Congratulations, you have reached the finals of the prestigious Handelsblatt Energy Award in the Industry category, in which more than 100 companies took part. This award is organized by the Handelsblatt Media Group in Düsseldorf. In the end, one company was the winner just ahead of you. What does this participation mean for Spilling?
Dr. Heiko Dittmer: First of all, we congratulate the company Alois Müller from Allgäu, which won in our category - one of four - with its entry "Green Factory - The CO2-neutral Factory". After all, we are not competitors, but are all working - each in our own way - towards the goal of drastically reducing CO2 emissions by using energy as efficiently as possible, thus countering climate change and doing something for our environment. To answer the question in concrete terms: The Handelsblatt Energy Award is another building block in our communications strategy. It is intended to draw particular attention to the topics of "energy efficiency in industry" and the heat transition and, in particular, to raise awareness among decision-makers and managers in energy-intensive companies that there are very good solutions for these processes. That's where this award is a great opportunity, because the competition brings this publicity and has numerous multipliers.
Why is the attention and persuasion so important?
German industry is responsible for a quarter of total energy consumption. It is still largely produced using fossil energy. This has to change, and we offer very good alternatives for this.
With which project did Spilling participate in the competition?
Spilling Technologies' solution addresses the issue of process heat, which accounts for 70 percent of energy consumption in industry. With our process of steam recycling by means of piston compressors, we have developed a high-temperature heat pump for the industry. If the electrical energy required to operate it is also generated from renewable sources, the result is green process steam. In the end, everyone is a winner: the environment thanks to the significant CO2 savings, and the company because it very quickly saves considerable costs despite the initial investment.
Can you give us an example application?
For the Handelsblatt Award we have choosen to present steam recycling, using the example of a paper mill: In a project we implemented for a Swedish company, formerly a natural gas-fired steam boiler was used to dry the paper pulp. This required approx. 67,200 MWh of gas per year for approx. 6,000 full utilization hours. The Spilling steam compressor, on the other hand, now uses the moisture evaporating from the paper pulpe and recompresses it to high pressure steam to heat the dryer. This means that no additional fossil-generated steam is required anymore for the drying process, and a closed steam cycle now exists. Ultimately, the Spilling steam compressor with its electric motor drive requires only 16,000 MWh of electrical energy per year to achieve the same result. This means that the electrification of process heat generation succeeds with considerably increased energy efficiency.
Sounds convincing - instead of burning gas, electricity is used to make exhaust steam usable again. How relevant is this process for other industrial applications?
Steam is an ideal heat transfer medium for industry. It has a high heat capacity, a high heat transfer coefficient, it is also non-toxic, non-flammable and the raw material water is generally available at low cost. However, many production processes also produce excess steam at a low pressure level, virtually as a waste product, which cannot be used in this way for other production processes, for example during product cooling or drying, exothermic reactions or the combustion of residual materials. These excess quantities, which are not available for use as process steam because the pressure is too low, are often condensed without any real heat utilization or are released into the atmosphere completely unused. In our process, this steam is brought back to a high pressure level by compression with little electrical energy and made available to the production process again.
Since January 1, 2021, climate-damaging fossil fuels have been subject to a price of 25 euros per ton of CO2 in Germany. Against this background, your products should become even more interesting for your customers. For which industries is your high-temperature heat pump suitable?
Anywhere in industrial production where water steam is used, we can help to ensure that energy is used efficiently. This is the case, for example, in the chemical industry, or in the food or paper production.
How quickly does an investment in steam recycling pay off for companies?
As a rule, the plants pay for themselves after four to five years. Thanks to the funding opportunities, for example under the "Deutschland macht's effizient" ("Germany makes it efficient") program of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, this is sometimes much faster. CO2 pricing will drive this development further.
Our experts also have suitable solution proposals for your application. You can contact us here.