Tackling industrial decarbonization with energy-efficient technologies

Picture of Ángel Palacios Romero
Ángel Palacios Romero

Product Management Specialist CSV

The industrial sector is increasingly becoming the main source of CO2 emissions, and its decarbonization is crucial for limiting global temperature rise. The significance of energy efficiency will continue to increase as there is a demand to meet industrial carbon footprint goals and achieve long-term sustainable development objectives. Innovations will be the key to decarbonizing industry, especially in high-temperature heat applications.

Energy efficiency is a crucial pillar in the framework of the energy transition. This approach sets itself apart from the common trend of resource generation increase, instead focusing on optimizing the utilization of existing resources.

Energy efficiency in industry consists of using the least possible amount of heat, work, or electrical energy to complete each industrial sector’s processes. In other words, the objective is to reduce energy consumption per unit produced.

Energy efficiency - the path to profitability

A correct application of energy efficiency principles in the industrial field is essential to ensure a company’s sustainability. Especially in the current environment of rising prices since applying or not energy efficiency measures can make the difference between profitability and economic losses of a company.

Although energy efficiency has traditionally been seen as a purely environmental tool, it is now understood as another instrument for achieving competitive advantages (in conjunction with productivity gains).

Scientific evidence in the environmental field suggests that energy efficiency measures can lead to a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 10% in most industries, as stated by Danfoss – the Danish family-owned engineering group of companies.

At the macroeconomic level, the research that is currently available indicates that investments in energy efficiency will have a significant beneficial impact on GDP. This encourages the European Green Pact and the European Union’s (EU) post-Covid 19 economic recovery policy to make increasing energy efficiency in the industry one of their goals and foundations. 

At the microeconomic level, the productivity of industrial enterprises is impacted, particularly in the industries that are energy-intensive industries.

Heat losses – "The hidden fuel"

The first principle of thermodynamics states that energy is neither created nor destroyed. It is simply transformed. This is perhaps one of the most powerful laws discovered that governs the behaviour of our universe. In industrial processes, these energy transformations are of different types, for example, the energy stored in a fuel source can be used to move an engine or transformed into work, but it can also be converted into heat and used to heat a substance.

The issue is that never 100% of the energy we generate cannot be entirely converted into the desired form, leading to what we refer to as energy losses. Energy losses are inevitable and present in all processes, but higher or lower percentages can make a big difference in a company’s financial results.

Recent studies from IEA, the International Energy Agency, show that residual heat is the most significant source of energy waste, the so-called “hidden fuel”. Every year 2860 TWh of heat is wasted, which is more than the demand for hot water and heating systems in Europe for residential and service buildings.

The technical study titled “The World’s largest untapped energy source: Excess Heat” examines the potential of surplus heat as an effective energy source. The IEA estimates that, in comparison to existing policies, the worldwide push for more energy efficiency can reduce CO2 emissions by an additional five gigatons per year by 2030. According to the IEA’s net zero scenarios, increases in energy efficiency account for one-third of the required decrease in energy-related CO2 emissions in this decade.

Improving energy efficiency has the potential to save 67 500 million euros yearly in the EU, which would avoid the consumption of 30 million petrol drums or 650 000 m³ of natural gas (four times the imported amount by UE from Russia in 2021).

It may come as a surprise, but there aren’t many energy efficiency technologies that focus on thermal energy. Most of the technologies in this field are geared towards electrical power, which only accounts for about 40% of total energy consumption, while thermal energy makes up the remaining 60%.

Kurita Dropwise Condensation Technology – A new way to optimize processes

Play Video about Dropwise condensation

Kurita Dropwise Condensation Technology was created in this context, aligning with the sustainable development goals and the Kurita principles.

The Kurita Dropwise Condensation Technology is a valuable tool for companies across various sectors, enabling them to enhance heat transfer processes through condensation while minimizing losses.

Thanks to its hydrophobic nature, this technology increases the thermal conductivity of heat-conducting materials by changing from a film-wise condensation mechanism to dropwise condensation, allowing the energy to be transferred optimally and avoiding essential losses due to the water film.

Condensation processes are present in all kinds of industrial sectors, being in some of them a critical factor for the operation of the production process.

Therefore, in this type of industry, Dropwise saves energy and can make a difference between operating or not in periods in which specific conditions affect the rest of the parameters, solving crucial bottlenecks.

When it comes to improving energy efficiency in the industrial sector, the focus is often on technical advancements. This is seen as an investment opportunity, which is evaluated based on factors such as payback period (typically 5-10 years) and potential cashflow analysis. Predictions of energy prices potentially saved during the post-investment period are used to calculate the payback and cashflow potential.

However, calculating the success of an investment is often a difficult task. It carries a risk associated with the unpredictability of these prices in the current global context in which the energy sector is undergoing a significant transformation and is greatly affected by the socio-political context.

The main advantage of Kurita Dropwise Condensation Technology against other energy efficiency improvements is that the payback starts immediately after the chemical is dosed, and the initial investment is low.

In conclusion, optimizing heat transfer processes is an essential aspect of achieving sustainable development objectives, with immense environmental, social, and economic potential.

The Kurita Dropwise Condensation Technology belongs to those innovations that will drive us through this path, allowing companies to improve their production process efficiently with low initial investment, avoiding the risk of making complex predictions. 

Share this article

Share on LinkedIn
Share on Twitter