Heat recovery: a sustainable use of energy
Exploiting residual thermal energy for greater energy sustainability

Heat recovery: a sustainable use of energy

Exploiting residual thermal energy for greater energy sustainability

17 January 2024

Thermal energy is a fundamental element in the industry, being used for various purposes such as heating, cooling, and steam production. However, much of this energy is lost as residual heat. Heat recovery in the industry is a sustainable method to exploit this residual thermal energy and reduce environmental impact.

In this article, we will explore the concept of heat recovery in the industry, its benefits, applications, and the challenges associated with its implementation.

Heat Recovery in Industrial Plants

Heat recovery in the industry is the process of capturing and using residual thermal energy produced during industrial processes. This thermal energy can come from various sources, such as exhaust gases from furnaces, cooling liquids, or vapors produced by machinery. Heat recovery can occur through heat exchangers, transferring thermal energy from a hot fluid to a cold fluid without mixing them.

Sources of residual heat are numerous and vary depending on the sector. For example, in the food industry, residual heat can come from cooking or sterilization processes. In the chemical industry, residual heat can be generated from chemical reactors or distillation processes. It is important to identify these sources of residual heat and evaluate their potential for heat recovery.

Heat recovery from production processes
Heat recovery from production processes

Benefits of Industrial Waste Heat Recovery

Recovering heat in industrial processes offers numerous benefits both economically and environmentally. Firstly, it allows to reduce energy costs, as residual thermal energy is used instead of being dispersed in the environment. This results in a reduction of fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Furthermore, heat recovery increases the overall energy efficiency of the industry. By using residual thermal energy, the need to use additional energy for heating or cooling purposes is reduced. This leads to a lower consumption of primary energy and greater energy sustainability.

Applications of Heat Recovery in the Industry

Heat recovery can be applied in various industrial sectors to exploit residual thermal energy. For example, in the steel industry, the residual heat from furnace exhaust gases can be used to generate steam or for heating environments. In the food industry, residual heat can be used for heating cooking processes or for cooling products.

There are various technologies and systems used for heat recovery in the industry. For example, plate or tube heat exchangers allow efficient transfer of thermal energy from one fluid to another. Cogeneration or trigeneration systems enable simultaneous production of electrical and thermal energy using residual heat.

Challenges and Solutions for Implementing Heat Recovery

Despite the many benefits, implementing heat recovery in the industry can present some challenges. One of the main challenges is the need to adapt existing plants to allow for heat recovery. This may require significant initial investments and modifications to production processes.

Another challenge is the availability of technologies and systems suitable for the specific needs of the industry. It is important to carefully evaluate the available options and choose the most suitable solution based on the characteristics of the industry and the sources of residual heat.

To overcome these challenges, it is necessary to promote awareness and training on the importance of heat recovery in the industry. Moreover, it is essential to encourage the adoption of sustainable practices and provide financial support for the implementation of heat recovery projects.


Adopting heat recovery in the industry marks a step forward towards a smarter management of thermal energy, generating evident benefits for the economy and the ecosystem. In this context, Turboden stands out as a trusted partner, offering organic Rankine cycle (ORC) systems that generate electricity by recovering industrial heat for powers up to 20 MW.

Our ORC technology has been successfully implemented in over 40 plants, using an organic fluid with a low boiling point to maximize the effectiveness of the recovered heat. Turboden's industrial heat pumps increase efficiency and sustainability, reusing waste heat in new industrial processes or for urban heating.

It is essential for companies to follow the path of sustainability, evaluating innovative solutions like those proposed by Turboden, to build a cleaner and more sustainable energy future.


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