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Category Archives: Waste heat recovery

There is so much discussion about Hydrogen as a source of clean energy because, it is the choice of Nature. Nature has provided us with fossil fuels which are Hydrocarbons, chemically represented by CxHy, Carbon and Hydrogen atoms. In the absence of Hydrogen in a Hydrocarbon, it is nothing but Carbon, which is an inert material. The Hydrocarbon gets its heating value only from the presence Hydrogen atom. The natural gas, now considered as the cleanest form of Hydrocarbon is represented by the chemical formula CH4, containing 25% Hydrogen by weight basis. It represents the largest Carbon to Hydrogen ratio at 1:4.This is the highest in any organic chemicals. In aromatic organic compounds such as Benzene, represented by C6H6, the Hydrogen content is only 7.69%.Even in Sugar which is an organic compound from Nature, represented chemically as C12H22O11 has only 8.27% Hydrogen. But Bioethanol, derived from sugar represented by C2H5OH has almost 13% Hydrogen.  Ethyl Alcohol known as ‘Bioethanol’ derived from sugar is blended with Gasoline (Hydrocarbon), for using as a fuel in cars in countries like Brazil. Brazil is the only country that does not depend on imported Gasoline for their cars. The same Bioethanol can also be derived from Corn starch. But the starch should first be converted into sugar before alcohol is derived; that is why it is more expensive to produce Bioethanol from starch than from cane sugar molasses. The climatic conditions of Brazil are more favorable for growing Cane sugar than corn.  Brazil is in a more advantageous position than North America, when it comes to Bioethanol. US is one of the largest consumer of Gasoline.US has imported 11.5 million barrels/day of oil in 2010.It has used 138.5 billion gallons of Gasoline (3.30billion barrels) in 2010) according to EIA. (US Energy Information Administration) It is estimated that Brazil’s sugar based Alcohol is 30% cheaper than US’s corn-based Alcohol. Brazil has successfully substituted Gasoline with locally produced alcohol .They also introduced ‘flexible fuel vehicles’ that can use various blends of Alcohol-Gasoline. Most of the Gasoline used in US has 10% Ethanol blend called E10 and E15, representing the percentage of Alcohol content in Gasoline. Brazil is the largest producers of Bioethanol in the world. Both Brazil and US account for 87.8% of Bioethanol production in the world in 2010 and 87.1% in 2011.Brazil is using Bioethanol blends of various proportions such as E20/E25/E100 (anhydrous alcohol) (Ref: Wikipedia). Almost all cars in Brazil use Bioethanol blended Gasoline and even 100% anhydrous Bioethanol are used for cars. Brazil has set an example as a ‘sustainable economy introducing alternative fuel’ to the rest of the world. The ‘bagasse’ from cane sugar is also used as a fuel as well in the production of ‘Biogas’, which helps Brazil to meet sustainability on renewable energy and greenhouse gas mitigation. The above example is a clear demonstration of sustainability because natural organic material such as sugar is the basic building block by which we can build our Sustainable clean energy of the future. The same Bioethnanol can easily be reformed for the production of Hydrogen gas to generate power and run Fuel cell cars. Many companies are trying to use chemicals such as metal Hydrides as a source of Hydrogen. For example, one company successfully demonstrated using Sodium Borohydride for Hydrogen production. Many companies are trying to find alternative sources of Hydrogen generation from water, including Photo-electrolysis using direct solar light and special photo catalyst materials. We know Nature produces sugar by using sun’s light, water and carbon dioxide from air by photosynthetic process. Can man duplicate this natural process and generate Hydrogen at the fraction of the cost by simply using water and sun’s light? The race is already on and only time can tell whether our pursuit for cheap and clean Hydrogen can become a commercial reality or just stay as an elusive dream.

Do you use a generator that runs on diesel or gas to power your business due to frequent power outage from the grid? Are you running an air-conditioner with the grid power? Then you must look for waste heat recovery system to improve your energy efficiency and save your fuel cost. You can also use roof top solar hot water to supplement waste heat recovery. The savings may be real and you may be able to recover your investment in a short period and also contribute for the reduction of greenhouse emissions.

The diesel or gas engine converts only most 30% of fuel input in the form of thermal energy into mechanical energy to run your generator, and the balance heat is wasted in the form of greenhouse gas. You can recover this heat and increase the efficiency of the system. This means for the same amount of diesel used, you will get much higher output in the form of heating or cooling or in the form of additional electricity.

The exhaust temperature from a gas engine is about 420C.You can also recover extra heat from jacket cooling. Let us assume that you have a natural gas-fired engine to generate 100kw electricity for the premises. The efficiency of such spark ignited reciprocating gas engines are typically about 30%, which means a natural gas input of 1.145 mm Btu/hr. Let us assume the cost of piped natural gas at $10 per mm Btu; the fuel cost will be about $ 11.45/hr.

The exhaust heat from the engine will be about 801,500 Btu/hr; with waste heat recovery efficiency at 75%, the heat recovery will be 601,125 Btu/hr.You can air-condition premises with an area of 35-40 square meters using this recovered waste heat. If you use grid power   at the rate of $0.10/kwhr, to run the air conditioning system for the above area, you will be spending about 30,000kwhrs of electricity per month, costing about $ 3000 per month. By installing an absorption chiller to air-condition your premises using engine exhaust heat, you will be saving about $36,000 per year towards air-conditioning. The air-conditioning system may cost about $130,000, and with the above savings you will be able to get a return on your investment in less than 3 years.

If you have a roof-top solar water heater then you can supplement it with your engine exhaust heat water so that the capacity of the air-conditioning can be increased. It is one of the best methods by which an energy efficiency of a fossil felled engine can be increased. If the capacity of the engine is much higher, there are other methods by which the efficiency can be increased.

For example, the hot water from the exhaust system can be used to generate some extra power using an ORC, organic Rankin cycle. It is similar to a steam turbine. An organic liquid with low boiling point will be evaporated into vapor by a low heat source such as hot water from engine exhaust, which runs a turbine, generating some extra power and condensing back into the liquid, and then the cycle continues. You will be able to generate an extra electricity of about 15-18% making the total electrical efficiency of the system  to 45-50%, which is similar to a Fuel cell system, but at a much lower cost.

Heat recovery system with an absorption chilling and using low heat source to generate extra power using ORC, are best methods to improve energy efficiency of an existing system with little investment. The purpose of such integration is to increase the energy efficiency of the existing system, so that you will be getting more output of energy from the same input of fuel.

 

 

 

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