic heat storage device
of carbon dioxide will also increase as people
which continuously stores and releases energy. In this example building without heat recovery,
breathe the air.
energy is used to heat incoming air which would
Sensible heat The energy exchanged during
otherwise be too cold to supply directly to an The hot, stale air is removed from the space by
a process that has as its sole effect a change
office. The heat is typically supplied by the boiler an extract ventilation system, which discharges
Menu of temperature.
via a heating coil in the air handling unit. it directly outside along with the heat it contains.
Vapour or gas One of the three basic states
of matter. Gases fill the entire volume of
Figure 1 Typical office ventilation system without heat recovery
wherever they are contained and, like liquids,
have the ability to flow. Both liquids and gases

are therefore known as fluid matter.

Waste heat Heat which is a by-product of

a process or operation which is not captured
or recovered and is therefore not re-used in
a secondary system.
Cool air in

Heat added to
incoming air

Hot air out
(heat wasted)
Technology guide 10

With heat recovery heat needs to be added by the boiler before The recovery efficiency
the air is supplied to the space.
In our example building a cross flow heat of this type of system
exchanger has been added to the system. The recovery efficiency of this type of system
When the cool fresh air is drawn into the is typically between 55% and 65%. Some heat
is typically between
system it passes over a series of pipes which recovery devices can be much more efficient 55% and 65%
contain the hot outgoing exhaust air. Some of depending on the temperature and nature of
the heat from the exhaust air is transferred to the waste heat.
the cool incoming air, which means that less

Figure 2 Typical office ventilation system with a plate heat exchanger added for heat recovery

Heat recovered
from exhaust air

Warm air out
(less heat

Less heat added

to incoming air

Cool air in

Technology guide 11

Sources of waste heat Uses for recovered heat

You’re likely to have sources of ‘waste’ heat The most cost-effective use of waste heat
in your building, for example, from the heating is to improve the energy efficiency of the heat
or ventilation systems in an office, or the generating process itself. Common uses
industrial drying process or compressed air (or ‘sinks’) for recovered heat include:
system in a factory.
• pre-heating of combustion air for boilers,
The following common sources of waste heat ovens, furnaces, and so on
Menu often present opportunities for cost-effective
• preheating fresh air used to ventilate the
heat recovery:
• ventilation system extracts
• hot water generation, including pre-heating
• boiler flue gases of boiler feed water

• boiler blowdown • space heating

• air compressors • drying

• refrigeration plant • other industrial process heating/pre-heating

• high-temperature exhaust gas streams • power generation.

from furnaces, kilns, ovens and dryers

• hot liquid effluents

• power generation plant

• process plant cooling systems.

Technology guide 12

Heat recovery applications: boilers

A boiler is a device that converts the chemical energy of a fuel into a useful heat output,
such as steam or hot water.

Principles of operation The shell type, where the hot combustion gases Where is heat wasted?
pass down a tube and into subsequent bundles
In the UK, the most common fuel for boilers is The operational efficiency of a boiler is
of tubes immersed below water level where heat
natural gas. However, where there is no mains measured by the percentage of the fuel input
is transferred. Most steam and hot water boilers
gas network, or the network infrastructure is energy that is eventually delivered as useful
in the UK are derivatives of the shell type, which
poor, oil, LPG and, in some cases, coal-fired heat output. Not all of the heat released when
are also referred to as ‘fire tubes’.
boilers are used. There is also a relatively small the fuel is combusted can be used; some
number of biofuel-fired (biomass, biogas, and The water tube type, where the water is potential heat is never released due to
so on) boilers in operation where there is good contained in tubes and the hot combustion gases incomplete combustion and some is lost.
availability of fuel, and these continue to pass around them to transfer heat to the water.
Major sources of heat loss from steam boilers
increase in popularity.
In either case, the heat must transfer across are through the flue gas, blowdown and radiation
Inside a boiler, the fuel is combusted by flames the surface of the tubes containing the water to the boiler’s surroundings. For a shell type
from burners. The resulting hot combustion or combustion gases. After use, the combustion steam boiler the losses are:
gases transfer heat to water, which is fed into gases exit the boiler via a chimney known
• Flue losses ~18%
the boiler from an external source. as a flue.
• Heat transfer gas and water side losses ~2%
There are many different types of boiler design The output steam or hot water will be fed out
and construction, but all boilers are derivatives of the boiler into a distribution system. This is • Insulated chamber radiation losses ~2%
of two main types: a network of insulated pipes that transfer the
• Water outlet blowdown losses ~3%
help steam or hot water to where it is used.
Technology guide 13

This makes total losses of around 25%.

Condensing boilers Tips for implementation
The heat recovery options which follow
can be used to reduce these total losses.
Condensing boilers are highly efficient Installing boiler heat recovery systems
because they already have a form of heat is a good way to reduce energy costs
Where heat recovery is recovery built in. By capturing a large and carbon emissions. However, there
appropriate proportion of the heat from hot flue are a few things you should look at before
gases, they significantly reduce the you implement heat recovery. A qualified
Boiler flue economisers are available for boiler
amount of wasted heat. engineer will talk you through these
Menu outputs as low as 100 kilowatts (kW) and in
issues, but they will include:
some cases even less. However, for boilers with This means that adding heat recovery
an output rating of less than 150-200kW (the directly to a condensing boiler may not Controls Make sure the boiler controls are
typical maximum size of packaged wall-hung be possible. However, it is likely that there set correctly. Running the boiler when it
boilers) replacement with a fully condensing are other opportunities for heat recovery isn‘t needed or heating to overly high
boiler should be considered before retro-fitting elsewhere in the system. temperatures are common problems
a boiler flue economiser. leading to inefficiency.

Insulate Make sure the boiler, pipework

Further references
and any storage vessels are properly
Low temperature hot water boilers insulated as this can be a major source
technology overview (CTV008) of wasted heat.

Steam and high temperature hot water Maintain Ensure you have a regular
boilers technology overview (CTV018) and thorough maintenance programme.
If your equipment is running optimally
How to implement blowdown heat recovery
this will always help increase efficiency.
Other energy saving techniques, such as
the use of variable speed pumps, should
also be investigated alongside heat
help recovery techniques.
Technology guide 14

Figure 3 Boiler classification by temperature

Heat recovery applications
Type Temp °C Note
Boiler flue economiser Page 14
Steam boiler >100 Water heated and allowed to vaporise
Pre-heat combustion air using flue
into steam
gas heat or boiler house heat Page 17
High-temperature hot water >90 but <140 Water heated, pressurised and maintained
Steam boiler blowdown Page 19
(HTHW) in liquid state

Menu Low-temperature hot water <90 Water heated and circulated at less than 90°C

Boiler flue economisers After the hot flue gas has passed through the Non-condensing boiler
boiler it contains energy which can be used Gas-to-water heat exchange to pre-heat boiler
Boiler flue economisers are a tried and tested
to improve efficiency. To achieve this, the flue feed water to a steam boiler or to provide hot
technology for recovering heat from flue gases.
gas is passed through an economiser to capture water for other heating purposes.
You can normally retro-fit an economiser to
some of the heat. The captured heat can be
most steam and high-temperature hot water Condensing boiler
used in different ways to increase the efficiency
boilers, and there are also opportunities to fit Gas-to-water heat exchange to pre-heat the
of the boiler. The main applications are:
economisers to conventional, non-condensing return water to a low temperature hot water
heating boilers. heating boiler.

Non-condensing boiler
Gas-to-air heat exchange to pre-heat the
combustion air to a steam or hot water boiler.

Economisers are generally more financially

viable when fitted to gas-fired boiler plant.

Technology guide 15

Non-condensing gas-to-water excess of 100°C are possible – see page 20 for Condensing gas-to-water
economiser some key tips on implementing heat recovery economiser
on steam boilers.

Figure 4 Non-condensing gas-to-water The boiler water level controls should be of Figure 5 Condensing gas-to-water
economiser fitted to boiler flue the ‘modulating’ type (ie not ‘on/off’) to ensure economiser fitted to boiler flue
a continuous flow of feed water through the
Heating Flue
Flue heat exchanger. flow gases
Menu Steam
High-temperature hot water boilers
Economiser Economiser
Where an economiser is fitted to the flue of
a high-temperature hot water boiler, the water Heating
circulated through the economiser can be used Fuel
Steam for alternative heating purposes local to the Condense
boiler Boiler Heating
Fuel feed boiler house such as space heating, domestic
water hot water heating or pre-heating heavy fuel oil.
In this type of economiser, the return water
from the heating system is pumped through
Steam boilers the heat exchanger tubes where it absorbs heat
In steam boilers, the economiser is normally from the hot flue gases before being pumped
Increase the net thermal efficiency
a water jacket fitted around the flue stack. into the boiler, as shown in Figure 5. Less
of your boiler by up to 5% by using
The relatively cool boiler feed water is pumped energy is therefore required to heat the outgoing
a non-condensing gas-to-water
through the heat exchanger tubes, where it flow from the boiler.
economiser or by up to 15% by using
absorbs heat from the hot flue gas before being
a condensing gas-to-water economiser.
pumped into the boiler (see Figure 4). Less
energy is therefore required to raise the steam.
As the economiser is on the high-pressure side
of the feed pump, feed water temperatures in
Technology guide 16

Tips for implementation

Case study
from the heating circuit is cool enough to
A drinks manufacturer
Consider these issues carefully when
implementing boiler flue economisers: gain the maximum benefit. For correct
A global drinks manufacturer saved
operation in hot water boilers this should
• Ensure your economiser is the correct 4.1% on gas consumption due to installing
be less than 50°C; for steam boilers this
size. It is important to ensure that the flue a flue economiser when they upgraded
will be closer to 90°C.
gases are not condensed (changed from to a new steam boiler. The economiser
Menu gas to liquid) and that the feed water does • The condensing type economiser is cost was 10.5% of the overall new budget
not boil in the exchanger. normally installed at floor level, near and achieves payback in a little over
to the boiler flue outlet. Therefore, you two years.
• If you are installing an economiser which
should consider how much floor space
is designed to condense flue gases, you
you will require in the boiler housing.
should ensure that the water returning

Investment and payback

In an office with an annual energy spend If you’re replacing a boiler, consider buying
on gas of around £15,000, an investment a condensing model as this already
of £6,000 to £8,000 to retro-fit a boiler flue contains economiser technology, and the
economiser could see a payback in four extra capital cost will pay back far more
to five years. quickly than retrofitting.

Technology guide 17

Pre-heating boiler combustion air The usual heat sources for heating combustion Boiler flue economiser
air are:
Boiler efficiencies can be improved by Ambient outside air is drawn through the boiler
pre-heating the combustion air to the burner. • heat remaining in the flue gases flue economiser and ducted to the burner air
You can do this by using a flue economiser or input. The burner-forced draught fan must be
• higher temperature air drawn from the
by making use of the warmer air from the top capable of overcoming the additional back
top of the boiler house
of the boiler house or around the boiler shell. pressure of the air ducting.
• heat recovered by drawing air over or through
In most boiler installations, the air required as
the boiler casing to reduce shell losses.
Menu part of the combustion process is generally
Figure 6 Boiler flue economiser used
taken from within the boiler room. In the case
Energy saving potential of preheating to pre-heat boiler combustion air
of a forced draught burner this is assisted by
combustion air Flue
a fan, but in a natural draught burner there is gases
no assistance. This incoming combustion air Boiler efficiency can be increased by 1% by
is at boiler room temperature, which is cooler raising the combustion air temperature by
than boiler operating temperature. 20ºC, although the savings achieved will
depend on the type of system installed.
Boiler efficiency can be improved by pre-heating
the incoming combustion air up to boiler
operating temperature. This reduces the amount Benefits
of boiler energy that becomes transferred to
Burner Boiler
the combustion air as it enters the system, You can increase boiler efficiency by
Outside air
and, as a result, provides a higher flame 1% by raising the combustion air Condense
temperature from the burner. temperature by 20ºC. Ducting hot air Economiser
down from the top of the boiler house
into the boiler will typically provide
savings of up to 1%, while drawing
combustion air over or through the boiler
casing can provide savings of up to 2%.
Technology guide 18

Use warm air from boiler house

Tips for implementation
Figure 7 Warm air ducted to boiler burner
There are some key things to remember so you should ensure that there is
to pre-heat boiler combustion air
when considering increasing combustion sufficient space to allow for safe access for
Flue air temperatures. ongoing maintenance to the plant.
Most gas and oil burners can only tolerate
Using the heat remaining in the flue
a maximum increase in combustion air
gases can be expensive, so you might
Menu temperature of around 50ºC and increases
Warm air only consider using an economiser in
of more than this without changing the
this way if other uses are impractical.
burner in your boiler may cause damage.
This technique also requires a stainless-
However, there are modern burners
steel heat exchanger to be fitted in the
that can stand much higher temperatures
boiler-flue system. It is also necessary
Burner and can normally be retro-fitted to
Boiler to fit bypass dampers when firing fuel
Outside air existing boilers.
oil instead of natural gas, which will
Each of the techniques described will add to the cost of implementation and
Warm air from the top of the boiler house require additional space in the plant room increase payback times.
is ducted down to the burner air input. The
burner-forced draught fan must be capable
of overcoming the additional back pressure
of the air ducting. Investment and payback
Alternatively, air can be drawn through the
Adding simple ducting to bring hot air
boiler casing but this may involve modifications
from the top of the boiler house onto the
to the manufacturers’ casing.
burner using the existing fan in a typical
office of around 250 people could cost
as little as £1,000 and give a payback
help of around five years.
Technology guide 19

Steam boiler blowdown Figure 8 Schematic of a steam boiler blowdown heat recovery system
heat recovery
You can improve both energy and water
treatment efficiency by recovering flash steam
and residual heat from blowdown and achieve
a payback of less than five years.

When water is converted to steam in a boiler it

Menu leaves behind suspended solids and dissolved
salts, or Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). Over
time, the remaining water contains an increasing
concentration of TDS and, if left unchecked, will
eventually lead to crystallisation of the salts on
the surfaces it comes into contact with. In turn,
this will lead to the fouling of heat transfer
surfaces and a general build-up of solids in
the base of the boiler.

Controlling the quantity of TDS is an integral

part of maintaining an efficient steam boiler
system and is achieved by removing steam
with high concentrations of TDS (blowdown)
and replacing it with make-up water with lower
Image courtesy of Spirax Sarvo Ltd
TDS levels. This process reduces the TDS
content in the boiler water and the likelihood
of scaling. The blowdown process can be
controlled manually or automatically and the
regime can be intermittent or continuous, or
help a combination of both.
Technology guide 20

Before discharging the blowdown water to Recovery of flash steam

drain, it must be cooled to below 43ºC to comply Benefits
Passing blowdown water through a flash
with trade effluent consent conditions. This
vessel generates low-pressure steam. The flash
temperature reduction is achieved by diluting Heat recovery can reduce blowdown
steam that separates as the pressure is reduced
the blowdown water with cold water. energy losses by up to 50%, to give an
downstream of the boiler blowdown valve can
energy saving of 0.5% to 2.5% of heat
The main disadvantage of blowdown is that then be collected and re-used for feed tank
input in a boiler plant. Heat recovery from
typically 1% to 5% of the energy input to the heating or other uses. This system of heat
the remaining blowdown water can
boiler is lost. However, up to 80% of the heat recovery is suitable for plants with continuous
further reduce blowdown energy losses
Menu in the boiler blowdown water can be recovered. blowdown systems.
by up to 25%, providing a total energy
Implementing heat recovery saves energy by saving of 0.75% to 3.75% of heat input.
Energy saving potential from
increasing the temperature of the feed water
blowdown heat recovery
to the boiler and reducing the amount of fuel
consumed in the boiler. Blowdown heat recovery systems can
potentially be used with any steam boiler, but Heat recovery can reduce
are unlikely to be cost-effective on boilers below
1,000kW. As a guide, they work best when
blowdown energy losses
blowdown is carried out on a continuous basis, by up to 50%
rather than intermittently. Continuous blowdown
means you can install a much smaller heat
recovery system for the same benefit.

Technology guide 21

Tips for implementation Investment and payback

Before thinking about heat recovery ensure As a minimum, feed water should be Costs of implementing steam boiler heat
you have a robust TDS regime in place. raised to temperatures over 85°C to recovery can range from £6,000 to
If levels are too high, water carryover may minimise the oxygen content, but care £10,000, but in most situations would be
result due to ‘priming’ and water may enter must be taken to avoid damage to pumps expected to pay back in around two years.
the steam system, degrading the quality through cavitation. Cavitation is the
of steam produced. formation and immediate implosion of
bubbles when water is subjected to a rapid
Because there may be high levels of
change in pressure in the pump. The
TDS in the fluid passing through the heat
continuous implosion of the bubbles on
recovery equipment is it prudent to select
pump surface can cause excessive wear
equipment that can handle large quantities
and in extreme cases failure of the pump.
of contaminants to avoid fouling and
similar issues. The Combustion Engineering Association
( may be able to help you
Heat can be recovered from both the steam
find a steam boiler heat recovery specialist.
and water stream, which is released from
the system during continuous blowdown
by using a two-stage process.

Technology guide 22

Heat recovery applications: refrigeration

Refrigeration is a process where heat is moved from one location to another.

There are many applications for refrigeration, Principles of operation Where heat is wasted
most commonly to provide cooling in refrigerators,
The most common type of refrigeration system Refrigerant is circulated around the system
freezers and cold stores. Refrigeration is also
uses the vapour-compression refrigeration cycle, and is subjected to differing pressures and
commonly used for cooling and heating in air
which is sometimes referred to as a direct temperatures. At different times, the refrigerant
conditioning systems. Large central systems
expansion (DX) system. This type of system varies between vapour and liquid state,
are used to provide cooling to a number of
comprises the following essential components: depending on where it is in the cycle.
appliances or pieces of equipment in commercial
applications such as supermarkets and in • a compressor (with motor drive) The refrigerant enters the compressor as a
industrial applications. vapour where it is then compressed, which
• a condenser (heat exchanger)
increases the pressure and temperature. The
• an expansion device (usually an expansion vapour passes into the condenser, where heat
valve) is rejected and the refrigerant cools. As it
cools, it changes from a vapour to a liquid.
• an evaporator (heat exchanger).
The pressure of the refrigerant is reduced by
These components are connected together with passing through an expansion device before
pipework and arranged as indicated in Figure 9 it enters the evaporator. In the evaporator the
on the next page. refrigerant evaporates (boils) to a vapour state,
absorbing heat from the surroundings and
therefore providing cooling.
Technology guide 23

Figure 9 Refrigeration circuit – vapour compression system

Heat recovery applications
Heat evaporation
High-grade heat recovery using
a de-superheater Page 25

Low-grade heat recovery

from condensers Page 27

Expansion valve


Compressor Cooling

About 20% of the heat rejection is due to Further references

‘de-superheating’ of the refrigerant prior to
Refrigeration systems technology guide
condensation and this heat has the potential
to be recovered as ‘high-grade’ heat for other
heating purposes. This is described on page 25.

The remainder of the heat rejection from the

condenser can also be recovered and used as
‘low-grade’ heat as described on page 27.

Technology guide 24

Tips for implementation Investment and payback

There are some general tips to consider room (such as a server room or cold store) By choosing to include de-superheater
when implementing heat recovery on to units of more than 1,000kW used in large heat recovery (see page 26) on a
refrigeration systems. food storage facilities such as chilled refrigeration system in a typical
warehouses. new-build office for around 250 people
Before implementing heat recovery,
and using the recovered energy for space
you should ensure the system is operating The amount of heat that can be recovered
heating, it should be possible to reduce
Menu as efficiently as possible. This will mean from a refrigeration system will be heavily
overall gas consumption by 5% to 10%,
looking at the time when the system influenced by the temperature required for
saving around £1,000 from utility bills
operates and the pressures and use. The higher the temperature (typically
and giving paybacks in the region of
temperatures that are being provided as up to a maximum of around 65°C), the lower
two to three years.
well as ensuring there are no refrigerant the amount of heat that can be recovered.
leaks. Your contractor or engineer should Using a ‘full’ heat recovery system,
If you are considering using recovered
be able to help you with these issues. nearly 100% of the heat can be recovered,
heat for space heating, be sure to factor
but it will be at low grade (around
If you require heat at a higher temperature in the cost of any ducting in your
40°C-45°C) and therefore less versatile
than can be provided by the systems calculations as this can affect viability.
in its application.
shown in this section, you could consider
Recovered low-grade heat is most suited to
linking them with a heat pump to achieve
providing space heating, so it’s important
the temperature you need.
that there is a constant requirement for
Heat recovery can be applied to most sizes heating during the winter months to
of plant, from small units used for a single make the most of any investment.

Technology guide 25

High-grade heat recovery using • a process plant where demand for hot water is • buildings that need air conditioning and hot
a de-superheater high, such as in steam boiler water pre-heating water, such as swimming pools and hospitals.

Most refrigeration systems have the potential • food processing plants where, for example,
to incorporate heat recovery and one way you large amounts of hot water are needed for
can do this is to install a de-superheater ahead washing down
of the condenser in the circuit (see Figure 10).

Typically the heat of the refrigeration fluid, at

Menu the discharge from the compressor (commonly
known as the hot gas line), is between 60°C Figure 10 High-grade heat recovery using a de-superheater
and 90°C but can be as high as 110°C.
Out In
A refrigerant-to-water heat exchanger can be
installed in the hot gas pipeline to recover the
superheat for alternative heating purposes Heat rejection
near the refrigeration plant.

The heat exchanger provides recovered heat

for use elsewhere and also de-superheats the Condenser
refrigerant, which reduces the cooling duty of
the condenser. High-grade heat recovered Heat exchanger
from a de-superheater has wide applications,
Expansion valve
including in:


help Cooling
Technology guide 26

The same principle can be used on large central

Figure 11 De-superheater used on larger centralised system
refrigeration systems with multiple compressors
(see Figure 11).
Hot water to HVAC &
Domestic hot water The large amount of heat rejected by the
refrigeration system in a typical supermarket
offers an attractive resource for use in store
Rooftop space heating, with around 10% of rejected
Heat exchanger
Remote condenser heat being available at high grade. Much of
Menu the remaining heat could also be recovered
but as low grade.


Cooled space
Evaporator room

Chilled display cases


Technology guide 27

Low-grade heat recovery Figure 12 Low-grade heat recovery: Figure 13 Low-grade heat recovery:
from the condenser air-cooled condenser water-cooled condenser

The condenser in your cooling system rejects

heat, normally directly to atmosphere. If you
have a coincident cooling and heating demand, supply unit
you could make good use of this heat despite Cooling water to
Ducted warm air cooling tower or
it being low grade.
from heated space dry cooler Warm air supply
Air cooled to heated space
Menu Typically for refrigeration systems in the
condenser Pump
UK, the condensers will operate at ambient Ducted return air
air temperatures of between 20°C and from heated space
400°C. The heat rejected could be used Expansion
for alternative heating purposes, local to Expansion
valve Evaporator
the refrigeration plant.
Evaporator Compressor
Where air-cooled condensers are used (see
Figure 12), the simplest method of recovering Compressor Cooling
the waste heat is to use the warm air discharge
for space heating purposes. This can be
achieved either by ducting the air from the
condensers directly into the space that requires
heating or potentially physically re-locating the
condenser within the space that requires
heating providing a direct supply.

Technology guide 28

Ducting the heat from the condenser

Server rooms Benefits
will probably require the installation of a
supplementary fan and, whichever method
An increasing number of computers in In a supermarket, you could supply
is adopted, it may be necessary to provide
office spaces demands a proportional 75% to 90% of hot water demand from
bypass ducting to discharge warm air to outside,
increase in the number of servers. The heat recovered from refrigeration.
when the space heating is not required.
servers produce a significant amount of This could account for 2% to 3% of
Low-grade heat recovered from condensers can heat, which can affect their operation if the building’s total CO2 emissions.
be upgraded to a higher grade through the use left unchecked. Therefore this results in
of heat pumps and then used for applications an increasing demand for 24-hour cooling
such as space heating or pre-heating domestic in the server rooms in order to maintain
hot water. their correct operation.

Where water-cooled condensers are used (see Where refrigerant cooling is used the
Figure 13) the cooling water could, for example, resulting waste heat from the condensing
be supplied to a warm air heater coil within units could be captured and used
a ventilation system. elsewhere in the building for space or
hot water heating.

Technology guide 29

Heat recovery applications: ventilation

In modern buildings you need to balance the requirements for ventilation systems to
provide sufficient fresh air with efficient energy consumption. Heat recovery through
the ventilation system, which would otherwise be lost, can reduce energy consumption.
Principles Efficiency of heat recovery Heat recovery can potentially be applied to any
HVAC system that uses ductwork to supply
The ‘air tightness’ of spaces in buildings is The most effective way of recovering energy
and extract ventilation air. You can commonly
increasingly being targeted to improve building from ventilation and air-conditioning systems
find opportunities in:
efficiencies. is to make use of recirculated air.
• offices
This has resulted in contemporary ventilation
systems being required to deliver more fresh Where ventilation heat recovery • lecture theatres
air than before, usually to a greater occupancy can be applied
• hospital wards
and internal comfort level whilst ensuring
There are many applications of heat recovery
that energy is not being wasted and indoor • swimming pool halls
technology in ventilating and air-conditioning
air quality is at the correct levels.
systems, but they are based on a few simple • manufacturing areas.
The cost of installing a heating, ventilation techniques. The principal ones are thermal
and air conditioning (HVAC) heat recovery wheels, plate heat exchangers, heat pipes
system depends on the size and complexity and the run around system.
of installation. In an average installation,
without any huge complications and where
plant operates continuously, you could recoup
the cost within two years. For plant that runs
help for just 40 hours a week, the payback period
would be around five years.
Technology guide 30

It’s worth noting that installations in new Ventilation heat recovery –

Ventilation heat recovery
buildings where mechanical ventilation is being efficiencies
provided are almost certain to contain some
The efficiencies shown below are useful in
form of heat recovery. This is because current Thermal wheel technology Page 32
comparing the range of technologies available
building regulations demand a level of efficiency
for heat recovery in ventilation systems: Plate heat exchanger
which is very difficult to achieve without it and
(recuperator) technology Page 34
such techniques are now commonly adopted. • Plate heat exchanger: typically 55%-65%,
maximum 80% Heat pump technology Page 36
This section will be useful in informing the
debate about which sort of heat recovery to • Thermal wheel: typically 65%-75%, Run around coil (closed loop)
include in new builds and should be particularly maximum 80% technology Page 41
useful to anyone wanting to retro-fit to an
• Run around coil: typically 45%-50%, Heat pipe technology Page 40
existing system.
maximum 55%
A qualified engineer will be able to talk you
• Heat pump: typically 35%-50%,
through the various systems and advise on their
maximum 60%
specific requirements. As the efficiencies are
so similar and the costs (particularly for new • Heat pipes: typically 50%-65%,
build projects) not hugely varied, considerations maximum 75%
such as space and maintenance may be just as
important in your decision of which technology Further references
to opt for as financial performance.
How to implement heat recovery in heating,
air conditioning and ventilation systems

Air to air energy recovery: A guide to

equipment eligible for Enhanced Capital
Allowances (ECA771)

help How to implement de-stratification fans

Technology guide 31

Tips for implementation

A key consideration when installing heat When installing heat recovery in an existing • damaged damper seals
recovery in a ventilation system is to HVAC system, you need to consider the
• seized damper actuators
recognise that the introduction of the heat available space in the ductwork and
recovery equipment will cause a pressure whether your fan power is adequate. • poorly calibrated controls
drop on the supply and extract fans. Some
Ideally, supply and extract AHUs and • recommissioning of systems
fans may be able to cope, but it is essential
Menu ductwork are usually stacked on top of one after alterations.
that this is checked at design stage to
another, but there are still opportunities
ensure the overall performance of the It‘s worth noting that installations in new
for heat recovery if they are not. However,
system isn‘t compromised. buildings where mechanical ventilation is
technologies like run around coils only
being provided are almost certain to
In general, heat recovery in ventilation tend to be economical if the ducts are in
contain some form of heat recovery. This
systems can’t be easily applied to the same plant room.
is because current building regulations
contaminated air streams, such as cooker
Once installed, it‘s important that a demand a level of efficiency which is very
hoods or some industrial extraction
proper maintenance regime is undertaken. difficult to achieve without it and such
systems, because the heat exchanger
The regime should cover: techniques are now commonly adopted.
can become fouled with particulates
in the extract air stream. This is also • blocked filters This section will be useful in informing
important where either smells or the debate about which sort of heat
• dirty heat exchange surfaces
substances which may be harmful to health recovery to include in new builds and
could be present in the exhaust air stream. • dirty ductwork should be particularly useful to anyone
wanting to retro-fit to an existing system.
• blocked condensate drains

Technology guide 32

Thermal wheel A thermal wheel typically comprises a circular

wheel with a matrix or honeycomb material of
Thermal wheel technology offers you the
a large surface area through which air can pass.
greatest percentage of heat recovery within
The wheel sits with one half in the exhaust air
an air system, and therefore the greatest
stream and the other half in the supply air
reduction in energy and carbon. However, there
stream of the AHU.
are limitations due to the physical size of the unit
as well potential for cross-contamination of the As the thermal wheel rotates, energy from
air streams. Additional heat recovery can be the exhaust air stream is captured within the
advantageous, especially where there is high honeycomb structure. The heat exchanger
latent temperature in the return air. honeycomb rotates and the energy is transferred
to the fresh air stream in the other half of the
A thermal wheel, also known as a ‘rotary’ or
AHU. Supply and exhaust air streams must
‘regenerative’ heat exchanger, is a system of
Thermal wheel installed in an AHU (Image courtesy of be flowing in opposite directions to maximise
heat transfer which involves a single rotating Nuaire Ltd)
heat recovery and supply air temperature.
wheel with high thermal capacity located within
the supply and exhaust air streams of an air The rotary heat exchanger honeycomb is
handling unit (AHU). Its rotation allows the normally manufactured from aluminium, which
recovery of energy from air that would has good heat transfer properties, but it can also
otherwise be lost to the atmosphere, and be manufactured from plastic or paper material.
the energy to be used to pre-heat (or cool) The wheel is rotated by a small electric motor
the incoming fresh air. Benefits and belt drive system.

The use of this technology will reduce the

With the high efficiencies of thermal
amount of energy needed to heat (or cool) the
wheels, your investment could pay back
supply air to the required temperature with a
within two years.
corresponding reduction in carbon emissions.

Technology guide 33

Advantages and disadvantages

Investment and payback Tips for implementation
Thermal wheels are available to capture either
When specifying new ventilation ‘sensible’ or ‘total heat’ (ie sensible and latent Remember these issues if considering
equipment for an office building of heat) from the exhaust air stream and transfer a thermal wheel for your site:
2500m2, operating within normal office the captured energy into the supply air stream.
• Using a thermal wheel in an AHU leads
hours, a thermal wheel is likely to add The benefit of the total heat version is that it also
to the supply and exhaust air streams
around £7,000 to £9,000 to the capital cost captures latent heat (water vapour) and transfers
mixing to a small degree. If this isn‘t
but should pay back in around two years. this additional energy into the supply air stream
Menu acceptable, because the exhaust air is
If you were considering retro-fitting as well as sensible heat.
contaminated in some way, you can
a thermal wheel to existing equipment,
The speed of rotation will determine the amount reduce the effect by using physical
assuming you have the space and there
of energy transferred between the two air seals and purge sections within the air
are no significant complications, you
streams; however, total heat thermal wheels handling unit. However, this may not
should expect to pay more but still achieve
can achieve efficiencies of up to 85%. stop the mixing completely.
a payback in the region of three years.
The thermal wheel has to be installed in the • In addition, air entering the wheel from
AHU, so the size of the unit can be very large, either side must be filtered to prevent
especially as air flow volume increases. You the wheel becoming fouled with
The speed of rotation of the thermal wheel can should consider the space you have available, particulates in the air streams.
be controlled with a variable speed motor for as this will increase the complexity of
• You‘ll also need to ensure that good
improved control of the temperature transfer. coordination of ductwork.
access for maintenance is provided as
If no heat (or cool) transfer is required, the motor
part of the installation, and considering
can be stopped and the air flow will pass straight
the space requirements of a thermal
through the honeycomb matrix without any
wheel, this may be an important issue
transfer of energy to the other compartment.
in determining whether the project
is feasible.

Technology guide 34

Plate heat exchanger or Figure 14 Principle of operation of other, but are separated by the parallel plates,
recuperator a recuperator which allow energy to be transferred from the
exhaust air to the incoming air supply.
Recuperator technology is by far the most
common form of air-to-air heat recovery and Fresh air in extract air As the intake and exhaust air streams are
is used in a variety of air handling units with physically separated and energy is transferred
different air volumes. This technology can be through the plates, their material, thickness and
linked with additional heating and cooling coils surface area affect the transfer efficiencies of
to reduce the amount of energy required to the equipment. Manufacturers claim gross
maintain internal conditions. Cool air Warmed efficiencies between 50% and 80% depending
exhaust fresh air on the specification of the unit.
A plate heat exchanger (or recuperator) transfers
heat between the supply and exhaust streams In traditional plate heat exchangers, sensible
of an air handing unit. It recovers energy from heat (containing no moisture) will pass through
extracted air that would otherwise be lost to the plates dividing the two air streams. Newer
the atmosphere and uses it to pre-heat (or cool) plate heat exchangers, constructed from a
the incoming fresh air. Figure 14 and the image semi-permeable membrane, will allow both
below demonstrate the principle and structure sensible and latent heat to transfer between
of the heat exchanger type. the two air streams, providing a greater
energy saving.
The use of a plate heat exchanger reduces the
amount of energy needed to heat (or cool) the
supply air to the required temperature with a Benefits
corresponding reduction in carbon emissions.
A 70% efficient plate heat exchanger in
A plate heat exchanger is typically comprised
a typical office could save you 38% of
of a series of parallel plates of aluminium, plastic,
your total gas consumption.
stainless steel or synthetic fibre, which direct the
intake (supply) air and exhaust (return) air. The A plate heat exchanger within an AHU
(Image courtesy of Nuaire Ltd)
supply and extract air streams cross over each
Technology guide 35

Advantages and disadvantages

Tips for implementation
If heat recovery through the plate heat
exchanger is not required, for example in
Since the two streams are physically controlled to ensure that the air flow is
summer conditions, and the exhaust air is at
separated from each other there is a low above 0°C. Water freezing on the plates
a higher temperature than the incoming supply
risk of contamination transfer between can result in either loss of performance
air, a mechanical bypass damper can divert
the supply and exhaust air flows making or damage to the plates themselves.
the air around the plate heat exchanger. This
this application of this technology quite
prevents unwanted heat being transferred If one of the air streams is cooler than the
Menu flexible and broadly applicable to many
to the supply air. dew point of the other air stream, there is a
different industries.
chance of condensation and therefore
Depending upon the material of the plate condensate drains should be provided
Investment and payback
heat exchanger, the cold incoming air from to the ventilation unit.
outside may need to be temperature
Plate heat exchangers are a relatively
simple approach to heat recovery and,
other than ongoing maintenance, are not
a significant operative cost. For a typical As the plate heat exchanger must be installed ductwork through the building as four different
office of 2,500m2 with normal working within the air handling unit, the physical size air paths must be coordinated within one area.
hours, you should expect to pay around of the air handling unit can be large, especially
an extra £6,000 to £8,000 for the inclusion as air flow volumes increase. Access for
Heat pumps
of a plate heat exchanger in a new build maintenance is also required, adding to
project, which should pay back in well the overall plant space required. Heat pump coils remove heat or cool energy
under two years. If you want to retro-fit from one location and direct it to another. They
Due to the need to recover the exhaust air
an exchanger to a similar sized system, are used to avoid cross-contamination of air or
energy and pre-heat the incoming supply air,
the cost is likely to be about £12,000 with when the systems can not be located within the
the ductwork associated with the various air
a payback period of around three years. same air handing unit. This system can be added
paths must be co-ordinated within one area.
retrospectively within an existing and separate
Allowances must be made for routing of the
air handling unit.
Technology guide 36

A ventilation heat pump heat recovery system The cooled liquid is reduced in pressure by Figure 15 Heat pump in heating mode
is built for efficient energy transfer from one air passing through an expansion device and enters
stream to another where the two systems are the exhaust air coil (evaporator) located within Cooling coil
physically independent from each other. Heat the exhaust air stream. In the evaporator the (evaporator)

pumps can provide either heating or cooling refrigerant evaporates (boils) to a vapour state.
Exhaust air
energy to the coil located within the supply This is where the cooling takes place. The
air stream. refrigerant re-enters the compressor and
the cycle starts again. Compressor
Heat pump systems operate on the same
principle as a basic refrigeration cycle. They
use both coils within the air handling unit air Heat pump – cooling mode Supply air
stream as either a condenser or an evaporator
Figure 16 shows that when cooling is required
for heating or cooling purposes. Refrigerant Heating coil
the reverse occurs and heat energy is fed (condenser)
pipework connects supply and extract coils
directly from the compressor into the exhaust
within the air streams of the separate air
air coil (condenser) located within the exhaust
handling units. A compressor and expansion Figure 16 Heat pump in cooling mode
air stream of the AHU.
device is located between the two coils.
The cooled liquid is reduced in pressure after Heating coil
passing through an expansion device and enters (condenser)
Heat pump – heating mode
the supply air coil (evaporator) located within
Exhaust air
Figure 15 shows that if the supply air requires the supply air stream. In the evaporator the
heating, heat energy is fed directly from the refrigerant evaporates (boils) to a vapour state.
compressor via the refrigerant pipework into This is where the cooling of the incoming supply Compressor
the supply air coil (condenser) located within air takes place. The refrigerant then re-enters
the supply air stream of the AHU. This heats the compressor and the refrigerant cycle
the cooler incoming air and leaves the condenser starts again. Supply air
as a cooled refrigerant liquid.
Cooling coil
Technology guide 37

Advantages and disadvantages

Tips for implementation Investment and payback
The heat pump efficiency, of up to 60%, is
usually controlled by adjusting the speed of Don’t forget to consider these issues Heat pumps should save you a significant
the compressor. when looking into heat pumps as your amount off your heating energy bill – in
chosen heat recovery method: some cases as much as 60%. In a typical
The major advantage of this system is that
UK office of 250 people, that could be as
it provides a means of heat recovery where • Although heat pumps provide a way
much as £3,500 a year.
two air streams are not close enough for of transferring energy between two
Menu alternative and more efficient heat recovery separate air streams, overall efficiency
methods. This can assist with the position will be reduced where long distances
of the air handing units and reduction in the are involved.
interconnecting ductwork within the air system.
• The heat pump system can be a
Due to the separation of the air streams via solution for retro-fit as well as new By using heat pumps with an efficiency of
the coils and pipework, there is no risk of build where space constraints mean 50% to provide cooling as well as heating,
cross-contamination within the air streams. other, more efficient methods can’t you could save up to 12% of total building
be used. CO2 in a typical office.

Technology guide 38

Run around coil The possibility of exchanging heat between Figure 17 Run around coil system installed
remote air streams is due to the coils being between supply and extract AHUs
Run around coils are a process where heat or
connected to each other by a pumped pipework
cool energy is removed from one location and
circuit. This pumping will use a small amount
directed to another where the systems cannot Exhaust air
of energy but this will be less than that being
be located within the same air handing unit or
saved by installing the system.
to avoid cross-contamination of air. This system
can be added retrospectively within existing The pipework is charged with a circulating fluid,
and separate air handling units. normally water or glycol, which flows around
the circuit between the coils within the two
A run around coil system is built to enable Supply air
air streams. Hence the closed loop system or
efficient energy transfer from one air system
run around coil terminology (see Figure 17).
to another, where the two systems are
physically independent. Run around coil systems cannot transfer
moisture from one air stream to another and
This process involves a heat transfer coil in each
therefore only sensible heat can be captured.
of the supply and exhaust air streams, but, unlike Figure 18 The efficiencies of run around
For the most cost-effective operation, with
the thermal wheel and plate heat exchanger, a coils can be enhanced significantly by
equal airflow rates and no condensation, typical
run around coil system does not require the air connecting to a secondary heat source as
effectiveness values range from 45% to 55%.
streams to be located within the same AHU. shown below
These coils recover energy from the extracted The fluid pipework distribution circuit connecting
air that would otherwise be lost to atmosphere. the supply and exhaust coils, as well as
Exhaust air
This recovered energy can then be used to containing the circulating pump, requires
pre-heat (or cool) the incoming fresh air stream. the following components:
This reduces the amount of energy needed to
• an expansion vessel
heat (or cool) the supply air to the required
temperature with a corresponding reduction • an automatic fill device to ensure the system
in carbon emissions. remains charged Supply air

Technology guide 39

• controls to bypass and shut down the system

Tips for implementation Benefits
when not required

• various other safety devices and ancillaries. You could achieve up to an 8% reduction
In very cold weather, ice may form on
in electricity use in a general retail store
the coils so you’ll need to ensure that your
by installing a run around coil with
specialist considers the use of Advantages and disadvantages
45% to 55% efficiency.
frost protection in the system.
• Provides heat recovery where air streams are
You can use this approach as a retro-fit not close enough for alternative and more
option in existing separate supply and efficient methods. Using a run around system Heat pipes
extract systems without significant can assist with positioning air handing units
Heat pipes can only be used where the supply
modification to the ductwork but and reduce the interconnecting ductwork.
and extract air streams are contained in the
remember that for it to be viable the
• Additional energy efficiencies, up to 75%, same air handling unit. However, the energy
distance between supply and extract
can be introduced to the run around coil efficiency and lack of mechanical moving parts
ducts shouldn‘t be too great.
configuration if linked to a separate heat source. make them suitable for a majority of applications
within new air handling units.
• Glycol in the fluid system will reduce efficiency
and increase pump power consumption. Heat pipes are simple, low maintenance
Investment and payback devices that can transfer heat from one point to
• The separation of the air streams means there
another without having to use either an external
is no risk of cross-contamination between
power supply or moving parts (i.e. pumps or
In a typical office building of around the air streams.
compressors). In this context, a heat pipe heat
2,500m2, which operates on weekdays
• Multiple air streams in a building can be used exchanger is used for efficient energy transfer
and some early evenings, installation of a
to further improve energy transfer. Exhaust from one air path to another. This process
run around coil system might cost £5,000
heat recovery coils can be focused on involves sealed tubes, sometimes internally
to £7,000 and give payback in the region
high-energy areas where dedicated ventilation lined with a wick, charged with a refrigerant. In
of two years. Retro-fitting run around
services are provided (such as datacentres, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems,
coils is unlikely to cost a significant
kitchens and process ventilation) to maximise heat pipes are located within the supply and
amount more than in new build.
help additional energy recovery. exhaust air streams of an air handling unit.
Technology guide 40

The heat pipes are usually a continuous pipe,

Figure 19 Heat pipes – principle of
Run around coils versus which passes through both the supply and
heat pumps extract air streams.

Within the tube system, the sealed refrigerant Fluid/condensate falling

These two types of heat recovery
located at the bottom of the tube absorbs the
system appear quite similar but in fact Supply air
energy (heat) from the exhaust air stream.
use different approaches to achieve
As the refrigerant within the tube heats up,
similar results.
it changes from a liquid to a vapour. The high Cold air in Warm air out
Menu Both systems can be used where supply temperature vapour rises vertically within the
and exhaust air streams are not physically tube to the other end located within the cooler
close by connecting the streams with incoming supply air stream. The energy (heat)
pipework, but here the similarity ends. within the tube heats up the incoming air
stream. As the temperature of the refrigerant
Run around systems are simple: the
within the tube decreases it changes back to a
pump is the only mechanical part and Cold air out Warm air in
liquid which falls back down the pipe walls to
their efficiency is limited due to the
the bottom of the tube in the exhaust air stream.
heat transfer medium being used. Heat
Then the cycle starts over again. Figure 19
pumps, on the other hand, operate like
illustrates this operation.
a refrigerant circuit and often use Exhaust air Vapour rising
refrigerant fluid rather than a simple By using wicks within the heat pipe tubes, it is
water/glycol mix. Using a compressor and possible to locate the tubes horizontally as the
However, in this vertical configuration, the heat
expansion valve provides greater control wick allows the migration of the liquid via the
pipes are reliant on the arrangement of the AHU
which, whilst increasing complexity, also wick rather than through buoyancy and gravity.
sections (supply and exhaust). If the incoming
increases efficiency. That said, greater efficiencies can be achieved
supply air stream is to be heated by the warmer
if the heat pipe tubes are mounted vertically,
exhaust air (for example winter conditions) then
allowing vapour to naturally migrate up and
the AHU must be configured so that the warmer
the cooler liquid to fall down via gravity.
exhaust air is at the bottom and the cooler
incoming air is at the top, thus allowing
Technology guide 41

buoyancy and gravity to drive the movement

Tips for implementation
of air and the heat recovery process to occur.

If the incoming supply air stream is required Heat pipes have limited flexibility, so you As the heat pipe heat exchanger has to
to be cooled from the cooler exhaust air need to bear these issues in mind if be installed within the air handling unit,
then the AHU must be configured so that considering them for your site. the physical size of the AHU can be
the cooler exhaust air is at the top and the more than would otherwise be the case,
Due to the configuration of the heat pipe,
warmer incoming air is at the bottom. especially as the air flow volume increases.
they are unable to be controlled and
Cool energy recovery can then occur. Good access for maintenance is also
Menu isolated. So, if the heat recovery system
required, again adding to the overall
is not required, for example in summer
plant space required.
Advantages and disadvantages conditions, a mechanical bypass damper
must be used to divert the air around the
As the air streams are not mixed as part of the
heat pipe coil.
process of transferring heat via the heat pipes,
there is no risk of cross-contamination provided
there is a physical divide between the supply
and exhaust air sections within the air
handling unit.

The supply air can be further controlled by

Investment and payback Benefits
means of a main heating or cooling coil following
the heat transfer through the heat pipe heat
In an office housing around 250 people Efficiencies of the heat pipe system can
working typical UK hours, heat pipes range from 50% to 55% on horizontal
The heat pipe system requires the AHU and could potentially save up to 50% on gas pipes and up to 75% on vertical pipes.
associated ductwork to be arranged in a specific bills, which could equate to well over
way. Allowances should be made for routing £4,000 a year.
ductwork through the building plant room.

Technology guide 42

Heat recovery applications: industrial processes

Process heating refers to types of heat transfer techniques such as drying, evaporating,
separating, curing, heat treating, melting and controlling chemical reactions, used in
a wide range of sectors, from laundries and food production to chemicals and foundries.
Recovery of heat used in industrial processes The high-temperature range covers any process gas, a range of oils, LPG and coal. Various
is frequently more complex than in other operating or discharging above 500°C, generally approaches are taken to transferring heat
applications. You should use this section as associated with furnaces or kilns, in the metals, to the process, including:
an initial guide to help you identify whether minerals, ceramics and glass sectors.
• flue gases heated directly by combustion
you should undertake the kinds of processes
The most prevalent use of energy recovered
where heat may be lost and the kinds of • hot water or steam generated in a boiler
from processes occurs in the low temperature
techniques which might be used to recover it.
range and is in fact typically between ambient • through radiation from electrical heating
and 200°C. Opportunities for heat recovery elements
Energy use in industrial processes are based on operations which apply to many
• in air heated indirectly from combustion
industrial sites, such as boilers, refrigeration
The use of energy for industrial processes gases via a heat exchanger.
plant, air compressors and prime movers
can be broadly classed into low and high
(engines or turbines). Each application requires both fuel to generate
temperature ranges. Low temperature covers
the heat and a mechanism to deliver the
processes that operate at or discharge at
heat to the process. In combination, these
temperatures up to 400°C-500°C. Typically, Process heating
arrangements are known as ‘heat sources‘.
you would find these processes in the
Delivery of heat to industrial processes has two
chemicals, food and drink, paper and board
key aspects: the release of heat from a fuel and
and textiles and laundering sectors.
the transfer of heat to the process. A wide range
help of fuels are used, including electricity, natural
Technology guide 43

Steam Hot water Indirect combustion/electrical

Steam is the most widespread process heat Hot water can be produced by electricity or
delivery medium. It is produced via combustion any fossil fuel. It can also be produced by heat This is where the combustion process is
in boilers or as an output from a CHP plant. exchange with process fluids, as well as from separated from the material to be heated by
The main advantages of steam are its high heat waste heat. Water has a large capacity for the structure of the furnace and many furnaces
capacity and flexibility. The main disadvantage is retaining heat, which makes it more useful than operate on this principle. Burners fire into
that it tends to be expensive to produce due to other media, such as air. However, unless it is a combustion chamber and heat is then
inefficiencies in boiler and distribution systems. held under pressure, water will boil if heated transferred through the walls to the material
beyond 100°C. Although it is easy and safe to to be heated. This process is less efficient
Warm air use, this limits the range of activities for which than direct heating, but prevents contamination
water can be used as a heat-transfer medium. of the material. It can also be used where
Warm air can be generated directly by electricity
a product is flammable.
or indirectly by fuel combustion. Warm air is
Thermal oil
generally used for the lower temperature ranges
Direct electrical heating
of process heating, such as drying activities, Thermal oil is usually used where temperatures
where it supplies heat and acts as the carrier to higher than those which can be readily achieved There are various direct electrical heating
remove water or other solvents from a product. with water are required. Systems must be techniques. Arc furnaces use electric current to
robustly maintained to prevent the leak of hot heat metals directly. Induction furnaces are used
oil and, therefore, problems are rare. to heat a range of materials, including metals
and glasses. Very high temperatures of up to
Direct combustion heat 300 to 400ºC can be achieved in inert
atmospheres. Heating with microwaves (or radio
Direct combustion heating, usually using natural
frequency energy) is possible for some types of
gas or fuel oil, is used in many medium and
higher temperature process-heating applications
such as rotary kilns. The main advantages of
this form of heating are the efficiency of heat
transfer and the rapidity of response to heat
help input changes.
Technology guide 44

minimises both heat exchanger surface areas

Specialist advice
and costs. For certain processes it may not
be possible to find a suitable use for the
The application of these techniques will it‘s difficult to give general advice on the available waste heat because of a lack of
often require a bespoke approach which level of investment required. However, the either an economic application or a viable
fits with the specific context of the site, specialist with whom you engage should heat recovery technology.
equipment and processes involved. provide examples of other projects they
Further references
have worked on, so you can make informed
Heat recovery in industrial processes is
Menu choices about the right solution for you. How to implement industrial heat recovery
a specialised area and you will need
equipment (CTL037)
the services of a specialist. See page 55 for tips on finding a suitable
organisation to help you with heat How to implement heat recovery in
As the efficiency of heat recovery in
recovery. compressed air (CTL166)
industrial processes can vary so widely,
Waste heat recovery in the process
industries (GPG141)
• the flow rate of the waste gas stream
Process heating – where Heat recovery from air compressors
heat is wasted • the temperature of the waste gases (GPG238)

• the composition of the waste gases.

High-temperature gases
Once these factors have been established,
Loss of heat through hot waste gases is
the means of heat recovery can be matched
inevitable in all processes involving high
to its end use. Costs for waste heat recovery
temperatures. The energy efficiency of the
and use must be also be assessed.
process can be improved by recovering heat
from the waste gas stream or the waste heat Heat transfer rates are highest at high
can be used elsewhere to reduce primary temperature because of enhanced thermal
energy use. However, several parameters conductivities and greater radiative heat transfer.
must first be evaluated: Operating at high temperatures therefore
Technology guide 45

Case study Air compressors

Specialist advice
Packaging Most of the electricity supplied to an air
Low-temperature processes
compressor (which can be up to 90%) is
Packaging companies have saved converted to heat. It is possible to recover Distillation Page 45
20% of the energy consumption used anywhere from 50% to 90% of this thermal Drying Page 46
for the provision of compressed air by energy and use it to heat other air or water. Dyeing and finishing Page 46
upgrading their compressors and using Evaporation Page 47
Air-cooled and water-cooled packaged rotary
a heat recovery system on exhausts. Prime movers Page 47
Menu screw compressors are typically enclosed in
Ovens Page 48
cabinets and include heat exchangers and fans,
Pasteurisation and sterilisation Page 49
but the waste heat discharged can be recovered.
Process cooling Page 49
The next few pages provide an overview of the
Process heating Page 49
common potential applications for heat recovery Distillation
Washing Page 49
in relation to industrial processes.
Distillation is conventionally carried out in
High-temperature processes
a column in which components of a liquid
Low-temperature processes mixture are separated. By applying heat the Furnaces Page 50
component with the lower boiling point is Furnaces – recuperators Page 50
There are considerable opportunities and
evaporated. The waste heat manifests itself
potential for low-temperature waste heat Uses for high-temperature heat
in the condenser, which is used for cooling
recovery from the following typical plant recovery
the volatile component being boiled off.
and processes.
Charge pre-heating Page 52
Steam generation Page 53
Electricity generation Page 53
Space heating Page 54

Technology guide 46

Drying Figure 21 A sketch of a typical finishing plant with heat recovery from the effluent discharge

Dryers are widely used in several industrial

sectors. Rotary dryers are the principal energy cold water Heat exchanger
consumers, with spray and band dryers also
being significant consumers. Heat is normally holding tank
discharged as warm humid air (see Figure 20).
Dyeing and finishing To drain heater
Dyeing and finishing processes in the textile and
fabric care sector provide good opportunities for Hot water Recycled hot
tank water tank
waste heat recovery (see Figure 21). Warm
effluents can be a source for pre-heating
incoming cold water and heat exchangers can
be used on effluent containing fibres.
Line of batch
finishing machines

Figure 20 A sketch of a typical tunnel dryer

with recirculation to direct exhaust gases
Sump Sump
back to the inlet of the process.

Exhaust Filter
Air Fan
heater Fan heater Rotating
Three drainage channels brush filter
Entrance Discharge below machines
To drain

Technology guide 47

Evaporation Figure 22 A sketch of a multiple effect Prime movers

evaporator. The waste heat is cascaded in
Evaporation is used to concentrate solutions of A prime mover is a component in a system
temperature through a line of evaporator
liquids (see Figure 23). Commonly this involves which converts other forms of energy into
boiling off the water by the addition of heat. useful mechanical energy.
Concentrating the vapour leaving the mixture is
Many plants within industry use prime movers,
the main source of heat loss, as in distillation.
Vapour Reject vapour such as reciprocating gas or diesel engines,
Evaporators are graded in terms of increasing
gas turbines and steam turbines. The latter
efficiency and hence effective use of heat, ie First effect Second effect
Menu evaporator evaporator are sometimes used to recover thermal
single effect, multiple effect and mechanical
Feed Flash energy, for example as pressure reduction units.
recompression (MVR) evaporators.
Reciprocating engines can be useful sources of
Steam heat at a variety of temperatures, ranging from
moderate temperature exhaust gases to lower
grade heat in the water cooling system and,
in larger engines, the oil cooler. Gas turbine
Trap Trap Hot
well exhaust heat can be used for drying and can,
via an absorption refrigeration system,
Condensate provide cooling or refrigeration.

Technology guide 48

Ovens recovered from the oven exhaust and used

typically for other purposes, for example tray
Ovens are commonly used in food ingredients
washing, pre-heating boiler feed water, and
and food derivatives industries. They can be
so on (see Figure 23).
either directly or indirectly fired. Heat can be

Figure 23 A sketch of heat recovery on a bakery oven. Heat recovered from the burner Figure 24 A sketch of plastics injection
Menu exhaust is used for combustion air pre-heating and heat recovered from the oven exhaust is moulding machine cooling circuits with
used to pre-heat hot water heat recovery used for space heating
Water storage

Steam Mains Oven Oven

water exhaust exhaust
Oil cooling circuits for
Fan coil Fan coil majority of machines
HES unit unit
Tray washer Oven
Boiler feed
Condensation Calorifiers
plant Duty / standby Chiller unit
Water pumps

Dough to Bread out

prover Prover Oven of oven

Oil coolers on small

Mould cooling circuit
Gas Gas available at all machines
supply supply
HE1 Combustion air H/Ex 1
HE2 Combustion air H/Ex 2
HE3 Oven extract H/Ex 1 Burner Burner
exhaust exhaust
HE4 Oven extract H/Ex 2 Combustion Combustion
air inlet air inlet
HE5 Steam Calorifier
Technology guide 49

Pasteurisation and sterilisation Figure 25 Typical heat recovery on a Case study

galvanising plant. Liquid-to-liquid and
In the dairy industry, pasteurisation is already
gas-to-liquid heat exchangers are used
Dairy industry
highly efficient in terms of heat recovery; however
to recover heat from the burner flue gases
sterilisation, particularly bottle sterilisation, is Waste heat from a CHP unit in a dairy
for pre-heating the pre-flux tanks
energy intensive and provides more opportunity processing factory was initially used on
for waste heat recovery. Pre-flux Galvanising a spray drier. However, when the drier
tanks bath closed a few years later, a new scheme
Process cooling was developed to use the heat for
Menu Burner Burner
process and space heating.
Process cooling is widely employed for uses
such as plastics injection moulding. Although Pump Burner flue gases
regarded as a ‘low grade’ heat source, it can
be viably used for space heating. Washing
In the fabric care industries, typically in
Process heating
Liquid-to-pre-flux Pump laundering, large amounts of heat are used for
solution heat
The largest consumer of energy in several exchanger
Flue washing. The warm effluents that are normally
industrial sectors is process heating (see heat drained can be a source of heat for pre-heating
Figure 25). Heat input is normally via steam, incoming cold water.
hot oil or direct firing. Process heating duties Fan

include heating feed materials to reaction

temperatures, pipe and storage vessel heating,
calcining, kilning and so on. The heat is
commonly available as hot gases, or in the
solid product being processed.

Technology guide 50

High-temperature processes Loss of heat through hot waste gases is Pre-heating combustion air
inevitable and the energy efficiency of the Pre-heating of combustion air is one of the
The opportunities for heat recovery from
process can be improved by recovering heat most popular uses of waste heat from furnaces
high-temperature processes are significant
from the waste gas stream or the waste heat and kilns due to its high efficiency and reduction
and mainly revolve around the use of
can be used elsewhere to reduce primary in primary fuel use. For a long time, fuel gases
furnace-based operations.
energy use. Several parameters must first were only used for pre-heating combustion
be evaluated: air for large boilers, metal-heating furnaces
and high-temperature kilns. But pre-heating
• the flow rate of the waste gas stream
Menu In any industrial furnace the combustion products using heat from flue gases is now also applied
leave the furnace at a temperature higher than • the temperature or ‘quality’ of the to compact boilers and compact industrial
the stock temperature (see Figure 26). waste gases furnaces.

• the composition of the waste gases. Equipment for combustion air pre-heating can
Figure 26 Typical heat flows and losses be divided into recuperators and regenerators.
Once these factors have been established, the
in a furnace
means of heat recovery can be matched to its A recuperator is a device for waste heat
Heat input Heat in stock end use. Costs for waste heat recovery and recovery that works by counter-flowing hot
use must also be assessed. gases and cold air through a heat exchanger.
External versions are most common, but other
Heat recovery applications techniques such as self-recuperative burners
Waste heat in flue gases can be recovered are also used. A modern recuperator using
for the following: furnace exhaust gas of 1,000°C can preheat the
Moisture in fuel
Hydrogen in fuel
Opening in furnace
Furnace surface/skin
Other losses

combustion air to over 500°C, which results in

Flue gas

• preheating of combustion air

energy savings of up to 30% compared with
• charge pre-heating using cold combustion air.

• using waste heat as a heat source for other A regenerator is a cyclic heat storage device.
processes. The choice of equipment depends on the
efficiency of the device and where it is placed
help in the furnace. It is recommended that, under
Technology guide 51

circumstances where temperature profiles Increasing the temperature of combustion Heat recuperators – radiation type
are critical within a furnace or kiln, both physical air also results in higher flame temperatures.
The cold air and hot waste gases counter-flow
and mathematical modelling of the furnace/ These are associated with higher nitrogen oxide
along concentric tubes (see Figure 27). Heat
burner geometry is undertaken to establish (NOx) emissions, which are subject to stringent
transfer is by radiation. The hot air out is ducted
optimum conditions. standards. High efficiency burners with low
to the furnace burner combustion air inlet.
NOx emissions have recently been developed.
Most conventional gas/air burners are only
capable of operating with pre-heated air up to Since the volume of combustion air increases
Figure 27 A cross-section of a double shell
300°C. Above this temperature, purpose-built when it is preheated, it is necessary to consider
Menu radiation recuperator
burners must be used. While this adds to capital this when modifying air-duct diameters and
costs, combustion efficiencies are improved blowers. It should be noted that pre-heating of
and operating costs are therefore lower. combustion gases from high-density oils with a Cooler gases
high sulphur content could cause clogging with out
High-temperature burners, coupled with either
dust or sulphides, corrosion or increases in NOx.
recuperators or regenerators, are now common Hot air out
in the UK metal, glass, pottery, refractory and
chemical industries.

Combustion air pre-heating normally becomes

attractive when furnaces or kilns operate
above 500°C for an appreciable proportion
of their cycle.

Cooler air in

Hot gases in

Technology guide 52

This kind of exchange is most influenced by Figure 28 Two-step heat exchanger in With furnace pre-heating, gases from the
the temperature, so these recuperators are parallel flows furnace or kiln are directed to the incoming
suitable when the temperature of the flue gases stock by means of ducting, or by extending
is higher than 1000°C, or when the components the furnace. The economics of charge
Air outlet
of the flue gases are aggressive pre-heating depend heavily on the furnace,
or contain a high percentage of particles. Cool gas out oven or kiln geometry.

Initial capital expenditure in extending the

Heat recuperators — convection type
furnace or installing insulated ductwork may
In these recuperators the heat transfer between be high, but subsequent maintenance costs
the primary and secondary fluids is done by Hot gas in should be minimal. At its most efficient, charge
convection (see figure 28). The hot air out pre-heating rivals the pre-heating of combustion
is ducted to the furnace burner combustion Air inlet air in economic viability. Charge pre-heating has
air inlet. the advantage of low maintenance costs, while
combustion air pre-heating normally has lower
Their main feature is the full contact between Charge pre-heating
capital costs.
the gases and the tubes composing the
When raw materials are pre-heated by exhaust
recuperator, so that they are especially suitable Many furnaces, including blast furnaces and
gases before being placed in a heating furnace,
when: pottery tunnel kilns, incorporate charge
the amount of fuel necessary to heat them in
recuperation in the furnace design. In these
• the working temperature is lower than 1000°C the furnace is reduced. As raw materials are
cases, waste gases emitted after recuperation
usually at room temperature, they can be
• the gas streams are fairly clean (with no are at relatively low temperatures (typically
heated sufficiently using high-temperature
particles) and without especially corrosive less than 400°C). In certain industries, for
flue gases, which noticeably reduce the fuel
components. example aluminium and copper foundries,
consumption rate.
stock pre-heating has the additional advantage
of removing the hazard of explosion caused
by entrapped water vapour. Heat transfer
efficiencies vary according to the geometry
of the charge, its thermal conductivity, flow
Technology guide 53

rates and temperatures. Estimates of the fuel Other processes (to generate steam or hot production and petrochemical refining, where
savings possible with this technique vary water by a waste heat boiler) there is a demand for both electricity and low
from 10%-30%. The temperature of furnace exhaust gas can pressure steam.
be 400°C to 600°C, even after heat has been
Power generation using waste heat requires:
Steam generation recovered from it for pre-heating the charge
or combustion air. One possibility is to install a • an almost continuous supply of waste heat:
Waste heat boilers have been used for steam
waste heat boiler to produce steam or hot water
generation for many years in the UK chemical, • water pre-treatment
from this heat, especially when large quantities
copper, iron and steel industries. Steam
Menu of steam or hot water are needed. • regular maintenance
generation using waste heat is only
economically viable if there is a continuous Sometimes exhaust gas heat can be used for • high-pressure boiler and condensing steam
supply of heat and a definite requirement for heating purposes in other equipment, but only if turbine plant.
process steam and paybacks on investments the heat quantity, temperature range, operation
This last requirement results in high capital
of around three years can be achieved. time and so on are suitable. Where this is the
costs. Estimated payback periods are generally
case, you could greatly reduce fuel consumption.
Waste heat boilers are highly energy efficient three to six years and this use for waste heat
One existing example is the use of exhaust gas
(typically around 80%). In using waste heat has therefore not found favour in the UK.
from a quenching furnace as a heat source in
boilers, consideration should be given to the
a tempering furnace. There is currently no example of a retro-fitted
ease of installing the device and associated
power generation system using high
water treatment plant and the cost of regular
Electricity generation temperature waste gas streams in the UK.
maintenance. Use of waste heat boilers is
The only exception is the use of gas turbine
generally considered only at the plant design The generation of electricity using waste heat
exhaust in waste heat boilers in a combined heat
stage and not when considering retro-fit is well established in the UK chemical and
and power (CHP) plant. For further information,
opportunities. petrochemical industry, where it forms an
see Department for Energy and Climate Change
integral part of the chemical process stream.
Waste heat boiler plant is normally purchased documents (
In this industry, processes are often uneconomic
on the basis of process steam requirements or,
without this heat recovery facility. Examples
in a few cases, for a space heating requirement
can be found in ethylene cracking, ammonia
when a steam main is already employed.
Technology guide 54

Uses for recovered heat from Space heating becomes more attractive when: Case study
high-temperature processes
• the source of waste heat is close to the area to Diamond Power Specialty Ltd
Space heating be heated
Although waste heat is frequently used Boiler cleaning and ash-handling systems
• current heating systems are highly inefficient
for space heating, this use is often not as producer Diamond Power paid back its
cost-effective as others and payback periods • there is no other possible use for the waste heat recovery system in 3.3 years. The
are typically three to five years. heat and the heat generating process has firm installed a simple mechanical
been optimised ventilation system to remove the waste
Menu Space heating has several disadvantages over
heat from the compressor room. The
other uses, such as combustion air pre-heating. • the heat exchange technology is simple to
warm air contributes to the space heating
If the source of the waste heat and the space to install and cheap to purchase and maintain
in the workshop or is ducted outside in
be heated are not adjacent, then long lengths of
• the supply of waste heat is coincident with the warmer months.
ducting combined with some form of air dilution
the demand of the area to be heated.
are often required. The high cost of transmitting
the heat can thus offset any economic Most of these criteria should be met before
advantage. Furthermore, if high temperature space heating is considered as a viable use for
waste heat is used for space heating then, in hot waste gases.
general, only a fraction of the heat available is
Use of waste heat for space heating can,
used. In the summer months, for example, all
however, be economic when it displaces
the waste heat is dumped. The economics are
obsolete heating systems or is used to heat
thus calculated for a heating season which lasts
new buildings – that is, as an alternative to other
about seven months.
heating systems – and when some capital
Space heating as an application for recovered investment would have been necessary anyway.
waste heat should only be considered when other When space heating applications supplement
options are shown not to be technically viable. existing heating plant, the economics are
generally poor.

Technology guide 55

Next steps
By reading this overview guide, you should now have a good understanding of the types
of processes that may be wasting heat unnecessarily in your business.

There are a number of things you can do next Light manufacturing and For situations where the heat recovery system
which will help you decide whether or not to warehousing heat recovery you are considering will be part of your building’s
invest in the implementation of one or more webinar inherent systems (such as ventilation, heating
heat recovery systems in your building. and so on), you should approach a building
If your business is manufacturing on a smaller
services engineer. If you don‘t have an existing
scale or warehousing, there is a webinar that
relationship with an engineering practice,
Heat recovery checklist can help you. The webinar will show you how
a good place to find a reputable company is
you can reduce your energy bills by up to 30%,
If you haven‘t already, you can use the Heat, the website of the Chartered
identify where heat is being wasted, where heat
Recovery Checklist to help you ask the right Institution of Building Services Engineers, which
recovery can be retro-fitted and how you could
questions about the systems in your building. features a ‘Find an expert’ service. You could
potentially offset the capital cost of heat
This includes the important step of ensuring also contact the Combustion Engineering
recovery against profits.
your building services are already operating Association (, which should
efficiently before considering heat recovery. be able to help with certain technologies.
Engage with a specialist
The checklist covers practical issues and key If you are considering heat recovery to be
things to look out for in your building. Once you’ve established that heat recovery incorporated into an industrial process, you‘ll
is for you, you should engage a specialist to need to choose a specialist carefully and ensure
advise you by carrying out a more detailed they have particular experience in the field.
feasibility study and providing an estimate of One way to do this is to make contact with
help the work required. equipment manufacturers.
Technology guide 56

Finally, heat recovery systems should always Further reading Waste heat recovery in the process
be installed by experienced and reputable industries (GPG141)
There are a number of other publications
contractors. If you don‘t have an existing
available through the Carbon Trust which might How to implement industrial heat recovery
relationship with a contractor you can contact
be of interest: equipment (CTL037)
the Heating and Ventilation Contractors’
Association ( Heat recovery from air compressors Air-to-air heat recovery: a guide to
(GPG238) equipment eligible for ECAs (ECA771)

Energy efficient operation of boiler plant Find products which qualify for Enhanced
(GPG369) Capital Allowances

Low temperature hot water boilers –

Introducing energy saving opportunities
for business (CTV008)

How to recover heat from a compressed air

system (CTL051)

Technology guide 57

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