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Industrial processes to be electrified

An ambitious research project wants to find electric solutions to replace heat treatment in for instance the food industry and in laundries.
12 September 2018

The Danish energy system is increasingly based on electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, and in a couple of decades, it will run almost completely on electricity. Companies account for a fifth of our total energy consumption. There is therefore great interest in finding solutions which can contribute to converting the industry’s energy consumption into electricity – even in areas where it is not all that simple.

“Some Danish companies use fossil fuels to ensure heating processes. This could be in breweries, slaughterhouses, or laundries, where high temperatures or steam is a necessary part of the production process,” says Fabian Bühler, researcher at DTU Mechanical Engineering.

The researchers will work closely with some of the companies that need new solutions if they want to switch their production to electric processes. Among others, these are De Forenede Dampvaskerier (DFD), Danish Crown, Hydro Precision, Tubing Tønder, and SAN Electro Heat.

“The project is exciting for us for several reasons. The cost of energy represents a relatively large expense for our company, so we’re always looking to optimize on the front. In addition, we’re very interested in how green energy can become an increasingly important part of our total energy supply,” says Christian Lind-Holm Kuhnt, Head of DFD.

DTU industrial process electricity energy fullwidth 1 - Industrial processes to be electrified

Mapping and new solutions

In the course of the next two years, the project will map the energy consumption in the participating companies’ current processes and subsequently examine whether it can be solved by means of heat pumps, electric heating, or a combination of the two. Solutions will be developed to replace current ones – and new integrated production processes will be explored in which surplus heat is used.

“The goal is to contribute with new solutions that can replace the current processes as electrification is introduced. We’ll also look at whether the existing processes can be optimized by questioning the way in which energy is currently used to produce the company’s product,” explains Fabian Bühler. Working closely with a university for long-term and strategic tasks is new to DFD.

“We make our production and energy consumption available for research in this project, and in turn, we hope to get a better understanding of what is technically possible when we’ll carry out a major electrification of our laundry in the future. In addition, we expect to get a new network, both at the University and among the other participating companies, with whom we can exchange experiences on sustainable energy,” says Christian Lind-Holm Kuhnt.

The project is funded by Elforsk, Danish Energy’s research and development programme. The idea is that the project will create a foundation for a future national strategy for the electrification of Danish companies.

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DFD (photo)