SUSHEAT, Sustainable Heat Upgrade for Net-Zero

SUSHEAT is a Horizon Europe Project funded under Climate, Energy and Mobility. It started on 1 May 2023 and will finish on 30 April 2027. The project coordinator is Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED) from Spain.

Decarbonization of industry requires a new approach for the design of every link of the energy supply chain of the different industries. Moving from fossil fuel-based technologies that use flexible burners able to provide energy at wide temperature ranges, to renewable technologies that are strongly constrained by the availability of the resource and the temperature of the heat, makes it necessary to optimize the resources and the processes, including the excess & waste energy generated by/within them.

Heat upgrade technologies are becoming increasingly relevant as one of the ways to meet the high thermal energy demand required for the industry. This involves a double benefit: firstly, by using renewable energy sources (RES), fossil fuel consumption and emission of pollution and greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere are reduced; secondly, heat for industrial processes becomes a new market where other renewable-based technologies, like solar, are having limitations for deployment.

According to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of the U.S.1, the EU has been a leader in the development and deployment of solar heat for industrial processes. However, this solar contribution is currently limited to heat below 150 ºC due to the constraints present in the sector, mainly weather at the site and land availability within the industry. This temperature threshold coincides with the current limitation of maximum temperatures for heat upgrade technologies based on conventional heat pumps, mainly due to the limitations introduced by the working fluid.

Thus, the next step in wide scale introduction of RES at temperatures above 150 °C is to develop heat pumps and integrated technologies for reliable and intensive heat supply in processes above that temperature, based on energy harvesting regardless of the renewable source or waste sink, and even able to enlarge the exploitation possibilities. Nowadays, commercial technologies (heat pumps) can effectively deliver heat up to 120 °C. However, a wide part of the industrial sector requires higher temperatures, 150-250 °C and is currently mostly dependent on fossil fuels.

The integration of different RES as another link of the chain, together with the use of the available waste energy of the plants, and the introduction of thermal storage system, become a potential path to manage the energy flows, upgrade the heat available in the sinks and optimise the dispatchability of the resources.

SUSHEAT tackles the problem above proposing an innovative approach enabling a more cost-efficient, flexible, user oriented, and reliable heat upgrade concept with smart integration of all the available resources and targeting a heat delivery temperature in the range of 150 to 250 ºC. The proposed concept, while leveraging on existing industrial/R&D partners’ scientific and commercial know-how, targets a wide spectrum of the industrial sectors, where current renewable-based technologies have limitations and there is not enough awareness about the potential economic savings, environmental benefits and experience.

Specifically, SUSHEAT will work towards (i) increasing energy efficiency in industry; (ii) reducing industrial GHG emissions and energy consumption by enabling innovative waste heat upgrade solutions; (iii) increasing the flexibility of the industrial sector limiting the short- and long-term impact of industrial heat electrification on the local grid; and (iv) further promote and raise awareness of the benefit of industrial heat recovery and upgrade within key stakeholders. These objectives will be achieved thanks to the presence of key EU R&D centres and industrial partners specialized in complementary topics and valorisation of their tools/facilities/laboratories and know-how that will enable an integrated comprehensive approach.

SUSHEAT project aims to develop and validate (via modelling and laboratory activities up to TRL 5) innovative technological solutions that can untap the potential of hybrid renewable industrial heat upgrade systems widely contributing to the decarbonization of the industrial sector.

The figure above shows a simplified layout of the proposed concept. The layout shows how the concept integrates different renewables resources & sinks, namely solar energy, ambient (as a reservoir) and waste industrial excess energy, thanks to the use of two novel TES, an innovative HT-HP and a Fresnel solar thermal collector. The concept is completed with the smart CIT system based on AI. The main innovations of the concept are:

▪ Technology of the Stirling-based HT-HP, using helium as fluid and able to achieve the target temperature.

▪ Bio-inspired AI-driven design for PCM-TES systems, ensuring adaptability to existing heat sinks and heat requirements at targeted temperatures.

▪ AI-based CIT decision-making algorithm to optimise the different resources and technologies.

These innovations allow the development of a flexible and dispatchable system tailored for different industries, which will be tested at relevant environment, replicating the energy requirements of two specific case-studies, a dairy industry in Greece and a fish-oil industry in Norway, with different challenging requirements and available resources.

The development of the SUSHEAT integrated concept will follow the next steps:

1. Gather information about the most relevant sectors and processes that can benefit from the developed technology, including the identification of the corresponding challenges; development of thermal demand profiles for the two case-studies and concept assessment through Techno-Economic Analysis (TEA) analysis using ad-hoc analyses, Life Cycle Assesment (LCA) using tools like SimaPro, as well as the S-LCA and Social Acceptance studies including gender dimension and intersectionality analyses for the two case-studies.

d. Optimize the performance for high temperatures.

3. Sizing the high- and low-temperature TES for both processes, defining the optimal designs and PCMs, aided by Computer-Fluid Dynamic (CFD) tools.

4. As part of the CIT, a dynamic model of the SUSHEAT system will be developed by integrating the different component sub-models under a simulation environment. The integration of the different energy sources is first evaluated. Optimization algorithms and Thermal Demand Side Response (TDSR) principles will be established to achieve the optimal configuration of energy generation and storage based on user case profiles.

5. Construction and test of the heat pump and TES in order to analyse these systems at a Lab Scale.

The consortium consists of 14 partners. From which there are 2 engineering SMEs: WIZDEV and ANALISIS-DSC; 5 RTOs and Academia partners: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Lleida University, UNED, Newcastle University, National Institute of Chemistry; 5 manufacturers and exploitation partners: ENERIN, i-TES, RTDS Group, LC Innoconsult, Industrial Solar; and 2 industries: Mandrekas and Pelagia.