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Managing heat to keep energy consumption down

​Energy efficiency for industrial processes:

Published on 6 October 2016

At Liten, we have been investigating energy efficiency for industrial processes for 35 years, with a specific focus on how heat can be managed to lower energy consumption by:

  • reducing the amount of energy initially injected into each process,
  • using techniques like waste-heat recovery to ensure that all the energy injected into each process is used, or
  • introducing renewable resources.


We develop innovative energy-efficiency technologies for industrial processes and also provide consulting services for targeted improvements. Our tech development and consulting services can be used separately or together. Both are backed by Liten’s legendary know-how in fluid mechanics, heat transfer, chemistry, and simulation, plus hands-on experience building and implementing prototypes and demonstrator systems.

BENEFITS


Reduced environmental impact and cost

  • Reduced consumption of electricity and fossil-based energy
  • More efficient systems
  • Lower operating costs
  • Better equipment performance


PROJECTS


Here are a few examples of technologies developed at Liten:

  • Renewable heat production: the heat-pipe thermal collector.

This solar collector system is based on a technology patented by the CEA and is designed for heat networks and low-temperature (80°C to 120°C) industrial processes. The system’s heat pipes were developed in conjunction with startup SAED and transferred to heating specialist Viessmann. It offers the advantage of being easy to install (the heat-transfer fluid does not enter the receiver tube; the different components are simply assembled and the system is ready to operate) and cost-effective (there are no mirrors like in Fresnel-type concentrators). Fresnel-type concentrators can, however, be used for renewable heat production for industrial processes requiring higher temperatures.

  • Waste-heat recovery for cold production.

Our researchers have designed a water-ammonia absorption refrigeration unit to recycle thermal solar panel waste heat into building air conditioning. The system is now being developed at larger capacities (100 kW to 1 MW) with the goal of recovering low-temperature (80°C) waste heat for industrial cooling (around 0°C). It uses ten times less electricity than traditional evaporative cooling via mechanical vapor compression, and three to four times less ammonia than the technologies currently available on the market. The system is in use at Ines (the French national solar energy institute) to provide air conditioning for offices, and is ready for market release. A partnership agreement with a manufacturer for high-power (100 kW and up) rollout is on the drawing board.

  • Heat exchanger/reactors (HEX reactors).

There are many chemical reactions (either exothermic or endothermic) that require or release heat when the reagents are at a given temperature. For the past several years, our researchers have been developing a new technology to produce these reactions continuously inside a heat exchanger. This would make it possible to either inject or disperse heat as needed. This HEX reactor research has resulted in the development of a system specifically for power-to-gas electricity storage: waste carbon dioxide from industrial processes is combined with hydrogen and converted into methane gas. A small industrial-scale prototype will be built and tested in the coming years. This type of equipment is much more compact than the technologies currently in use, making them an attractive alternative in terms of cost.

Our science and technology research includes:

  • Heat-exchanger fouling.

For several years, we have been using lab experiments and simulation to investigate how solid particles are deposited onto heat-exchanger components in industrial processes. The purpose of this research, in part conducted by PhD candidates, is to understand the phenomena that underpin fouling; these insights will help to predict fouling and develop appropriate solutions, from selecting the right equipment to adjusting operating conditions. Fouling can generate costs that far exceed the savings recycling waste heat can bring, so finding ways to prevent it is crucial. We are currently working with Total on a specific case (oil & gas industry process fluids) using experimental equipment built for this purpose in Grenoble.

  • Industrial heat consulting services.

At Liten, we provide simulations and build experimental equipment that can be used to research different cooling technologies. These help ensure equipment for which adding or removing heat is fundamental will operate as intended. Some examples are electronic equipment—LEDs, circuit boards, EV battery packs—where, due to increased miniaturization, cooling can raise challenges.

  • Early-stage research.

We also conduct early-stage research, either as part of Liten’s own research programs or as part of PhD research projects conducted in partnership with businesses. Topics include:
o    Intensification of heat transfer using ultrasound
o    Two-phase flows and flow tracking in wave-plate heat exchangers with partner Fives Cryo
o    Numerical modeling and laboratory validation of condensation phenomena in an immersed vertical tube with partner DCNS

FACTS AND FIGURES

  • ​Around 20 researchers
  • 55 patents
  • Publications: 

Théron F, Anxionnaz-Minvielle Z, Cabassud M, Gourdon C, Tochon P. August 2014. Characterization of the performances of an innovative heat-exchanger/reactor. Chemical Engineering and Processing: Process Intensification 82: 30–41.

Ben Saad S, Clément P, Fourmigué JF, Gentric C, Leclerc JP. December 2012. Single phase pressure drop and two-phase distribution in an offset strip fin compact heat exchanger. Applied Thermal Engineering 49: 99–105.

Bertossi R, Caney N, Gruss JA, Poncelet O. February 2015. Pool boiling enhancement using switchable polymers coating. Applied Thermal Engineering 77: 121–126.

Hemery CV, Pra F, Robin JF, Marty P. December 2014. Experimental performances of a battery thermal management system using a phase change material. Journal of Power Sources 270: 349–358.

Khaophone D, Miscevic M, Fourmigué JF, Pouvreau J, Melot V. April 26–30, 2015. Steam suction and direct-contact condensation in partially submerged vertical pipe – adiabatic study. 9th International Conference on Boiling and Condensation Heat Transfer, Boulder, Colorado.


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