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Heat pump technology improves industrial drying processes

industrial high-temperature heat pump

At the Wienerberger AG brickworks in Uttendorf, the first high-temperature heat pump for industrial drying processes is being tested for the first time in a real environment. (Copyright: AIT / Schneeberger)

In mid-December 2019, the first industrial high-temperature heat pump went into demo operation at the Wienerberger Österreich GmbH brickworks in Uttendorf, Austria. According to the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, the heat pump converts waste heat produced during the brick drying process into usable energy. The research institute developed this specific heat pump technology as part of the EU’s DryFiciency project.

Currently, the majority of energy produced for industrial drying processes is lost as exhaust air. “In order to remove the water from bricks or other products such as food stuffs, temperatures of between 90 and 170°C are needed to cause evaporation,” explains Stefan Puskas, the DryFiciency project manager at Wienerberger. Until now, heat pumps could not be used to recover waste heat at temperatures above 110°C.

At the brickworks, bricks are formed, dried and then fired. This process occurs in a continuous tunnel dryer, where the high-temperature heat pump has now been integrated. The pump uses warm water generated by exhaust heat recovered from the dryer in order to supply heat to the tunnel. “Heat pumps offer a real alternative to conventional gas burners in many drying processes,” explains Veronika Wilk, scientific coordinator of the DryFiciency project and a senior research engineer at the AIT Center for Energy. In comparison to conventional gas-fired boilers, heat pumps can improve energy efficiency by up to 80% and reduce CO2 emissions up to 7%. In addition, they reduce production costs by as much as 20%. “The technologies we have developed can be integrated into existing equipment and implemented in a wide variety of industrial sectors, from paper, food and beverages to textiles to other chemical industries,” Wilk concludes. (SP)

For more information, please visit: AIT

 

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