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Waste Heat: Great Source for Green Hydrogen

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Kshitiz Agarwal's picture
Consultant - Self Employed, Kshitiz Consultation Services

Hi, I am Kshitiz. The golden thread in my career is my ability to ask the right questions to set projects and businesses up for success. I achieve this by making the complex simple and typically...

  • Member since 2021
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  • Feb 8, 2022

As a student, I had worked to develop and pitch the idea to use Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) for Power Generation to various stakeholders, which was not considered as a viable option due to several constraints at that time. But now reading the results of the Horizon 2020 TASIO project, makes me feel overwhelmed.

As I mentioned in my article “Role of Heat in Decarbonization” (Please see the link in the comment section), recovery, storage, transportation, and utilization of waste heat increases the overall industrial process performance and hence reduces their carbon footprint.

  1. Waste heat can be utilized from the industrial processes; alternatively, it can be re-used for thermal generation by upgrading the temperature of waste heat to power district heating, hence reducing overall fuel consumption.
  2. Waste heat can be used to generate carbon-free power.

TAISO project was a  pilot project demonstrating direct usage of waste heat for electricity generation through ORC. This project also estimates a potential in Europe of annual 11 TWh of reliable electricity generation through waste heat resulting in Carbon emission saving of 3.1 M Tonnes.

Being reliable and continuous, this electricity can further be used for green hydrogen production. Turboden estimates this will bring the price of hydrogen to €2-3 per Kg.

Let me know your thoughts.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Feb 8, 2022

This project also estimates a potential in Europe of annual 11 TWh of reliable electricity generation through waste heat

How quickly do you think it could ramp up to this scale? Obviously not overnight, but I also wonder about the friction-- is that 11 TWh more or less focused on facilities/areas where stakeholders would readily embrace? Or would the in practice total be naturally lower than that theoretical scale? 

Kshitiz Agarwal's picture
Kshitiz Agarwal on Feb 8, 2022

The work under TIASO was focused on the Energy Intensive Industries in Europe. Hence I believe their estimation of 11 TWh should be close to actuals. The best part of this pilot project is to demonstrate by the use of ORC waste heat can be best utilized on facilities/areas where either no other waste heat consumer or infrastructure is available. 

From my experience there are two main issues in scaling this up: 1) Awareness and 2) Incentives (both regulatory and economical). However, there are many other demonstrations and identification projects had concluded or are ongoing to validate technologies and to mitigate roadblocks. 

Julian Jackson's picture
Julian Jackson on Feb 10, 2022

I agree that this is a promising area. What about the waste heat that datacenters generate? Even in my small home office, the two computers often keep me warm in winter! With appropriate legislation and planning, surely we could channel the waste heat from our ever-expanding computer utilization to more productive uses, like district heating, or nearby greenhouses?

Kshitiz Agarwal's picture
Kshitiz Agarwal on Feb 16, 2022

That is very right Julian. Data centers and Crypto Currency Mining can be two sources of large quantities of heat. From my experience, they produce the low quality of. around 100 deg C. Hence as of now it is not economical to retrieve this heat. 

However, Project like Indus3Es has developed Absorption Heat Transformer which is an anticipated economically viable solution to retrieve low-quality heat. Let me know if you know any of the project where low-quality heat or heat from data centers are used for district heating. 

Julian Jackson's picture
Julian Jackson on Feb 17, 2022

Thanks for your reply.  I wonder if you could expand on your first paragraph. I know of some farm projects that are generating renewable energy and using it to mine crypto, then sending the waste heat to greenhouses, for example, so I didn't understand why you think it is low quality.

Kshitiz Agarwal's picture
Kshitiz Agarwal on Feb 25, 2022

Thanks, Julian, what I mean by low quality heat is low temperature. Heat transfer is the function of the difference in temperature between two fluids or medium and mass flow. At the low temperature, it becomes uneconomical to retrieve the waste heat as energy storage. 

Having said that economics and feasibility of such a system are largely dependent on the application and project; distance between consumer and waste heat producers etc. I have talked about some of such limitations in the article whose link I have posted above. 

Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on Feb 22, 2022

There are practical limits on using waste heat, including cost versus benefits. It’s been my experience that short term cost considerations trump longer range value. Stated differently, making a quick buck is the primary consideration in most companies and organizations, with consumers constrained by how much money they earn.

Kshitiz Agarwal's picture
Kshitiz Agarwal on Feb 25, 2022

That's correct Michael, also I believe the lack of availability of infrastructure and technologies further makes waste heat utilization unattractive. 

Kshitiz Agarwal's picture
Thank Kshitiz for the Post!
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