Opportunities for low grade heat recovery in the UK food processing industry

Richard Law, Adam Harvey, David Reay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Citations (Scopus)


Energy efficiency in the process industry is becoming an increasingly important issue due to the rising costs of both electricity and fossil fuel resources, as well as the tough targets for the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions outlined in the Climate Change Act 2008. Utilisation of waste heat sources is key to improving industrial energy efficiency, with an estimated 11.4 TWh of recoverable heat being wasted each year, a quarter of which is from the food and drinks processing sector.
This paper examines the low-grade waste heat sources common to the food and drinks processing sector and the various opportunities for the use of this heat. A review of the best available technologies for recovery of waste heat is provided, ranging from heat transfer between source and sink, to novel technologies for the generation of electricity and refrigeration.
Generally, the most economic option for waste heat recovery is heat exchange between nearby/same process source and sink, with a number of well-developed heat exchangers widely available for purchase. More novel options, such as the use of organic Rankine cycles for electricity generation prove to be less economical due to high capital outlays. However, with additional funding provision for demonstration of such projects and development of modular units, such technologies would become more common.
This work arises out of a large EPSRC project -OPTITHERM - that is directed at optimising energy use by heat recovery and other methods in industrial processes. Newcastle University (this paper), Brunel and Northumbria Universities are involved. Results are disseminated in a number of ways, including via HEXAG - The Heat Exchanger Action Group - co-ordinated by the co-author, Professor Reay.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-196
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Thermal Engineering
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2013


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