Surplus heat recovery and re-utilization is therefore of great significance, and has the potential of being a major factor in reaching national and international energy and environment goals. Direct re-use of surplus heat would be the most efficient and cost-effective alternative, but is in many cases not a feasible option, for example due to lack of appropriate heat demand within reasonable geographical proximity. This is very often the case for Norwegian energy intensive industries, and thus heat-to-power conversion often becomes the remaining alternative. Electricity has very high flexibility for distribution and re-use.
Basic technology for waste heat to power conversion has been established, but in many cases are implementation held back by relatively high specific costs. The COPRO project, led by SINTEF Energy Research, primarily targets recovery of industrial waste heat in the range of 125-250°C, a temperature range where profitable energy recovery currently is challenging. COPRO aims to develop efficient and competitive technology specifically for this purpose based on Rankine cycles with mixed, natural working fluids.
In broad terms, the general idea is to find mixtures of fluids that have ideal thermophysical properties for the intended application, and exploit these properties as much as possible with specifically designed components, cycle configurations, and optimal operating conditions. Promising heat-to-power cases for plants owned by the COPRO industry partners Alcoa, Hydro, and Statoil will be investigated in detail. GE Power Norway and FrioNordica participate as vendor partners in the project, while SINTEF Energy Research, NTNU, KTH (SE) and Obrist Engineering (AT) are research partners. COPRO is supported by the Research council of Norway's EnergiX programme.
After the first half year of the project (4 year total duration), COPRO is now well underway. The initial technical efforts has been focussed on establishing the necessary framework for the planne development: Numerical libraries for thermodynamic properties of fluid mixtures, advanced and flexible models for heat-to-power cycles, and two case definitions developed together with the participating industry partners. In
COPRO, case definitions serves two main purposes:
- Ensures that developed technology obtains the highest possible relevance to the industry who will be future end-users, by including concrete industry specific conditions and constraints
- Enables technology evaluation under realistic conditions and system boundaries, on a format that is familiar and relatable to the target industry
In addition, the PhD-candidate has signed the contract for work within expander development, and the project has also adopted a couple of project and master students at NTNU. PhD and master students in COPRO are integrated with industry and researchers on several arenas, and have already impressed the consortium with high quality, insightful presentation at the project kickoff.
This is a Knowledge-building Projects for Industry financed by partners and the Research Council of Norway. The total budget is 16.1 MNOK ( 2M€) and 3.3 MNOK is financed by the industry.