Condugo’s €1 million pilot project in (petro)chemical sector

Condugo, a specialist in energy management with offices in Antwerp and Brussels, has developed a solution tailored to large-scale industry with its Energy Hub software. The Flemish Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Vlaio) has awarded support to Condugo for the start-up of a €1 million pilot project within the (petro)chemical sector.

The project should enable companies in this sector to meet the European climate and energy targets (Green Deal) and to come through this transition unscathed. For many companies, the energy transition represents a major challenge.

The greatest challenge of the coming decades will undoubtedly be trying to mitigate climate change. Concepts such as “Energy Policy Agreement” and “Emission Trading System” have been created to monitor and reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions in order to achieve increasingly stringent climate targets. They reward companies that take measures to reduce their consumption and strictly monitor the further annual reductions.

“However, especially for the large process industry, this is not straightforward. Most companies have executed the most obvious energy savings measures over the past years. Now everyone gets stuck in the next steps. These require a much deeper understanding of how the energy flows on a site behave, and that knowledge is rarely available,” says Xavier De Moor, ceo of Condugo.

Transparency in energy flows

That’s why Condugo developed the Energy Hub. This software offers industrial companies complete transparency into their energy flows, enabling them to focus on reducing emissions, increasing efficiency and making more targeted and sustainable investments. The first version was developed with major players from the pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries, among others.

Last year, Condugo launched a project to make the Energy Hub also suitable for the (petro)chemical industry. In this environment, complex process and energy flows play the leading role par excellence. After a rigorous selection process, the proposal was awarded a ‘Seal of Excellence’ by the European Commission for its innovative character and major impact on the climate. Vlaio then decided to grant Condugo support for 2 years.

Borealis as a partner in pilot project

This €1 million pilot project will further expand the capabilities of the Energy Hub software, provide an investment toolkit, and test everything out on a number of pilot sites. The aim of the project is to enable the (petro)chemical industry to meet all climate targets in a sustainable, convincing and economically responsible manner. With Borealis, Condugo already found a first partner to cooperate in the pilot project.

“We have been working for years on sustainability and emissions at our plants. You can see the results in the continuous improvements. To keep them going, we now need to get a much more detailed grasp of our energy flows. Condugo’s pilot project offers us that opportunity, which is why we are happy to be a pilot site,” says Thibaud Van Lindt, energy manager for Belgium and the Netherlands at Borealis.

“With this project we have the key to open the black box that a chemical plant often is. The partnership with an innovative company like Borealis is an important step. We want to build on that, but our ambitions reach further,” emphasizes Xavier De Moor.

Looking for additional pilot sites

Condugo is looking for additional partners to act as pilot sites for this project for at least one year. In concrete terms, this involves analyzing energy flows and systematically following them up. “Participants receive a lot of added value in the form of personalized analyses, permanent follow-up by our specialists and access to state-of-the-art software. In return, we ask for regular input and feedback on the functioning of the platform, further improvements and possibilities to integrate it into existing systems. It should be a win-win for all parties,” says Xavier De Moor.

CCESG 2021 is an ideal platform for keeping up with advances and changes to a consistently morphing field.

Energie Nederland organiseert een reeks ontbijtsessies over het energiesysteem van de toekomst. Op 23 maart van 8.00 tot 11.00 uur staat het onderwerp ‘een schone industrie in 2050’ op het programma.

The development of technologies and devices for heat integration has gained momentum in recent years. With the help of Findest, the Institute for Sustainable Process Technology made an overview of the heat (re-)use and storage technologies including their relevant characteristics and links to literature and suppliers. This overview, made in 2019 for the members of the ISPT Heat Integration Platform, has now been made publicly available on the ISPT website. It includes heat exchangers, heat pumps, heat transformers, heat buffer and storage technologies and other heat conversion technologies.

Many new technologies and components have been developed, both by research institutes as by a growing number of suppliers of heat integration technologies. Within the Heat Integration Platform of the Institute for Sustainable Process Technology (ISPT), innovation and practice are actively linked. In fact, heat is the biggest energy consumer for many companies in the agri-food, paper, chemical, horticultural and food sectors.

Reaching a carbon neutral heat supply for all temperature levels is key in realizing a circular process industry by 2050. This can only be done when innovative heat technologies get vastly integrated in industrial processes. With the help of Findest ISPT managed to map all technologies that are both readily available and under development. By making this overview publicly available, ISPT helps accelerate the spreading of this knowledge and the application of innovative technologies across various industries and disciplines.

Access each section of the overview here:

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To achieve a fully circular economy we will have to be able to close our material and also our energy loops. Re-using, storing and upgrading energy is an essential part of creating a sustainable system. In the industry a large part of the energy usage comes in the form of heat. The Flexsteam project focuses on a cost-efficient heat storage technology to make heat storage more accessible for industry. Heat storage is an important element in improving the process energy efficiency, facilitating to incorporate larger shares of fluctuating renewable energy, and for the integration of heat pumps in industrial processes. By focusing on the efficiency of processes as well as replacing fossil resources with renewable ones we will be able to greatly reduce the industrial sectors’ dependence on fossil energy, and reduce the CO2 emissions.

The Flexsteam project is focused on the development of a cost-effective Phase Change Material (PCM) heat storage technology as a key component for more sustainable industrial heat system. The activities are targeted at the development of a modular, high temperature heat storage system for the production of process heat and process steam. A laboratory prototype system of PCM based heat storage will be developed and will be tested under conditions representative for selected industrial processes. The techno-economic feasibility of the PCM based thermal storage concept will be assessed for industrial applications.

100% renewable energy system

The storage of energy is an important cornerstone of the future 100% renewable energy system to match the varying supply of renewable resources with the demand for energy. With thermal energy being the most used form of energy in industry, thermal energy storage can play a crucial role in matching energy supply and demand in industry, and improving the energy efficiency of processes.

Heat storage can be achieved relatively cheap by using so called ‘Phase Changing Materials’ or PCMs. Often a composition of salts or organic materials, PCMs change from solid to liquid and in the process store latent heat, which is released again in the reverse process of phase change from liquid to solid. Using this principle can store a lot of heat at a fairly constant temperature in a small volume.

The technology that is being developed will be used for the recovery and re-use of industrial excess heat, directly as well as indirectly through the use of heat pumps. Apart from that it will also be possible to increase the implementation rates of sustainable heat sources like geothermal and solar energy to generate process heat.

Technical development

Applications for thermal storage are identified within the processes at Tata Steel and at DOW. At Tata Steel the thermal storage is to be integrated in a waste heat recovery application, to generate steam. The storage system creates additional energy and cost savings by covering the mismatch between waste heat supply and steam demand. A dynamic simulation of the thermal storage system was done to calculate these annual savings, and will be used as a tool for further optimizing the sizing of the storage system.

The design of the laboratory prototype system is based on a conventional shell & tube concept, where the tubes consist of the PCM filled elements, closely stacked together. The PCM thermal system will be thermally charged by applying steam to the outside of the tubes, heating them above the melting temperature. In discharge mode hot water is circulated along the tubes, which will transfer their heat to generate steam again. The prototype design is finished and construction has started.

Phase changing material (PCM) heat storage installation

Outlook

The first tests of the system will start in the first quarter of 2021. Initial tests will be used to characterize the thermal performance in terms of storage capacity and heat transfer rates. Various operating conditions will be applied and results will be used to validate the thermal system model of the prototype system.

The test results and performance chart will also be used as input for calculating the techno-economic feasibility in the considered applications at Tata Steel and DOW. When the results are successfully obtained the next step is to develop a pilot project for on-site testing.

The FLEXSTEAM project consortium exists of TNO (project coordinator), ISPT, Royal Cosun, DOW, TataSteel B.V, Blue Terra and Bronswerk.

This project is co-funded with subsidy from the Topsector Energy by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.

The industry is a large consumer of energy and about two-thirds of the industry’s energy use is represented by heat. Often high-temperature heat is required, which is currently provided by burning natural gas. However, for industry to meet the climate goals we will need to move to low-carbon heating systems. One way to achieve this is by implementing high temperature heat pumps. These heat pumps, however, are not yet commercially available. The COMTA project proposes to start using the electrically driven thermoacoustic heat pump (TA) for industrial purposes. COMPTA works to to further develop the compact TA pump technology and prepares for technical demonstration on full scale.

The electrically driven thermoacoustic heat pump can deliver heat of up to 200°C and it can cover a very wide range of temperatures with a fixed standardized design. Because it is electrically driven, it will become completely carbon free once fully renewable electricity supplies have become a reality in the future.

Feasibility of compact thermoacoustic heat pump

The COMTA project aims to experimentally demonstrate the feasibility of the compact thermoacoustic heat pump utilizing the COMTA bench scale test set-up. Major developments in COMTA are the use of an industrial piston compressor as driver and the strongly reduced dimensions of the pressure vessel (no resonator has been applied). Both developments will reduce future investment costs of the heat pump.

First results

The COMTA heat pump is electrically driven by means of an adapted piston compressor. The thermoacoustic heat pump is mounted on the compressor skid and installed at TNO Petten. The COMTA heat pump set-up is commissioned in March 2020 and initial successful tests series have been executed including recent tests with saturated steam delivery at 168 °C.

These first COMTA test results are unique and demonstrate the working principle of the compact design with a piston compressor as driver.

Outlook

The thermoacoustic heat pump part originates from a previous test setup (TASTE) and this part will be optimized for the COMTA conditions. A large increase of thermal output is expected by an increase of the working pressure, optimized heat exchangers and a new regenerator suitable for the lower frequency. In this case even higher steam delivery temperatures up to 200 °C will become a possibility. The measurement of the mechanical power delivery by the piston will give insight in system losses and guidance for further improvements.

This project is co-funded with subsidy from the Topsector Energy by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.

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Wat heeft u aan een EED energie-audit, wat zijn de alternatieven en hoe kunt u de EED verplichtingen aanpakken? U leert de ins en outs tijdens ons gratis webinar van 25 juni 2021.

The year is almost over. It was an unusual year in which we learned that our capabilities are beyond what we ever thought.

We can simultaniously work from home, teach our children and maintain contact with our network. Admittedly, it was not easy. But it has made us realize that we are capable of more than we sometimes think.

Due to this strange time, digitization has accelerated. We started with online meetings, and shortly afterwards we initiated the online panel discussion Industrie in Gesprek. Little did we know at the time that we would be hosting many more major events later this year – all fully online.

The annual ISPT Conference, the GigaWatt webinar and the NPS17 webinar series are a few examples of how we have been able to connect with you, our network. We really enjoyed that and we want to thank you for your involvement. We hope to continue this contact in 2021 and hopefully soon there will be opportunities to see each other in person once again.

Overview

Due to covid-19 the Netherlands Process Technology Symposium, that was to be held at the TU Delft this year and organized by TU Delft with support of ISPT, had to be postponed to 2021. But since climate change does not wait, the event is replaced by a series of four webinars in November with the overarching theme of ‘Sustaining the Future’.

Explore the webinars

Due to covid-19 the Netherlands Process Technology Symposium, that was to be held at the TU Delft this year and organized by TU Delft with support of ISPT, had to be postponed to 2021. But since climate change does not wait, the event is replaced by a series of four webinars in November with the overarching theme of ‘Sustaining the Future’. The first webinar went online on Wednesday November 4 and is focused on energy.

Moderator

Annita
Westenbroek

ISPT

Keynote

Adrie
Huesman

Shell, TU Delft

Solar fuel

The energy webinar is moderated by ISPT’s Annita Westenbroek, who kicks off the webinar by shortly introducing the keynote speaker: professor Adrie Huesman. His research concentrates on new challenges of solar fuel plants. The term solar fuel generally refers to synthetic chemical fuels, produced from solar energy and water, carbon dioxide or nitrogen as raw materials. Examples are methanol, ethylene, hydrocarbons and ammonia.

Huesman starts with the challenges of solar fuel plants. ‘It is often assumed that raw materials and utilities are always available. That is not true for renewable energy, which is only available on an intermittent basis.’ He identifies three important R&D questions: how to frame operation mode selection of a solar fuel plant, how to determine the best operation mode for a solar fuel plant, and which factors determine or influence the operation of a solar fuel plant.

There are two extreme modes of operation that can be foreseen: firstly coupled, wherein the methanol process follows the solar profile, which results into a highly dynamic operation. The other is decoupled: the methanol process runs independent from the solar profile, ‘because somehow the battery storage is capable of maintaining a steady state operation.’ Both extremes have pros and cons. With coupled operation you don’t need a battery storage, you have a higher overall efficiency, and there is no effect round trip efficiency of the battery. The pros of decoupled are the steady state operation, but also a high process equipment utilization, because according to Huesman you don’t need any overdesign. ‘That is not the case with coupled operation, wherein your design capacity needs to be twice your average capacity, because at night you are not producing anything and you have to compensate for that.’

Solution

The problem can be solved by simplifying the solar plant in two steps. The first: view the solar plant as an energy storage ánd conversion network. The second: ‘I can lump the storage and conversion dynamics by using Single Input Single Output energy transfer functions. Then I can form what is known as an optimal control problem. This problem can be solved by using the simultaneous approach.’ Huesman’s next slide shows the result: a diagram of time and hours, that contains the maximum intensity of the sun, the way the methanol process reacts to it, the charge needed in the battery, and the curve on how the methanol tank fills over time. ‘From an economic point of view coupled operation is preferred. But in order to maintain operation in a plant like this you need a substantial battery system. To give you a feel for it: a battery that is twenty-five times bigger than a Tesla battery.’

Huesman ends his presentation with one of the main challenges: how to reduce the cost of solar fuels. He sees three ways to do that. ‘We can look for better materials that increase the efficiency of solar cells. We can also develop a prototype with better integration and intensification. And if we scale up to the highest level we can also benefit from the economic advantages of scaling up, which leads to a reduction in the costs.’

Panel

Niels
Deen

TU Eindhoven

Tim
Offermans

Radboud University Nijmegen

Simon
Jagers

Semiotic Labs

Panel discussion

Huesman joins the panel with Niels Deen (TU Eindhoven), Simon Jagers (Semiotics Lab) and Tim Offermans (Radboud University). They will discuss three multiple choice questions. The first is about the main motivation for the energy transition. Westenbroek asks Offermans if it matters. He thinks it does, because you have to convince the people on the street first. Jagers says that he would have chosen something that is not in the poll, namely the political unrest due to lack of fuels. ‘We just had an election wherein one candidate is vehemently against the energy transition.’ Huesman chooses increasing energy demand due to growing population and wealth. He points out that our part of the world is fortunate, but that isn’t the case for the rest of the world. Deen’s choice is mitigating global warming, which he considers the biggest threat to the Netherlands due to rising sea levels.

“Implementing the technology that is already available is also an imporant option.”


Simon Jagers, Semiotic Labs

The second question concerns the main challenge for the transition. The answers range from citizens not willing to change their habits, the expenses, the intermittency of sources, and lock-in effects. Huesman explains the latter as deciding on a solution early and regret it later. Westenbroek remarks that the high scoring answers all relate to costs. Huesmans adds that the costs of global warming will be much greater. Attendee Kroeze mentions he misses the energy density as one of the poll options. Deen, who specializes in metal fuels, chimes in: ‘The good news about metal fuels is that it is extremely dense. You can store an enormous amount of energy in a very small volume.’

It’s time for the last question about the future energy use of industrial plants. A majority believes that intensifying technologies to make production processes more energy-efficient are most important. It’s also Offermans’ choice: ‘Building new plants is not very good for the environment.’ Deen disagrees, he thinks it is better to decarbonize, ‘because we will run out of fossil fuels.’ He goes with the option to electrify everything. Jagers adds another answer: ‘Implementing the technology that is already available is also an imporant option.’ The final point is made by attendee Peter Daudey: the impossibility of estimating the costs at this time. Westenbroek answers that those depend on what our government is willing to stimulate.

Watch the full session here

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