EPSRC Thermal Management Consortium

Thermal Management of Industrial Processes

This research work involves collaboration between four internationally leading academic centres of excellence and several highly relevant industrial partners. The research programme targets a national problem by exploiting their complementary expertise through “Whole Systems Analysis”. The main objective of this research programme is to investigate new and appropriate technologies and supporting measures needed to enhance and exploit the large amount of unused low grade heat available from the wide range of process industries. 

This low-grade heat is predominately available in the gases (e.g. flue gases) and liquid streams (e.g. cooling water); hence the range of source temperatures to be considered is from 30°C to 250°C.  

Our approach is based on the fact that energy use within each process has already been largely optimised by established process integration and pinch-analysis technology.  Hence the new strategy presented in this programme is to extend such analyses to include new energy utilisation opportunities that lie over-the-fence together with the procedure by which industry can assess and implement these energy efficient innovations. 

There are six important topics in this research programme: 

    1. The first topic is to develop a database of the relevant energy situation in the process industry and its potential uses. 
    2. The second topic will increase the amount of low grade heat that is available from the process industry by neglected techniques such as condensing moisture from the flue gases. 
    3. The third will assess opportunities for external use of currently wasted process energy for local industrial or district heating applications.
    4. The fourth will analyse the opportunities to upgrade the energy, by heat pumps or drying “fuels”, and thus render the heat suitable for additional applications such as power generation.  The experimental work will include investigating the use of new fuels that are becoming available from sources such as biomass and various wastes that were previously discarded. 
    5. Fifthly, advanced modelling of large scale over-the-fence process integration is proposed, together with system-wide modelling to take account of the dynamic fluctuations in both energy supplies from the process and demand by the consumer. 
    6. Finally; an assessment of the environmental benefits and wider socio-economic impacts is required, particularly barriers and community responses to practical implementation. 


Academic Partners

University of Sheffield (Professor V Sharifi and Professor J Swithenbank)

Newcastle University (Professor D Roddy and Professor A Roskilly)

Manchester University (Professor R Smith)

Tyndall Centre Manchester (Dr P Thornley)

The Ball Instrument.

The novel "ball instrument" developed by SUWIC has allowed researchers to refine their modelling of incinerators.

The indestructable instrument acts in a similar way to a flight data recorder. It is dropped into the incinerator with the waste and is collected with the ash at the other end.

On its journey it records motion, oxygen concentration, temperature locations which is then used by SUWIC researchers to ensure the results obtained from their CFD models are much closer to real systems than previous models have predicted.