Heat Exchangers in Waste Heat Recovery

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research


What it is

Heat exchangers are devices that transfer heat between two or more fluids at different temperatures. They are essential components in many industrial processes, including power generation, chemical processing, refrigeration, and HVAC systems. Heat exchangers play a crucial role in improving energy efficiency by recovering and utilizing waste heat, reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Impact on climate action

Heat Exchangers in Industrial Waste Heat Recovery optimize energy efficiency by capturing and reusing waste heat from industrial processes. By reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, these innovations promote sustainable practices, enhance resource utilization, and contribute to climate action by minimizing industrial carbon footprints and conserving energy resources.

Underlying
Technology

  • Shell and Tube Heat Exchangers: These are the most common type of heat exchanger, consisting of a shell with a bundle of tubes inside. One fluid flows through the tubes, while the other fluid flows around the tubes within the shell.
  • Plate Heat Exchangers: These exchangers consist of a series of plates with channels for the fluids to flow through. They offer a compact and efficient design with a high heat transfer surface area.
  • Finned Tube Heat Exchangers: These exchangers have fins attached to the tubes to increase the heat transfer surface area, improving efficiency.
  • Heat Pipes: Heat pipes are sealed tubes containing a working fluid that evaporates and condenses to transfer heat efficiently between two points.

TRL : 8-9

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Advanced Heat Exchanger Designs: Researchers and companies are developing new heat exchanger designs that offer higher efficiency, lower pressure drop, and improved fouling resistance. This includes innovations in materials, surface geometries, and flow configurations.
  • Nanofluids for Heat Transfer Enhancement: Nanofluids, which contain suspended nanoparticles, can enhance heat transfer coefficients and improve the efficiency of heat exchangers.
  • Printed Circuit Heat Exchangers (PCHEs): PCHEs are compact and efficient heat exchangers that are manufactured using additive manufacturing techniques.
  • Microchannel Heat Exchangers: These exchangers have very small channels for fluid flow, providing a high heat transfer surface area and improved efficiency.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Enhanced Surface Geometries for Improved Efficiency
  • Nanofluids for Heat Transfer Enhancement
  • Compact Designs for Space-Constrained Environments
  • High-Performance Printed Circuit Heat Exchangers (PCHEs)
  • Advanced Materials for Heat Exchanger Construction
  • Microchannel Heat Exchangers for Enhanced Efficiency
  • Fouling Resistance Technologies
  • Integration of Heat Exchangers in Energy Storage Systems
  • Heat Exchangers for Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) Systems
  • Novel Heat Transfer Fluids for Increased Efficiency
  • Heat Exchangers for Enhanced Industrial Process Heating
  • Advanced Computational Modeling for Heat Exchanger Optimization
  • Heat Exchanger Retrofitting for Energy Efficiency Improvement
  • Hybrid Heat Exchanger Systems for Multi-Source Heat Recovery
  • Heat Exchanger Monitoring and Maintenance Technologies

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. HeatMatrix:
    • Technology Enhancement: HeatMatrix focuses on advanced heat exchanger solutions for industrial processes, with a particular emphasis on heat recovery and efficiency improvement. Their heat exchangers utilize innovative materials and designs to maximize heat transfer efficiency while minimizing pressure drop and fouling. They offer a range of heat exchanger products tailored to various industries and applications.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: HeatMatrix stands out for its commitment to energy efficiency and sustainability in industrial heat exchange applications. Their heat exchanger solutions help industries recover waste heat, reduce energy consumption, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, their focus on modular and customizable designs enables them to address the specific needs of different industries and processes.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: HeatMatrix serves industries requiring efficient heat exchange solutions, including chemical processing, oil and gas, food and beverage, and manufacturing. Their heat exchangers are deployed in processes such as heat recovery from exhaust gases, process heating and cooling, and steam generation, helping customers improve operational efficiency and reduce environmental impact.
  2. Calefactio:
    • Technology Enhancement: Calefactio specializes in hydronic heating solutions, including heat exchangers, buffer tanks, and accessories for residential and commercial heating systems. Their heat exchangers are designed to optimize heat transfer efficiency between different fluid streams, such as water and air, within hydronic heating systems. They offer a range of heat exchanger products tailored to various building sizes and heating requirements.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Calefactio stands out for its expertise in hydronic heating technology and its focus on providing reliable and efficient heat exchange solutions for heating contractors and building owners. Their heat exchangers are known for their robust construction, high performance, and ease of installation, making them suitable for both new construction and retrofit projects.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Calefactio serves heating contractors, HVAC professionals, and building owners seeking efficient and cost-effective hydronic heating solutions. Their heat exchangers are used in residential, commercial, and institutional buildings for space heating, domestic hot water production, and radiant floor heating applications.
  3. Exergy International:
    • Technology Enhancement: Exergy International specializes in high-performance heat exchangers for critical applications in the energy, chemical, and petrochemical industries. Their heat exchanger designs incorporate advanced materials, such as superalloys and titanium, to withstand high temperatures, pressures, and corrosive environments. They offer a range of custom-engineered heat exchanger solutions for demanding process conditions.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Exergy International stands out for its expertise in custom-engineered heat exchanger solutions for extreme operating conditions. Their heat exchangers are designed to meet the stringent requirements of industries such as oil and gas, power generation, and chemical processing, where reliability, durability, and performance are paramount.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Exergy International serves industries requiring high-performance heat exchanger solutions for critical process applications, including refining, petrochemicals, LNG production, and power generation. Their heat exchangers are used in processes such as heat recovery, heat transfer, and thermal management, where efficient and reliable heat exchange is essential for process efficiency and safety.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Research Focus: MIT is a pioneer in research on Heat Exchangers for Industrial Waste Heat Recovery, focusing on developing advanced heat transfer technologies, materials, and system designs to maximize the efficiency of waste heat recovery processes in industrial applications.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the design and optimization of novel heat exchanger geometries, surface coatings, and fluid dynamics to enhance heat transfer rates, minimize fouling and corrosion, and improve overall system performance. They also explore integration with waste heat sources, thermal storage systems, and power generation technologies to maximize the utilization of recovered heat energy.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in various industrial sectors, including manufacturing, chemical processing, and power generation. By recovering and utilizing waste heat, MIT’s research contributes to energy efficiency improvements, cost savings, and emissions reduction in industrial processes, thereby enhancing sustainability and competitiveness.
  2. Stanford University:
    • Research Focus: Stanford University conducts innovative research on Heat Exchangers for Industrial Waste Heat Recovery, leveraging its expertise in thermal sciences, materials engineering, and energy systems to develop advanced heat exchange solutions for diverse industrial applications.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the development of high-efficiency heat exchanger materials, coatings, and manufacturing techniques to withstand high temperatures, corrosive environments, and thermal cycling conditions. They also investigate advanced heat transfer enhancement techniques, such as microchannels, nanofluids, and phase-change materials, to improve energy recovery rates and system reliability.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in industrial waste heat recovery units, combined heat and power systems, and district heating networks. By optimizing heat exchanger performance and reliability, Stanford’s research enables industries to recover and utilize waste heat resources more effectively, reducing energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and operating costs.
  3. National University of Singapore (NUS):
    • Research Focus: NUS is engaged in cutting-edge research on Heat Exchangers for Industrial Waste Heat Recovery, leveraging its multidisciplinary expertise in thermal engineering, materials science, and process optimization to develop innovative solutions for waste heat utilization and energy efficiency enhancement.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the development of compact, scalable, and cost-effective heat exchanger designs for capturing and transferring waste heat from industrial processes to useful applications, such as space heating, water heating, and electricity generation. They also explore integration with renewable energy sources, energy storage systems, and smart grid technologies to enhance the flexibility and resilience of waste heat recovery systems.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in various industrial sectors, including petrochemicals, steelmaking, and food processing. By harnessing waste heat resources, NUS’s research contributes to resource conservation, environmental sustainability, and economic competitiveness in industrial operations, fostering a transition towards a circular and low-carbon economy.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Heat exchangers are widely used in various industries and applications, including power generation, chemical processing, refrigeration, and HVAC systems. They are a mature technology with a proven track record of performance and reliability.