Turboden and MHI: An innovative synergy for the advancement of industrial decarbonisation

Synergy between advanced technologies for a low-carbon future. The exemplary partnership of Turboden and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries revolutionises energy efficiency and reduces emissions.

03 June 2024

In an era characterized by increasing ecological awareness and the necessity for sustainable strategies, Turboden S.p.A, a company within the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) group, stands out as an exemplary model in the field of industrial decarbonization. The synergy with MHI combines Turboden's expertise in Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) systems and large-scale heat pumps with MHI's engineering and manufacturing capabilities in centrifugal compressors and turbomachinery. The integration of these advanced technologies is driving significant transformations towards a low-carbon future, enhancing energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in industrial processes.

The Growth of Turboden in the Global Context

Founded in Brescia, Italy, Turboden has earned a prominent place in the renewable energy sector due to its specialization in ORC systems, which utilize low-boiling-point organic fluids to generate electricity and heat from medium-low temperature thermal sources (100-300°C). The company has also developed expertise in large-scale heat pumps, capable of providing process heat up to 200°C with high coefficients of performance (COP). Since becoming part of the MHI group in 2013, Turboden has expanded its reach, tackling global energy challenges with modular and scalable solutions aimed at drastically reducing the carbon footprint of energy-intensive industries.

Innovation and Technology

The heart of Turboden's innovation lies in its ability to transform low-temperature waste heat and renewable sources (such as biomass and geothermal) into useful electrical and thermal energy. A recent example of such innovation is the creation of a large-scale heat pump that produces high-temperature steam by utilizing waste process heat. This CO2-free steam is used by a major European paper industry company.

The Role of MHI and Synergy with Turboden

MHI, through its subsidiary Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Compressor Corporation (MCO), provides Turboden with highly efficient and reliable centrifugal compressors, which are the core of heat pump systems. These multistage compressors are custom-designed for each application, based on established frames with over 4000 references in operation. The vertical integration between MCO and Turboden allows for optimized design and performance of decarbonization solutions, leveraging synergies in R&D, the production of key components, and after-sales support.

Impacts and Benefits of Decarbonization

The adoption of technologies developed by Turboden and supported by MHI brings multiple benefits in terms of environmental and economic sustainability. The significant reduction of CO2 emissions, which can reach 100% in the case of industrial heat pumps powered by renewable sources, directly contributes to global climate change mitigation goals. Additionally, the recovery of waste heat improves the energy efficiency of industrial processes, reducing fossil fuel consumption and operational costs. The modularity and compactness of ORC solutions and large heat pumps facilitate integration even in space-constrained sites, while their reliability ensures service continuity. Finally, the use of environmentally friendly and non-toxic working fluids ensures compliance with safety and environmental regulations. 

Case Studies and Impact Assessment

Projects like the one in the paper industry not only demonstrate the applicability of these technologies in energy-intensive contexts but also serve as case studies to quantify the benefits of decarbonization. With a heat pump of approximately 15 MWt, it is estimated that CO2 emissions are reduced by 25,000 tons per year compared to traditional gas boilers. Considering a carbon cost of 100 €/tCO2, this translates into an economic saving of over 2 million euros per year, in addition to lower fuel costs. On a global scale, if all industries adopted similar technologies, billions of tons of emissions could be avoided, significantly contributing to the Paris Agreement goals.

Future Prospects and Scaling Potential

The collaboration between Turboden and MHI opens promising prospects for the decarbonization of numerous industrial sectors, from petrochemicals to food, textiles to cement. The versatility of ORC and large-scale heat pump solutions, combined with their modularity and scalability (from hundreds of kW to tens of MW), allows for application in a wide range of contexts and plant sizes. Additionally, integration with other low-carbon technologies, such as carbon capture plants, green hydrogen, and thermal storage, can further amplify the decarbonization potential.

To accelerate the large-scale adoption of these solutions, stable incentive policies and innovative financing schemes, such as corporate PPAs and green bonds, will be crucial. Equally important will be the development of specialized skills and the creation of integrated industrial supply chains, capable of providing high-efficiency, low-emission technologies, components, and services.


The synergy between Turboden and MHI represents a virtuous example of how technological innovation and industrial collaboration can accelerate the transition towards a decarbonized economy. By integrating large-scale heat pumps with highly efficient centrifugal compressors, this partnership offers concrete solutions to reduce the carbon footprint of industrial processes, while improving energy efficiency and economic competitiveness.

To fully realize the decarbonization potential of these technologies, a joint commitment from institutions, industry, and civil society will be necessary to create a favorable ecosystem for innovation and sustainable investment. Only through a systemic vision and multi-actor collaboration will it be possible to overcome the challenge of climate change and build a greener and more prosperous future for all.

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