Swansea University and Tata Steel assess use of waste heat from steel industry

Article by Amanda Doyle

SPECIFIC, Swansea University
Thermographic image showing the heat generated by the SIM material

A PROJECT between Swansea University, UK, and Tata Steel will assess if a thermochemical heat storage material developed by the university could be used to recover waste heat in industry.

Port Talbot steelworks in Wales generates enough waste heat to heat around 500,000 homes – if it could be captured and reused. Capturing the heat would also offset around 1m t/y of CO2 emissions. Swansea University’s SPECIFIC Innovation & Knowledge Centre has developed a salt in matrix (SIM) material capable of thermochemical storage which could be used to store heat from the steelworks.

The project is called Mobile Energy Storage as Heat (MESH) and will run for two years. It has received £250,000 (US$330,000) in funding from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and FLEXISApp. FLEXISApp is a partnership between the Universities of Swansea, Cardiff and South Wales, industry and government which aims to develop new energy technologies. MESH will also receive a further £50,000 in matched funding from project partners.

The project will quantify the available waste heat energy at Port Talbot steelworks, as well as explore the technical, economic, and environmental potential of using the SIM material to capture, store, and release heat. When hot dry air is passed over the SIM, the thermal energy can be stored through a thermochemical process. The reverse reaction is exothermic so releases heat when humid cool air is passed over the SIM. The heat can be stored indefinitely as long as the material is kept dry, allowing it to be stored or transported to another location to provide heat for homes or industry.

Jonathon Elvins, lead researcher, said: “Our ultimate aim is to be able to store this previously-wasted energy for long periods, and to transport it to where it is needed. For example, it could be used to provide low or zero carbon heat for industrial processes or for heating buildings such as homes, offices or schools.”

Richie Hart, Process Technology Manager at Tata Steel, said: “As an energy-intensive industry our Port Talbot site is continually developing energy efficiency measures, but low-level heat energy is always very difficult to recover. This project offers the potential to derive value from this form of heat, also helping drive down the regional CO2 footprint.”

Article by Amanda Doyle

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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