Steam is an efficient and effective energy medium which is widely used in industry worldwide to produce everything from food to chemicals to paper and building materials.
Who needs steam?
Various industry sectors, such as food processing, brewing & beverage, dairy, pharmaceuticals, chemicals & building materials, require steam in their processes. The consumers don’t often realise it, but the products we use daily, often go through processes utilising high temperatures. Let’s have a look at some examples.
One might start the day with a cup of coffee. The coffee beans are roasted by the producer – and this roasting is typically done by using steam to heat up the roasting oven. If you pour some milk into your coffee – the pasteurisation process needed to stabilise the milk and some juices requires steam, too. The dying process of your clothes, the manufacturing of the furniture – it all needs steam. After all, we use a lot of industrially processed or manufactured products all the time and we hardly ever think about the energy needed to make them.
What are these factories like & how they could reduce their energy consumption?
Typically, the factories producing the goods mentioned above are relatively small. There is no “dairy of the UK” or “beer brewery of Germany”, but many smaller, more local facilities. Yet they do represent a vast amount energy we consume. Per the German Energy Agency, process heat is the most energy intensive application field by covering 64% of industrial total final energy consumption. On the other hand, process steam (between 100 and 500 °C) accounts for 21% of industrial final energy consumption in EU.
So, this industry does consume a lot of energy, but they have a great savings potential too. For example, the German CHP association estimates that steam-CHP technology targeted at the small scale and SME industry can reduce fuel consumption up to 40% by enhancing efficiency and allowing the use of a range of different, also renewable fuels. Furthermore, in 2015 the International Energy Agency estimated that up to 30% of the total energy consumed by small scale process and the SME industry could be saved by the adoption of cost-effective energy saving strategies including CHP. Comparing these numbers to the energy consumption, the total savings potential is least to say substantial.
Table. Total U.S. CHP technical potential across all facility types (Report by U.S. Department of Energy, 2016)
Why it hasn’t been done earlier?
Cogeneration is “business as usual” in large factories like pulp & paper mills, oil refineries, etc. These sites can utilise for example large industrial gas turbines coupled with steam boilers to provide power & heat for the process. On the other hand, smaller sites in need of warm water can utilise gas engines. The problem occurs, when you need industrial heat (steam) and relatively small amount of power (typically less than 2 MW) – there are hardly any technologies available for this.
What has Aurelia to offer?
Aurelia’s turbines have been developed to provide solutions for industrial customers, especially in need of steam and power in relatively small scale. We believe our product is the first efficient small scale gas turbine in the whole world. To give one example here; Aurelia’s turbine design incorporates active magnet bearings which mean that the turbine has practically no limitation in exhaust back-pressure. This helps a lot to design the steam cycle without any need of additional fans or blowers.
The turbines can be coupled with steam boilers two different ways; either as pre-heaters of the boiler’s own burners or in combination with duct burner and heat recovery steam boiler. The principles are shown in the images below.
Both installations are combined with high efficiency and very wide & flexible operation windows. This also helps the end-customer to match both the power and heat output to the that-time demand of the site.