Do you recognise these 4 challenges in introducing an industrial heat pump? Here’s how to overcome them!
The implementation of industrial heat pumps can be a complicated process, full of potential obstacles. In this blog, we highlight some common challenges and offer solutions to circumvent them. Because with the right knowledge and approach, you can overcome many challenges.
In recent years, gas and electricity prices have risen sharply. Alongside these price increases, the government has also set out a clear vision for the future: a focus on electrification by applying energy taxes on natural gas. With a heat pump, you can heat and cool industrial processes, achieving a significant reduction in CO2 emissions. However, we can also understand that certain thoughts might hold you back. Do you recognise one or more of the following challenges?
Challenge 1: Lack of insight into your energy management
A lack of insight into your exact energy consumption can lead to unnecessarily high energy bills, inefficiencies and a larger ecological footprint. Without a clear picture, you miss opportunities to operate more efficiently and sustainably.
Solution: Conduct a thorough energy audit or use an energy monitoring system to get a clear picture of your current energy consumption and needs. This forms the basis for decisions on potential improvements and investments.
Good to know: specialised companies can often contribute to this in a relatively simple way. Consider the use of energy meters for electrical consumers and clamp-on flow meters for water consumers. These can sometimes be installed even during normal operations. In the process, you can also perform various analyses by setting up data logging, which then allows you to analyse the energy flows. For example, you can calculate the power levels with a high degree of certainty based on the output of a steam valve.
Challenge 2: Combining energy streams
The heat pump installation must not affect production. Naturally, the reverse is also true: the process must not lead to an unreliable heat pump system. How you deal with this depends on the required energy streams and capacity fluctuations in the plant. The challenge with a heat pump system is that process cooling and process heating can be combined in one installation, whereas in the existing situation, they are often generated with two separate installations.
Solution: A study of the current energy flows provides a clear picture of the actual consumption of process cooling and process heating. This study also reveals the extent of simultaneity in these flows. If simultaneity exists, the combined generation of the energy flows does not affect the current process. In practice, this is often not the case. The study also maps out fluctuations in the energy flows. All this information forms the basis for the overarching design of the heat pump system.
Challenge 3: Competing investment projects
When considering significant investments in sustainability, you often face multiple options, each with its own advantages. This leads to uncertainty; which investment will yield the most return?
Solution: Focus on the long-term benefits of heat pumps. Although the initial costs can be high, a heat pump offers many societal and financial advantages. In addition to a significant reduction in CO2 emissions, it’s important to map out the operational savings. This is especially relevant now that the government has announced a strong commitment to electrification by applying energy taxes on natural gas.
Challenge 4: Production certainty with respect to equipment
A challenge you’re likely already facing: leaking valves or defective pumps. With a heat pump system, these challenges can become much greater. A heat pump relies on various components, such as compressors, heat exchangers and control systems. When a heat pump stops working, process cooling and process heating are no longer available. The failure of just one component can lead to significant operational losses, reduced efficiency and even production downtime.
Solution: Unexpected downtime can be minimised through a well-organized asset management system. This system can detect early signs of wear or potential defects in equipment such as pumps or critical valves, enabling preventive maintenance to be performed. This ensures that the performance of the equipment – and of the heat pump – remains optimal.
Right from the initial design of the process, there are opportunities for effective asset management. By step-by-step and critically analysing the design aspects and making certain choices, maintenance can be carried out during normal operations. This includes decisions like making certain critical components redundant. Do not forget to consider the selection of valves. By opting for valves that function as block valves, components can be safely removed without having to take the main pipeline out of operation. Although these choices may initially lead to higher investments, they will pay off in the long run, both in terms of production certainty and safety.
Implementing an industrial heat pump? Follow these 10 steps
All in all, introducing an industrial heat pump can be challenging, but by being aware of the potential challenges and proactively addressing them, the implementation (and the subsequent period) can proceed smoothly.
Want to know all the ins and outs of this topic? Then be sure to read our whitepaper, where we outline how to integrate a heat pump into an industrial process.
Would you like to discuss this topic immediately? Please contact Serdar Erdag.
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