Industrial process heating consumes a lot of energy. Of this heat, the low-grade variety (typically < 120 C) is about 3737 kToe (Kilo-tonne of oil equivalent) which is about Rs. 18,400 Crore (US$ 2.8 Billion) annually.
Of this, the top 3 consumers are Automotive and ancillaries, Food processing and Textiles, accounting for 44%. While textile and food processing use a mix of input fuels to cater to the need, automotive industries almost exclusively rely on higher grade fuels such as electricity, diesel, LPG etc to satisfy the heating heads. Component washing and pre treatment form the bulk of this need.
If you look at the above chart, it becomes evident that it is better to use electricity for heating rather than diesel. However, there is a better way to use electricity – using heat pumps. Solar heating is obviously cheaper and a great option for reducing the energy cost burden. However, as with solar PV, solar thermal is also infirm, necessitating its use only as a back-up. But with heat-pumps, it is entirely possible to eliminate your fired systems and run on electricity.In a previous post, I had shared how we could achieve a 50% reduction in energy cost for a truck manufacturer using heat pumps, which is reproduced here.
Industrial process heating with temperature requirements up to 90 C can now be addressed using advanced refrigerants and high-temperature heat pump compressors being introduced in the market. Here is a demo unit available at IIT Madras in the Energy and Emissions Lab, developed in collaboration with Aspiration Cleantech Ventures.