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Full steam ahead: High-temperature heat pumps provide process steam

When we talk about “full steam ahead”, certain industrial sectors take it literally: high-temperature process heat – especially in the form of steam – is essential for manufacturing, processing and refinement of numerous products. All too often, however, the heat generated in this way is only used once and then dissipates – reducing the cost-effectiveness of the entire process and worsening its energy efficiency.

Generating process steam from residual heat

Cost and efficiency optimization for numerous industries

In this article, we take a closer look at industries with a specific steam requirement in the temperature range of 100 to 200 degrees Celsius in order to highlight the available scope for cost and efficiency optimization. An overview of these sectors will highlight the key role that high-temperature heat pumps can play in meeting their thermal energy needs.

Food and beverage industry

In the food and beverage industry, every day processes take place that require the use of steam at temperatures between 100 and over 200 degrees Celsius with different steam qualities ranging from system steam to pure steam. These processes include:

  • Drying
  • Pasteurization
  • Sterilization
  • Cooking

Food processing companies often use steam to ensure the safety and consistent quality of perishable products such as dairy products, liquid eggs, juices, canned foods, prepared foods and many other packaged foods. These foods are usually pasteurized and/or preserved, i.e. heat-treated. Steam can even play a fundamental role in the drying of food: So-called "superheated steam" can be used to dry food and animal feed at temperatures of 120 to 180 degrees Celsius faster, more gently and more energy-efficiently than drying with hot air. Steam is also used in industrial kitchens, for example for cooking, blanching and heat treatment of ingredients on a large scale.

Here, high-temperature heat pumps offer an energy-efficient solution for generating steam at precise temperatures at low cost. This enables food manufacturers and processors to ensure consistently high product quality while significantly reducing energy consumption and operating costs compared to the one-off use of process heat.

Textile industry

In textile manufacturing, the use of steam has become an integral part of a wide variety of production processes. In fact, it plays a fundamental role in almost all areas of the textile industry. Steam is used in the following processes, among others:

  • Pretreatment
  • Dyeing
  • Printing
  • Finishing
  • Washing
  • Ironing

The textile industry uses steam, among other things, to apply heat and pressure to textile fibers to facilitate the penetration of cleaning agents, dyes, color-fixing and finishing agents. Textile factories usually require steam at temperatures of 100 to 150 degrees Celsius to achieve optimum results without damaging the fibers. The integration of high-temperature heat pumps to reuse process heat also increases process efficiency and reduces water consumption as well as the environmental impact – and of course costs.

Chemical and pharmaceutical industry

The chemical and pharmaceutical industries also use steam for a variety of applications, for example

  • Heating reactors
  • Evaporating solvents
  • Sterilizing plants and products
  • Distillation
  • Crystallization
  • Drying

In the chemical and pharmaceutical industry in particular, precise control of the applied temperatures is required to ensure the stability and purity of the resulting products. High-temperature heat pumps enable chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturers to precisely specify and maintain these temperatures. At the same time, heat pumps improve the cost-effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of entire plants by recycling the process heat – regardless of whether the process heat is used again for the same purpose or elsewhere.

Paper and pulp production

In the pulp and paper industry, steam is used at numerous points in the production of paper and other pulp-based products. These include

  • Cooking pulp
  • Drying paper
  • Sterilizing equipment

For paper mills, the use of steam at temperatures of 100 to 200 degrees Celsius is essential to facilitate pulping and the removal of water from pulp fibres, to dry paper products and to sterilize equipment to prevent mould growth. Often, however, nothing else happens with the residual heat that is still available – and this has consequences for the environment: the paper industry is one of the five most energy-intensive sectors in Germany. Here, high-temperature heat pumps can be an energy-efficient and economical alternative to conventional steam boilers. Pulp and paper processing companies can thus reduce the need for climate-damaging fossil fuels such as gas and thus their greenhouse gas emissions and operating costs in equal measure. Without, of course, jeopardizing product quality and production efficiency.

Conclusion: High-temperature heat pumps for generating and reusing process steam

Many industries that work with steam in the temperature range of 100 to 200 degrees Celsius rely on process heat from fossil sources to operate critical manufacturing processes. Against this background, innovative industrial heat pump technologies such as the ThermBoosters™ are becoming increasingly important: thanks to a special high-temperature piston compressor in conjunction with the existing process technology, the ThermBoosters™ can generate sufficiently high output temperatures of up to 200 degrees Celsius with which the required steam can be produced or reused – for the same or a different application. A multi-stage, modular design also makes it possible to cope with large temperature strokes. The technology is also designed to be retrofitted in existing systems. This reduces the energy requirement and therefore the costs and emissions intensity of the process in equal measure.

Our reference projects and best practice cases

If you would like to get a concrete idea of how the ThermBoosters™ can be used in an existing production process, please take a look at our project references:

We will be happy to advise you

Would you like to find out more about how to integrate the ThermBooster™ into your application? We would be happy to develop a solution for your company.

Geschäftsführer, Dr. Tim Hamacher
Managing Director

Dr. Tim Hamacher

Geschäftsführer, Andreas Mück
Managing Director

Andreas Mück

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