Every day, manufacturers around the world rely on thousands of energy-intensive processes in order to produce their goods.
Vast amounts of energy are expended in heating, cooling, and drying a wide array of different chemical and food solids before they are even ready to be used as raw materials, and factory production lines often use even more energy to create the products their customers will eventually purchase.
What happens to all this energy once it has been used? In many cases, excess energy is simply diffused and lost because manufacturers lack the equipment necessary to convert it into reusable forms that would allow it to be recycled back into the plant’s energy grid.
This loss doesn’t just represent an economic inefficiency that impacts the manufacturer’s bottom line; it also leads to a larger carbon footprint, and, viewed cumulatively, can have a devastating impact on the environment. For this reason, energy storage and recovery technology is becoming increasingly essential for companies that want to develop more streamlined, efficient, and green production operations.
What is Energy Storage and Recovery?
Energy storage and recovery technology is designed to ensure that energy used in industrial processes like heating, cooling, and drying is recycled back into the system in some for or another. Thing, for example, of an industrial tumble dryer: energy is expended to heat up air and evaporate water, but the excess heated air is then pumped into the atmosphere, dispersing the energy.
Energy recovery tech finds ways to capture and re-use heated air for other applications, and while some forms of energy recovery has been common in manufacturing for years, storage has long been an issue. Fortunately, with the latest technology in energy storage and recovery it is possible for companies to use thermal storage materials such as ceramics and sand to keep thermal energy in a static form so that it can be re-used when it is needed.
How Much of a Difference Can Energy Storage and Recovery Make?
While most manufacturers understand that better energy storage and recovery technology is available, many are sceptical about the return on investment offered by better heat exchanger technologies. How much of a difference does it actually make.
The truth is that new heat exchangers can offer as a ninety percent improvement in efficiency. In manufacturing processes that operate constantly, this can quickly add up to significant savings on energy costs. And in factories that use renewables like wind or solar in addition to energy from the grid, heat exchangers can be used to store wind and solar for use on windless or overcast days when those energy sources are not producing.
Most experts agree that a key element in fighting anthropogenic climate change will be finding alternative sources of power for manufacturing the wide range of goods that currently rely heavily on fossil-fuel energy sources. In the meantime, reducing fossil fuel use through greater efficiency and improved energy recycling technology is an essential step toward a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future.