High-Temperature Heat Pumps in Waste Heat Recovery

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

High-temperature heat pumps are devices that recover waste heat from industrial processes and upgrade it to a higher temperature level, making it suitable for reuse in the same or other processes. This technology offers a way to improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and lower energy costs in industrial facilities.

Impact on climate action

High-Temperature Heat Pumps in Industrial Waste Heat Recovery bolster climate action by converting waste heat into usable energy. By capturing and repurposing industrial waste heat, these pumps improve energy efficiency, reduce fossil fuel consumption, and lower greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to a more sustainable and low-carbon industrial sector.


  • Vapor-Compression Cycle: The heat pump uses a compressor to increase the pressure and temperature of a refrigerant. The high-temperature refrigerant then releases heat to the industrial process or heating medium.
  • Working Fluids: High-temperature heat pumps often use refrigerants with higher boiling points, such as ammonia or hydrocarbons, to achieve higher operating temperatures.
  • Heat Exchangers: Heat exchangers transfer heat between the waste heat source, the refrigerant, and the industrial process or heating medium.
  • System Integration and Control: High-temperature heat pump systems require sophisticated control systems to manage the refrigeration cycle, optimize heat transfer, and ensure safe and efficient operation.

TRL : 6-7

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Advanced Compressor Technologies: Innovations in compressor technology, such as two-stage compressors and magnetic bearing compressors, are improving the efficiency and performance of high-temperature heat pumps.
  • High-Temperature Refrigerants: Researchers are developing new refrigerants with higher boiling points and lower environmental impact for use in high-temperature heat pumps.
  • Improved Heat Exchanger Designs: Advanced heat exchanger designs, such as plate heat exchangers and heat pipes, are maximizing heat transfer efficiency in high-temperature heat pump systems.
  • Integration with Industrial Processes: High-temperature heat pumps are being integrated with various industrial processes, such as drying, evaporation, and distillation, to recover and reuse waste heat.

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. FuturaHeat:
    • Technology Enhancement: FuturaHeat specializes in high-temperature heat pumps designed to efficiently capture and utilize heat energy at elevated temperatures. Their heat pump systems are engineered to operate at temperatures significantly higher than conventional heat pumps, making them suitable for industrial processes, district heating, and other high-temperature applications. They employ advanced refrigeration cycles and heat exchanger designs to achieve high efficiency and performance.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: FuturaHeat stands out for its focus on high-temperature heat pump technology and its ability to deliver customized solutions tailored to the specific needs of industrial and commercial clients. Their expertise in heat pump design and engineering enables them to address challenging applications that require precise temperature control and energy efficiency.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: FuturaHeat serves industries requiring high-temperature heat solutions, including manufacturing, food processing, chemical processing, and district heating. Their heat pump systems help customers reduce energy costs, lower carbon emissions, and enhance process efficiency by utilizing waste heat and renewable energy sources.
  2. Ecogen Systems:
    • Technology Enhancement: Ecogen Systems specializes in high-efficiency heat pump solutions for commercial and industrial applications. Their heat pump systems are capable of delivering high-temperature heat for space heating, hot water production, and industrial processes. Ecogen Systems integrates advanced heat pump technology with innovative controls and monitoring systems to optimize performance and energy savings.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Ecogen Systems stands out for its commitment to developing energy-efficient heat pump solutions tailored to the needs of commercial and industrial clients. Their focus on system integration, reliability, and performance optimization enables them to deliver cost-effective and sustainable heating solutions for a wide range of applications.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Ecogen Systems serves commercial and industrial clients seeking high-temperature heat solutions for buildings, manufacturing facilities, and process heating applications. Their heat pump systems offer a clean and sustainable alternative to traditional heating systems, helping customers reduce operating costs and environmental impact.
  3. Enertime:
    • Technology Enhancement: Enertime specializes in Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) technology, which is a form of high-temperature heat pump used for power generation and industrial heat recovery. Their ORC systems can operate with heat sources at temperatures up to several hundred degrees Celsius, making them suitable for capturing waste heat from industrial processes and converting it into electricity or useful thermal energy.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Enertime stands out for its expertise in ORC technology and its focus on industrial heat recovery and renewable energy applications. Their ORC systems offer high efficiency and flexibility, allowing customers to maximize the value of waste heat resources and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Enertime serves industries with significant heat generation and energy consumption, including steel, cement, glass, and chemical manufacturing. Their ORC systems enable industrial clients to recover waste heat from various processes and convert it into electricity or usable thermal energy, contributing to energy efficiency improvements and emissions reduction.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Technical University of Denmark (DTU):
    • Research Focus: DTU is a prominent institution in research on High-Temperature Heat Pumps for Industrial Waste Heat Recovery, focusing on developing advanced heat pump technologies capable of efficiently recovering waste heat from industrial processes operating at high temperatures.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the design, optimization, and testing of high-temperature heat pump systems capable of achieving elevated temperature differentials and operating temperatures suitable for industrial applications. They explore innovative refrigerants, compressor technologies, and heat exchanger designs to enhance energy efficiency, reliability, and durability.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in various industrial sectors, including steel manufacturing, chemical processing, and cement production. By recovering waste heat and upgrading it to useful temperatures for process heating, DTU’s research contributes to energy savings, emission reductions, and resource conservation in industrial facilities, enhancing their competitiveness and sustainability.
  2. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL):
    • Research Focus: NREL conducts groundbreaking research on High-Temperature Heat Pumps for Industrial Waste Heat Recovery, leveraging its expertise in thermodynamics, heat transfer, and renewable energy technologies to develop innovative solutions for industrial heat recovery and decarbonization.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the development of next-generation heat pump systems optimized for high-temperature applications, such as waste heat recovery from industrial furnaces, kilns, and exhaust streams. They investigate advanced cycle configurations, component materials, and system integration approaches to maximize energy efficiency and system performance.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in a wide range of industrial processes, including metal smelting, glassmaking, and petroleum refining. By deploying high-temperature heat pumps for waste heat recovery, NREL’s research helps industrial facilities reduce their energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and reliance on fossil fuels, while also improving their energy resilience and competitiveness.
  3. University of Stuttgart (Germany):
    • Research Focus: The University of Stuttgart is engaged in cutting-edge research on High-Temperature Heat Pumps for Industrial Waste Heat Recovery, leveraging its expertise in mechanical engineering, thermal sciences, and process optimization to develop advanced heat pump technologies tailored to industrial applications.
    • Uniqueness: Their research focuses on the development of customized heat pump solutions for specific industrial processes, taking into account factors such as temperature requirements, heat source characteristics, and operational constraints. They explore innovative heat pump architectures, control strategies, and system integration techniques to ensure optimal performance and reliability under real-world conditions.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their research have applications in heavy industries such as steelmaking, chemical processing, and food manufacturing. By recovering waste heat and converting it into useful thermal energy, the University of Stuttgart’s research supports industrial decarbonization efforts, enhances energy efficiency, and promotes the transition to sustainable and resource-efficient production processes.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

High-temperature heat pumps are being implemented in various industrial facilities around the world, particularly in energy-intensive industries such as chemicals, paper production, and food processing.