Turning waste heat into revenue with ORC technology

14 June 2010 - Calnetix Power Solutions has launched a range of ‘Clean Cycle’ waste heat power generation machines that can turn heat generated by reciprocating engines (such as landfill gas engines), biomass boilers and industrial processes (including incinerators and processing plants) into electricity, which can either be used on-site or sold to the grid.
 
The technology can add an additional revenue stream, with modest variable costs, to all kinds of manufacturers, agricultural waste sites, mills, landfill sites and any other industrial process which generates waste heat at temperatures of around 120 ºC or higher, says the company.
 
Based around Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) technology, the machines are designed to be commercially viable in the 100–150 kW range. The company has shipped 20 units already, which have racked up a more than 7000 operating hours in total.
 
To-date there have been no commercially-viable ORC systems targeted to harvest heat at the lower temperatures generated by reciprocating engines, biomass boilers and industrial processes, says Calnetix, which has re-engineered the ORC process to optimize efficiency and reliability at lower temperatures. 
 
Brad Garner, Calnetix’s CEO, stressed the commercial aspects of the technology: ‘Waste heat to electrical power generation is just about the greenest technology there is. However, our customers will not buy for environmental benefits. For them, this is a purely commercial purchase based on economics. If you’re wasting heat, you’re wasting money.’
 
Companies already using Calnetix’s Clean Cycle generators include the Progeco saw mill in Italy. Operators of the mill, which burns wood scraps and sawdust to make steam from which electricity is generated, expect to increase its annual revenues through the use of Calnetix Clean Cycle generators, by an additional €400,000 ($490,000) per year.

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