EU Project Teams Treat Waste Heat and Cold as Treasures

Metal casting factories like this one in the United Kingdom give off enough excess heat to warm dozens of dwellings. 2020 (Photo courtesy EMB3Rs) Posted for media use

BRUSSELS, Belgium, April 14, 2021 ( News) – Five European project teams revolutionizing waste heat and cold recovery and industrial energy cooperation have joined forces to create an Alliance for Energy Cooperation in European Industries. Initially, they intend to publish guidelines on how managers can boost energy efficiency, recover waste heat and cold, and encourage energy cooperation.

Project scientists estimate that less than 30 percent of the energy consumed on Earth is converted efficiently. The rest is discharged into the atmosphere in the form of waste heat. This residual heat pollutes and it represents a missed opportunity.

Every day surplus heat is released into the environment where it contributes to global warming. Opportunities to recover and reuse this wasted energy can be found in large industrial facilities, and also in local supermarket and grocery stores.

The Alliance was established on March 7 with the Letter of Intent during an online meeting.

The five entities forming it – EMB3Rs , INCUBIS , R-ACES , SoWHat and S-PARCS  – are funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. Together they combine the efforts of 64 unique partners across 18 European countries, which have received a total of €14.5 million in funding.

Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe’s global competitiveness.

The collaboration amongst the five initiatives began back in November 2020, with a joint online workshop on waste heat recovery and energy cooperation in European industries.

Future joint activities will include the cross validation of public project outputs and joint communication, dissemination, and training actions.

The next public upcoming action is the participation in a joint workshop that the S-PARCS partners are organizing as part of this project’s final event.

The five initiatives will work together in a co-creation session to define the main barriers they have identified in the valorisation of excess heat/cold and energy symbiosis.

After this workshop, the partners plan to invite stakeholders to contribute with further input, which will set the basis for a policy brief with guidelines on how to boost energy efficiency, waste heat recovery, and energy cooperation in the European industries.

In alphabetical order, the five initiatives are:

EMB3Rs, which stands for “User-driven Energy-Matching & Business Prospection Tool for Industrial Excess Heat / Cold Reduction, Recovery and Redistribution,” is a “heat and cold matching service” that is investigating the potential for recovery of excess gheat and cold produced by industrial operations.

Based at the Institute of Science and Innovation in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (INEGI)

in Porto, Portugal, this team is designing a platform that explores how energy that is normally wasted by releasing it into the environment could be reused in other industrial processes, district heating and cooling.

Sixteen companies and institutes from across Europe have joined forces as part of EMB3Rs to add value to waste heat and help make better use of renewable energy sources. A novel tool, to be developed by August 2022, will allow energy-intensive industries and other excess heat and cold sources to explore ways of reusing their excess thermal energy. This will improve their energy performance and contribute to a healthier future for everyone.

The five industries EMB3Rs points out as good candidates for excess heat and cold reuse are: cement factories, supermarket chillers, metal casting companies, industrial waste hot water, and waste incinerators.

One of the case studies where the EMB3Rs platform will be tested is a metal casting plant in the United Kingdom that currently lacks surplus heat recovery systems, wasting 10.5 gigajoules every year.

“That would be the same as providing energy to 30 houses a year,” explains Stuart Bradley, principal engineer at the University of Warwick, who will be leading the research.

“It is a source of heat that is just being ejected into the environment at the moment. These are large casts of maybe eight to ten tonnes, and they are just being left to cool down naturally,” explains Bradley. “So what we’re trying to do is to formulate a method of capturing heat, rather than just cooling the casts with water or air, and the EMB3Rs tool will help us understand the value of that heat and where it can be redeployed.”

Refrigerated cold cases in markets waste a lot of cold air that could be used to cool other buildings. 2006, Baltinglass, Wicklow, Ireland (Photo by Diane Duane) Creative Commons license via Flickr


which stands for “An Energy Symbiosis Incubator for Maximizing Energy Efficiency in Industrial Parks and Districts,” will develop a set of tools and support services to help key stakeholders in Industrial Parks and Districts to develop and implement energy symbiosis projects.

Energy symbiosis, defined as the selling and buying of excess energy, happens when the excess heat or cold produced by industrial processes provide heating, cooling, or electricity for other industries or buildings.

Five Energy Symbiosis Incubators will be launched by INCUBIS, supporting existing or novel exchanges of waste heat and cold within industrial areas in Spain in Barcelona Province, France in Dunkirk, Norway in the Agder Region, United Kingdom in the Humber Region, and Germany in Brunsbuttel.

The Incubators will consist of both physical and virtual spaces, operated by INCUBIS consortium partners who have been selected for their complementary expertise and experience in delivering energy symbiosis in industrial parks and districts.


which stands for “fRamework for Actual Cooperation on Energy on Sites and Parks,” is supporting industrial clusters and business parks in becoming ecoregions that reduce their CO2 emissions by at least 10 percent.

To achieve this, ecoregions are created where multiple stakeholders engage in energy cooperation by exchanging heat and/or cold streams, investing together in renewable energy solutions, or managing energy streams through smart energy management platforms.

Based at the Institute for Sustainable Process Technology

in  Amersfoort, The Netherlands, R-ACES is using the knowledge and experience gained throughout Horizon 2020 in creating a set of three tools embedded in support actions:

* – an self-assessment tool

* – a legal decision support tool for joint contracts

* – a smart energy management platform for clusters


which stands for “Supporting new Opportunities for Waste Heat and Cold Valorisation Towards EU Decarbonization,” is developing an integrated software to identify and simulate how industrial waste heat and cold could cost-effectively contribute to a local community’s forecasted energy demand, and how this could be integrated with renewable energy systems.

Valorisation, or valorization, means setting price limits, or price restraints. The tool, designed to support a range of stakeholders in auditing and mapping their energy processes, will assess the impact of energy processes on both technical and nontechnical levels and help to reduce the cost of energy audits.

This will be validated by 11 demonstration sites that will test the SoWHat software in real operating conditions in industrial facilities. SoWHAT will assess the impacts of the alternative technologies and promote innovative contractual agreements and financing models to deliver economically viable solutions.

The SoWHat tool will be built indeed with a participatory approach involving national clusters from Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Sweden, and Romania composed of local industries, public authorities, energy agencies, energy utilities, and external stakeholders.


which stands for “Envisioning and Testing New Models of Sustainable Energy Cooperation and Services in Industrial Parks,” presents a concept for reducing energy costs and energy consumption in industrial parks, while increasing renewable on-site energy production. It aims at moving from a single company energy efficient intervention approach to cooperative energy efficient solutions, enabling greater energy savings.

S-PARCS’ 13 partners will systematically analyze technical, economic, regulatory, legal, organizational, environmental, and social barriers to energy efficient park design and operation on all levels and will provide innovative, market-ready solutions to overcome them.

The pre-assessment of seven Lighthouse Parks from Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Austria which are participating in the study has shown a high potential for joint energy actions, many of which are transferrable to the community of S-PARCS followers in the UK, Sweden, Turkey, Russia, Italy, Portugal, Austria and Norway.

Depending on the technology, temperatures don’t need to be really high or low for heat and cold to be captured and reused. The new cooperating partners see a broad range of potential surplus heat and cold sources from industrial parks, factories and university halls to individual households.

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