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Estimating the potential for industrial waste heat reutilization in urban district energy systems

  • December 2017
  • Peer-Reviewed Articles

Tong, K., Fang, A., Yu, H., Li, Y., Shi, L., Wang, Y., Wang., S., & A. Ramaswami. (2017). Estimating the potential for industrial waste heat reutilization in urban district energy systems: method development and implementation in two Chinese provinces. Environmental Research Letters, 12(12).

ABSTRACT: Utilizing low-grade waste heat from industries to heat and cool homes and businesses through fourth generation district energy systems (DES) is a novel strategy to reduce energy use. This paper develops a generalizable methodology to estimate the energy saving potential for heating/cooling in 20 cities in two Chinese provinces, representing cold winter and hot summer regions respectively. We also conduct a life-cycle analysis of the new infrastructure required for energy exchange in DES. Results show that heating and cooling energy use reduction from this waste heat exchange strategy varies widely based on the mix of industrial, residential and commercial activities, and climate conditions in cities. Low-grade heat is found to be the dominant component of waste heat released by industries, which can be reused for both district heating and cooling in fourth generation DES, yielding energy use reductions from 12%–91% (average of 58%) for heating and 24%–100% (average of 73%) for cooling energy use in the different cities based on annual exchange potential. Incorporating seasonality and multiple energy exchange pathways resulted in energy savings reductions from 0%–87%. The life-cycle impact of added infrastructure was small (<3% for heating) and 1.9% ~ 6.5% (cooling) of the carbon emissions from fuel use in current heating or cooling systems, indicating net carbon savings. This generalizable approach to delineate waste heat potential can help determine suitable cities for the widespread application of industrial waste heat re-utilization.

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