Industrial Heat: ECN helps to increase your energy efficiency

Does your company wants to increase its energy efficiency, lower its energy costs and improve its sustainability? As a technology provider, do you want to develop new technology that helps industrial end-users with saving energy? ECN can help you with that.

What can ECN do for you?

The use of heat is responsible for more than 80% of the industrial energy use and therefore is responsible for a large share of the energy costs of industry. In addition, the heat supply of industry is to a large extent based on fossil fuels and is therefore responsible for the largest share of the industrial CO2 emissions.

Energy efficiency measures are a logical means to improve the processes, lower the energy costs, and increase sustainability. ECN has large experience and knowledge in implementing energy efficiency measures, particularly with relation to efficient use of heat and is your ideal partner in this topic. ECN can help you with different activities:

    • Technology development: Making the industrial heat system more sustainable
    • Process analyses: Improving your current operations
    • Contract research: Knowledge and experience for development of your ideas

1. Technology development: making the industrial heat system more sustainable

ECN works on technologies that are not yet commercially available in het market. This relates to both adaption of existing technology or radical new concepts for increasing the sustainability of the industrial heat system. The focus of our developments is on heat pumps for upgrading waste heat to process heat and on storage of (waste) heat. Think of innovative compression heat pumps, thermoacoustic heat pumps, sorption heat pumps and novel heat storage. More information can be found below.

  • Compression heat pumps
    The most common technology for upgrading waste heat is a compression heat pump. This technology, which originates from refrigeration technology, is currently able to upgrade waste heat of temperature levels around 30-40°C to process heat of about 90°C. Developments are ongoing worldwide to increase the delivery temperature of this of heat pump to temperatures above 100°C. This allows for the production of steam and enlarges the application of industrial heat pump considerably.

    ECN works with suppliers to develop compression heat pumps for industrial steam supply from residual heat. See examples of this on the project page.

  • Thermoacoustic heat pumps
    Most heat pump technologies have operational limits with respect to temperature. These limits are determined by the working medium. Thermoacoustic heat pumps do not have this limitation, since they use Helium as working medium. Thermoacoustic heat pumps are therefore applicable in a large number of different applications.

    Together with various parties we develop an industrial thermo-acoustic heat pump. Read more on the project page.

  • Sorption heat pumps
    Most heat pumps use electricity to drive the system. In some case it is more useful to use (waste)heat as the driving force for a heat pump. A well-known example is a sorption cooler, that uses (waste) heat of 80°C to generate cooling of 5-10°C. This principle however, can be applied to a much wider range of applications.

    In a project we develop a sorption system capable of recovering residual heat from a spray dryer consisting of hot humid air almost completely.

  • Heat storage
    The storage of heat for reuse at a later time is a logical means to save large amounts of energy. In industrial batch processes for example, the waste heat of a current batch can be used to heat up the next batch. Although heat storage is a well-known technology in a number of sectors, industrial applications have so far been limited. This caused by both the lack of suitable materials and the high investment costs.

    In cooperation with several parties, ECN works in the LOCOSTO project for industrial heat storage solutions in the temperature range between 100 ° C and 250 ° C, which are both technically and economically feasible. Read more on our project page.

Would you like to know more?

Check out our research programme on indstrial heat. Read about our cooperation on the development of heat pumps with Bronswerk Heat Transfer. You can also download our brochure on Heat Technology



See the Bronswerk customer case.


Tip: are you curious on how and with whom ECN applied its knowledge in the area of heat pumps and heat storage? Look at the projects page that lists some examples of our projects and relevant partners.

2. Process analyses: improve your current operations

How is your current energy use divided among the different process steps? Which unit operations cause the largest losses? Which process improvements are possible that lead to a lower energy use? Which technologies can lead to a higher energy efficiency, both on short and long term? What about the economic feasibility of improvement options? ECN can supply answers to these and other relevant questions.

The improvement of your operations start with a careful analysis of the current processes. 

Work together on energy savings 
We analyze the industrial process in close cooperation with you as an industrial end-user. Your knowledge on your own processes is combined with ECN knowledge on process thermodynamics and energy efficient technologies.  

This analysis forms the starting point of the identification of energy saving options. These options vary from the redesign of the process to the replacement of an existing technology by a new, more energy efficient technology. 

ECN has large experience with processes in the chemical, refining, paper & food sector. We have knowledge on these production processes as well as on technology that is applied in these sectors. We consider all technology options and are specialized in the application of high-temperature heat pumps. 

More info?

More information about our expertise regarding modeling, testing arrangements and unique facilities for measurement and R & D on materials or systems? Then read our brochure.

You can download this for free.


3. Contract research: Knowledge and experience for development of your ideas

You can get in touch with ECN for  assessment and R&D in the area of materials, components, systems and processes related to the conversion and storage of heat and/or cold. We will gladly inform you on how we can be of service to you. 

ECN is your partner in R&D

  • ECN has extensive knowledge and infrastructure for the development, characterization and testing of thermally active materials.
  • Assessment and feasibility of technology concepts for energy efficiency
  • Design and construction of experimental setups
  • Cooperative development and upscaling of prototypes
  • Modelling & analyses of thermal components & systems

ECN has unique facilities to measure performance of thermal components and systems up to a power level of 200 kW and temperatures levels up 200°C.

More info?
More information about our expertise regarding modeling, testing arrangements and unique facilities for measurement and R & D on materials or systems? Then read our brochure. You can download this for free.

Tip: are you curious on how and with whom ECN applied its knowledge? Look at the projects page that lists some examples of our projects and relevant partners. 

More information or questions? 
More information about our expertise in enery efficiency for the industry you find on the Energy Efficiency pages.

We are pleased to tell you more about solutions for industrial heat. You can contact us by phone or email during the contact  form.